There are groups that try to provide an even-handed overview of the complicated history and present dimensions of the Israel-Palestine conflict, groups that seem genuinely devoted to peace, security, and justice for both peoples. Passages is not one of those groups.
By Mark A. Chancey
Professor of Religious Studies
Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences
Southern Methodist University
As Museum of the Bible’s official opening in November 2017 draws near, scholars and the public alike continue to wonder what ideological and religious agendas its exhibits and future initiatives will reflect. Yet for one current MOTB program, speculation is not necessary. For over two years, the museum has sponsored Passages, a group that provides Christian college students with trips to Israel to promote the political and theological views of Christian Zionism. A closer look at Passages, its sponsoring organizations, and its convoluted origins story shows just how politicized it is—and how incongruent its ideologically driven mission is with MOTB’s oft-stated aspiration to be a nonsectarian educational institution.
Curiously, the MOTB website is largely silent about its connections to Passages aside from scattered, buried references. In contrast, Passages touts its MOTB association by putting the museum’s logo on every webpage. The MOTB branding is accompanied by that of Passages’ other sponsor, Philos Project, a non-profit that advocates for persecuted Christians in the Middle East and conservative political positions regarding Israel.
Passages explains that it wants trip participants to “encounter the roots of their Biblical faith first-hand and come face to face with the modern-day miracle that is Israel.” It identifies its “end goal” as cultivating students to become “an informed voice for both their Christian faith and for Israel.” Such language makes explicit Passages’ coupling of spiritual enrichment with political activism. The trip is heavily subsidized; the roughly 2,000 students who took it this summer paid only $500 apiece. The similarity in this regard to the well-known Jewish program Taglit-Birthright Israel is not accidental; Passages has always been intended to be a sort of “Birthright for Evangelicals.”
Passages follows an itinerary that includes not only traditional holy and archaeological sites (Jerusalem, Masada, Caesarea Maritima, the standard Galilean sites, etc.) but also locations intended to illustrate Israel’s national security concerns. Students survey Israel’s borders with Lebanon and Syria to learn about the threats from Hezbollah, Al Qaeda, and ISIS. They travel to Alfei Menashe, a Jewish settlement in the West Bank found at roughly the narrowest east-west point of Israel. They also go to towns that have frequently been hit by rockets and mortar fire from the Gaza Strip, like Kfar Aza and Sderot, the “bomb shelter capital of the world.” Online essays and social media posts make clear that Passages tries to maximize the emotional impact of these latter stops by emphasizing the fear, pain, and resilience of communities traumatized by past attacks and anxious about future ones.
But Passages makes no attempt to take students to places that might engender a similar sense of Palestinian vulnerability, suffering, and determination. In fact, it never ventures into Palestinian-controlled territory at all, not even to see Bethlehem, a standard element of most Holy Land tours. The result is that students see neither the worst nor the best of life in Palestine. They certainly do not witness firsthand the living conditions of Palestinian communities or the impact that Israel's security measures and military presence have on Palestinians’ daily lives. The itinerary is lop-sided by design, highlighting Israel’s security considerations but forestalling any questions about Palestinians’ concerns that a foray beyond the security barrier/ wall might prompt. There are groups that try to provide an even-handed overview of the complicated history and present dimensions of the Israel-Palestine conflict, groups that seem genuinely devoted to peace, security, and justice for both peoples. Passages is not one of those groups.
Passages’ programming extends beyond the pilgrimage itself. It works to cultivate “a vibrant post-trip alumni community that is committed to spreading the spiritual and moral message of Israel on campus and beyond.” It requires participants to commit to three post-trip actions such as creating or joining an “Israel-focused group,” joining its book club, or entering its writing, video, and photography contests. It connects interested students to internships and offers multi-week “Leader’s Courses” on the Jewish roots of Christianity, the Bible and modern Israel, and Israel advocacy. These are not merely summative reflective exercises or continuing education opportunities; they are designed to nudge students towards political activism.
Passages’ executive director, Scott Phillips, recently quantified the program’s effectiveness on this count. Before the trip, the number of students ready to “speak out for Israel” is only 20%. “They’re unsure, neutral,” Phillips commented. “But when they come back, their willingness to speak out for Israel more than doubles.”
Christian Zionist influence on Passages has come from both its sponsors, MOTB and Philos Project. Until mid-September 2017, Passages’ board of directors included Allen Quine, MOTB’s Vice President of International Relations. (Who, if anyone, from the MOTB will replace Quine, who apparently resigned, remains unclear.) While on a Passages trip in January 2017, Quine explained the goals of the group by connecting futuristic expectations with present-day politics in classic Christian Zionist fashion:
That we see a place for Israel in the future. That we think that as you read the Bible that Israel has a unique place in God’s heart and … God’s plan. So that we become aware of that and impressed by, so that we become advocates for Israel not only for future Israel as God has it in his plan for the kingdom but also in the presence of current Israel, that we become supporters and advocates of present-day Israel.
Passages’ bio for Quine touted his membership in the Pre-Trib Research Center, which characterizes itself as a “‘think tank’ committed to the study, proclamation, teaching, and defending of the Pretribulational Rapture (pre-70th week of Daniel) and related end-time prophecy.” The center promotes a premillennial dispensationalist timetable that includes the founding of the nation-state of Israel as a predecessor to the “rapture” of faithful Christians to heaven, a period of “tribulation” for those left behind, and Jesus’ second coming.
If the comments by MOTB’s Quine exemplify Christian Zionism’s classic premillennialist roots, Philos Project adopts a big-tent theological approach that takes into account that some forms of Christian Zionism are more apocalyptically oriented than others. What unifies those variations is the conviction that Christians have a religious duty to support the modern nation-state of Israel based on biblical passages about God’s covenant with the Jewish people. Some of Philos Project’s articles reflect eschatological concerns like Quine’s. One reasons, “Israel is a nation that offers hope both in the pursuit of peace and in the eternal kingdom of Christ.... In the end, their centrality in history will affect all people.” Others reflect ambivalence towards overexcitement about the end times. One of the earliest, by executive director Robert Nicholson, rightly notes that “not all evangelicals agree on the details [of eschatology] or even believe it to be true.” Nicholson explains, “But if eschatology isn’t the real basis for most Christian Zionism, what is? Put simply, it’s the belief in the truth of God’s eternal covenant with the nation of Israel.” Another essay appeals to the oft-cited Christian Zionist proof text of Genesis 12:3, in which God tells Abraham, “I will bless those who bless you and curse the one who curses you.” It argues that “Christians must recognize the blessing the Lord has unconditionally placed over Israel” and “must be on Israel’s side with vigilance.”
Christian Zionism is highly controversial. Though it is an important tenet of faith for many conservative Protestants, other evangelicals reject it outright. It has made few inroads in Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox circles. It is often a highly contentious subject in Jewish circles, whether in America, Israel, or elsewhere. Some Jews are deeply offended by versions in which Jews ultimately convert to Christianity or play some other special end-times role, disliking the idea of their peoplehood being viewed as a piece on someone else’s eschatological chessboard. Many Christians and Jews alike are troubled by its seeming disregard for the plights of Palestinians and frequent readiness to caricaturize Islam.
Other Jews, however, are grateful for Christian Zionist support for Israel. Falling into this category is the primary backer of Philos Project, billionaire hedge fund owner Paul E. Singer, a mega-donor of the American political right. Philos Project unsurprisingly promotes viewpoints similar to those of other groups with which Singer is affiliated, such as the Republican Jewish Coalition, the Manhattan Institute, and the recently defunct Foreign Policy Initiative. These include downplaying the problematic nature of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, skepticism toward the Iranian nuclear agreement, and greater readiness to use American military force in the Middle East.
Passages dutifully promotes Philos Project’s political articles, events, and conference calls through its social media feeds. One of its “Leader’s Courses” is the all expense paid, four-week-long Philos Leadership Institute. Passages thus serves as a de facto gateway to Philos Project.
How did MOTB become involved with a politicized pilgrimage program like Passages in the first place? Pursuing that question leads to yet another organization, Liberty Counsel, and here the story takes an odd turn. Liberty Counsel is a famous Christian Right litigation and policy group devoted to “advancing religious freedom,” “defending human life,” “protecting marriage & family,” and “standing with Israel.” The group has close ties with Liberty University, which was founded by the great popularizer of Christian Zionism, Jerry Falwell, Sr. Its chairman, Mat Staver, was dean of Liberty University’s law school from 2006 to 2014.
Staver began offering a Holy Land tour program in 2011. He named it the Liberty Ambassador Counsel (LAC) program and gave it two goals: “to strengthen the Christian faith of the attendees and equip them to become Goodwill Ambassadors for Israel.” In May 2013, he announced the hiring of Rivka Kidron to assist with the program. Staver had met Kidron in a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to whom she had been a special advisor. Staver's LAC trips were aimed at all takers, but he claims to have envisioned a program geared specifically to students early on. Liberty University News Service attests to his trip planning for Liberty students around this time.
By 2014, MOTB had also become interested in sponsoring an Israel trip. Steve Green, founder of MOTB and president of Hobby Lobby, later told The Oklahoman that Ron Dermer, a Netanyahu advisor who serves as Israel’s ambassador to the U.S., had proposed it to him. Passages executive director Scott Phillips told Moody Bible Institute’s student newspaper that Rivka Kidron first reached out to Green with the idea. Whichever is correct, both Green and Phillips explicitly attribute inspiration for a MOTB trip to figures associated with the Israeli government. Thankful for support wherever they can find it, Israeli administrations have often fostered connections with American evangelicals, but Netanyahu has been especially adept at making inroads with this community. His representatives’ successful overture to Green is an example of this larger political strategy.
The outreach to Green followed a call for a such a program by Israel’s Minister of Tourism Uzi Landau in September 2013. What was needed, Landau proposed, was a Birthright-style plan for young evangelicals. “We are looking to get closer to this public in order to generate tourism and support for Israel when they return to their homeland, become our ambassadors and view Israel not through CNN’s eyes,” he proclaimed.
Once the subject had been broached with MOTB, it and Liberty Counsel began negotiating how best to combine efforts. In the meantime, Liberty Counsel organized a $500 pilot trip for Pensacola Christian College students over the 2014-2015 Christmas break, calling it Covenant Journey. Staver described the Covenant Journey trip as “virtually identical to prior Liberty Ambassador Counsel tours except it has more hiking, more tie-in and debrief time, and more praise and worship.”
What happened next apparently caught Staver off guard. In May 2015, Green and Singer announced their own launch of Covenant Journey at the Annual Christian Solidarity Event at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C. Ambassador Dermer explained, “There’s only one thing better than standing with Israel, and that’s standing in Israel.” Israeli and American reports described the program as a creation of MOTB and Philos Project, making no mention of Staver’s efforts. MOTB listed Covenant Journey by name in its 2015 Giving Opportunities book, asking for $3,000,000 to support “a life-changing journey to Israel, the land of the Bible, for college students.” Liberty Counsel seemed to be out of the picture entirely.
Staver vents about the incident on WND, a venue aimed at the far right end of the American political spectrum: “Singer and MOTB issued a premature press release about Covenant Journey in 2015, which I never saw beforehand and would not have approved.” He bristles at characterizations of Singer as a co-founder and insists that Covenant Journey never received any of Singer’s money. For him, Singer’s involvement had been a deal breaker. As he tells it, MOTB had asked him about working with Singer, but Singer imposed an unacceptable condition: full control of the program in exchange for funding (“and believe me,” Staver writes, “the offer involved millions of dollars”).
Staver and Singer clashed on another issue, too. Staver is one of the staunchest and best known anti-gay activists in the country. His rhetoric has been so strident that the Southern Poverty Law Center deems Liberty Counsel a hate group. Singer, in contrast, is a prominent pro-LGBTQ activist who runs a political action committee (American Unity PAC) dedicated to electing gay-friendly Republicans. Repeating a classic homophobic trope, Staver suggests that Singer’s real goal in partnering with MOTB is to “appear one way to ... young Christian leaders and then recruit them for his LGBT agenda.” A Passages partnership would have made Staver and Singer allies on one issue and antagonists on another.
But any remaining chance for a partnership collapsed after the May 2015 announcement at the Israeli embassy, where Green and Singer in effect hijacked Staver’s idea. Staver was left behind to complain about how things had played out and to criticize Singer’s advocacy of gay rights. But there was one thing Green and Singer could not legally take from Staver: the name “Covenant Journey.” Liberty Counsel had already trademarked it in 2014.
Neither MOTB nor Philos Project has publicly offered their sides of the story on their dealings with Liberty Counsel, and there is no hint on either’s website that they were ever connected to it in any way. They dropped the name Covenant Journey, despite all the fanfare with which they had announced it at the Israeli embassy, and MOTB scrubbed any references to it from its website. In January 2016 a Philos Project news release mentioned the new name, Passages. The moniker took advantage of the MOTB brand; Passages was also the name of a traveling exhibit of some of the museum’s holdings. As for Covenant Journey, it continues as a ministry of Liberty Counsel. Its website takes pains to explain its broken relationship with MOTB and to differentiate itself from Passages.
Tax filings available through organizations like GuideStar that monitor non-profits’ finances corroborate Staver’s basic assertion of ties between his group, MOTB, and Philos Project. Staver claims that when he raised concerns that Singer’s involvement might alienate conservative Christian donors, MOTB proposed obscuring that role by funneling Singer’s money through Philos Project. Whether the details of Staver’s story are accurate or not, it is true that significant funds shifted between these three organizations. MOTB’s 2014 filing reports that between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015, it gave $275,000 to Covenant Journey and $90,000 to Liberty Counsel. Philos Project’s 2015 tax forms note that in that calendar year it gave $500,000, by far its biggest grant, to MOTB. Regardless of the sequence or timing of the gifts, Philos Project’s donation to MOTB more than covered MOTB’s contribution to Covenant Journey. MOTB’s tax forms for the next fiscal year reflect its changing direction, recording a $359,759 grant to Covenant Journey but an even larger one, $451,000, to Passages America Israel, owner of the Passages trademark.
Tax forms also show that Passages took more than just Covenant Journey’s idea; it also lured away staff members to make up its own board of directors. Covenant Journey’s 2015 filing lists among its employees Philos Project’s Robert Nicholson, former Netanyahu advisor Rivka Kidron, and Max Karpel, a hedge fund lawyer who now works for Singer. These individuals constitute Passages’ entire board; MOTB’s Allen Quine was a fourth member until his recent resignation.
What this history reveals is the thoroughly ideological nature of Passages, from the conception of such a program by Liberty Counsel to its reformulation by MOTB and Philos Project. Passages is not some sort of broadly Christian guide to the Holy Land. To the contrary, its Christian Zionist assumptions place it on a very particular point on the larger spectrum of Christian theology. Through Singer and Philos Project, it is also associated with a very particular--and partisan--point on the American political spectrum. Furthermore, its Netanyahu connections arguably link it to a very specific point on the Israeli political spectrum.
MOTB explains on its tax returns, “The organization requires confirmation of the use of all grants made to various organizations that were made as part of their artifact sharing mission.” Yet any obvious connection between MOTB’s “artifact-sharing mission” and Passages is difficult to see. Passages’ mission is not related to artifact-sharing at all; it is to promote certain political and theological sensibilities about Israel and Palestine.
MOTB is one of Forbes’ “100 Largest U.S. Charities.” It is fortunate to have ample resources to use in any way it sees fit. There is nothing inherently wrong or unseemly with a group using its assets to promote its religious beliefs and political preferences. What is problematic, however, is to claim to supporters, students, scholars, and schools to be an even-handed educational organization while advancing a particular theopolitical agenda. If MOTB is going to sponsor an advocacy group like Passages, it should be more transparent about it and drop the pretense of neutrality. Unless the museum’s programs reflect the balance its promotional materials claim, its own passage to credibility will be a long one.
 See, for example, E. Flock, “Hobby Lobby Thinks the Bible Can Save America: Now its Museum has to Convince its Critics,” PBS NewsHour, July 28, 2017 (http://www.pbs.org/newshour/art/hobby-lobby-thinks-bible-can-save-america-now-museum-convince-critics/). For the agenda of one of MOTB’s past projects, a public school Bible curriculum, see Mark A. Chancey, Can This Class Be Saved? The ‘Hobby Lobby Bible Curriculum (Austin: Texas Freedom Network Education Fund, 2014) (http://tfn.org/publication/can-this-class-be-saved-the-hobby-lobby-public-school-bible-curriculum/) and C. Moss and J. Baden, Bible Nation: The United States of Hobby Lobby (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2017), 99-106, 116-136. For recent developments regarding MOTB, including the $3,000,000 payment imposed on Hobby Lobby by the Department of Justice for antiquities smuggling, see C. Moss and J. Baden, “Hobby Lobby’s Black-Market Buys Did Real Damage,” New York Times, July 6, 2017 (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/06/opinion/hobby-lobby-iraq-artifacts.html?mcubz=1); R. Gonzalez, “Hobby Lobby to Forfeit Smuggled Iraq Antiquities,” NPR, July 5, 2017 (http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/07/05/535698988/hobby-lobby-to-forfeit-smuggled-iraqi-antiquities); U. S. Department of Justice, “United States Files Civil Action to Forfeit Thousands of Ancient Iraqi Artifacts Imported by Hobby Lobby,” July 5, 2017 (https://www.justice.gov/usao-edny/pr/united-states-files-civil-action-forfeit-thousands-ancient-iraqi-artifacts-imported).
 Moss and Baden discuss recurring discrepancies between MOTB’s claims of neutrality and its actions in riveting detail in Bible Nation.
 G. Rosenblatt, “Birthright for Christian Millennials,” New York Jewish Week, Aug. 23, 2017 (http://jewishweek.timesofisrael.com/birthright-for-christian-millennials/); S. Bailey, “Birthright for Evangelicals? Hobby Lobby Family Funds New Israel Trips,” Washington Post, May 8, 2015 (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2015/05/08/birthright-for-evangelicals-hobby-lobby-family-funds-new-israel-trips/?utm_term=.5d010f7d0fd6).
 Rosenblatt, “Birthright for Christian Millennials;” M. Jacobs, “African American Students Take in All Sides of Israel,” Detroit Jewish News, July 19, 2017 (https://thejewishnews.com/2017/07/19/religions-terrorism-african-american-students-take-sides-israel/); N. Guttman, “Introducing Birthright for Evangelical Christians,” Forward, May 17, 2015 (http://forward.com/news/israel/308228/birthright-isnt-only-for-jews-anymore/).
 M. Ginsberg, “In Sderot, The Bomb-Shelter Capital of the World,” Times of Israel, July 11, 2014 (https://www.timesofisrael.com/in-sderot-the-bomb-shelter-capital-of-the-world/).
 See, for example, a January 5, 2017 Facebook post by Houston Baptist University’s Christians for Israel Association; a July 31, 2016 Passages Facebook post; and K. Pearson, “‘Distance Does Not Negate Reality, Nor Does It Nullify Responsibility…’”, Passages, June 20, 2016 (https://passagesisrael.org/story/distance-does-not-negate-reality-nor-does-it-nullify-responsibility/).
 Passages, “About Us: Passages Now” (https://passagesisrael.org/about-us/ - passage-now) and “Passages Now” (https://passagesisrael.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/PN-Selections-1-Page-2.0.pdf).
 Rosenblatt, “Birthright for Christian Millennials.”
 See the video from the Garden of Gethsemane in Passages' Jan. 7, 2017 Facebook post (https://www.facebook.com/passagesisrael/videos/1920521881502375/).
 Pre-Trib Research Center, “What We Believe” (http://www.pre-trib.org/about/what-we-believe). On Quine's membership on the board, see the Google cache page available by searching for “Passages,” “Israel,” and “About Us.” On premillennial dispensationalism and Christian Zionism, see Victoria Clark, Allies for Armageddon: The Rise of Christian Zionism (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007).
 While evangelicals and other Christians might support Israel for a variety of reasons, my usage of the term “Christian Zionists” refers only to those who do so because of this theological rationale.
 J. Gamet, “Six Reasons Why Everyone Should Support Israel,” Philos Project, June 22, 2016 (https://philosproject.org/support-israel-religious-political/).
 R. Nicholson, “Evangelicals and Israel: What American Jews Don’t Want to Know (but Need To),” Philos Project, October 22, 2014 (https://philosproject.org/evangelicals-and-israel-what-american-jews-dont-want-to-know-but-need-to/).
 S. Poorman, “Why is Israel a Land Flowing with Milk and Honey?” Philos Project, June 17, 2016 (https://philosproject.org/israel-a-land-flowing-with-milk-and-honey/).
 G. Gunner and R. Smith, eds., Comprehending Christian Zionism: Perspectives in Comparison (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2014); S. Spector, Evangelicals and Israel: The Story of American Christian Zionism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008); S. Goldman, Zeal for Zion: Christians, Jews and the Idea of the Promised Land (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press 2009).
 Rosenblatt, “Birthright for Christian Millennials;” E. Clifton, “The Jewish Billionaire Behind a New Christian Anti-Iran Group,” LobeLog, March 6, 2015 (https://lobelog.com/the-jewish-billionaire-behind-a-new-christian-anti-iran-group/); Guttman, “Introducing Birthright for Evangelical Christians.”
 On Singer’s connections to these groups, see M. Haberman and N. Confessore, “Paul Singer, Influential Billionaire, Throws Support to Marco Rubio for President,” New York Times, Oct. 30, 2015 (https://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/31/us/politics/paul-singer-influential-billionaire-throws-support-to-marco-rubio-for-president.html?mcubz=1&_r=0); the Manhattan Institute, “About: The Board of Trustees” (https://www.manhattan-institute.org/board-of-trustees); and R. Gray, “A Right-Leaning Foreign Policy Think Tank Shuts Down,” Atlantic, June 29, 2017 (https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/06/a-right-leaning-foreign-policy-shuts-down/532311/).
 See, for example, J. Potter, “What is the Real Obstacle to a Two-State Solution?” Philos Project, Jan. 17, 2017 (https://philosproject.org/real-obstacle-two-state-solution/); J. Payne, “Why is the Iran Deal a Bad Deal?” Philos Project, March 9, 2015 (https://philosproject.org/why-is-the-iran-deal-a-bad-deal/); A. Harrod, “Iran and the Indispensability of Military Force,” Philos Project, Sept. 18, 2015 (https://philosproject.org/iran-and-the-indispensability-of-military-force/)
 “Mat Staver Speaks at Israeli Embassy for Israel Solidarity Event,” Liberty Counsel press release, May 3, 2013 (https://www.lc.org/newsroom/details/mat-staver-speaks-at-israeli-embassy-for-israel-solidarity-event-1).
 “Liberty Counsel Hires Former Advisor to Israel’s Prime Minister for Israel Program,” Liberty Counsel press release, May 13, 2013 (https://lc.org/newsroom/details/liberty-counsel-hires-former-advisor-to-israeli-prime-minister-for-israel-program-1).
 A. Harvey, “Law School Students Complete First Study Trip to Israel,” Liberty University News Service, June 14, 2012 (http://www.liberty.edu/alumni/alumni-news/?MID=56931).
 Z. Reinstein, “Minister Plans ‘Taglit’ for Christians,” Ynetnews, Sept. 3, 2013 (http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4425678,00.html).
 “Israel Tour Gives Students a Vision of the Holy Land,” Pensacola Christian College press release, Feb. 11, 2015 (https://www.pcci.edu/newsevents/2015/israeltrip.asp).
 Covenant Journey, “About Covenant Journey.” On MOTB and Covenant Journey, see Moss and Baden, Bible Nation, 111-113.
 A. Silverman, “New Taglit Type Program Launches for Christian College Students,” Jerusalem Post, May 12, 2015 (http://www.jpost.com/Christian-News/New-Taglit-Type-Program-launches-for-Christian-College-Students-402825); Bailey, “Birthright for Evangelicals?”; Guttman, “Introducing Birthright for Evangelical Christians.”
 Mathew Staver, “Meet the GOP Billionaire Behind LGBT Push,” WND, July 27, 2016 (http://www.wnd.com/2016/07/meet-the-gop-billionaire-behind-lgbt-push/").
 Southern Poverty Law Center, “Liberty Counsel” (https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/group/liberty-counsel).
 Staver, “Meet the GOP Billionaire Behind LGBT Push.”
 Mat Staver, “LGBT Activist Attempts to Gain Christian’s [sic] Trust: Don’t Fall for It,” The Blaze, July 25, 2016 (http://www.theblaze.com/contributions/lgbt-activist-attempts-to-gain-christians-trust-dont-fall-for-it/); Liberty Counsel press release, “Paul Singer Behind ‘Enemies’ List Propaganda,” July 12, 2016 (https://www.lc.org/newsroom/details/071216-paul-singer-behind-enemies-list-propaganda).
 L. Moon, “Passages College Student Program Launches,” Philos Project, Jan. 16, 2016 (https://philosproject.org/passages-college-student-program-launches/).
 R. Lindsey, “Passages: A Glimpse into the Hobby Lobby Family’s Bible Museum,” Religion & Politics, Sept. 24, 2014 (http://religionandpolitics.org/2014/09/24/passages-a-glimpse-into-the-hobby-lobby-familys-bible-museum/).
 Covenant Journey, “About Covenant Journey.”
 Staver, “Meet the GOP Billionaire Behind LGBT Push.”
 MOTB, Schedule I, Form 990, 2014.
 Philos Project, Schedule I, Form 990, 2015.
 MOTB, Schedule I, Form 990, 2015.
 Covenant Journey, Form 990, 2015.
 Passages, “About Us.”
 MOTB, Schedule F, Form 990, 2014 and Schedule F, Form 990, 2015.
 “The 100 Largest U.S. Charities,” Forbes, 2016 (https://www.forbes.com/companies/museum-of-the-bible/)
Author's note: Since the initial publication of this article, Allen Quine's name has been added back to the list of members of Passages' Board of Directors.
#1 - Mark Chancey - 10/26/2017 - 16:20
Museum of the Bible provided an additional $1,483,333 to Passages between July 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018, according to MOTB, Schedule I, Form 990, 2017.
#2 - Mark Chancey - 05/07/2019 - 16:31
I went on the trip earlier this year and am now required to listen to material created by the Philos Project, and write papers to receive a $200 program deposit back. The trip was very biased towards Israel and gave the illusion of neutrality but a few individuals outside of the organization offered incredible insight. My priest was able to reveal the dangers surrounding Christian Zionism and point out what was symbolism when referring to the rapture and other biblical scripture. My priest's insight helped me understand that Jesus often used symbolism for contemporary political purposes. The symbolism about Armageddon taking place in Jewish occupied Israel and all nations coming to war is now mistakenly and dangerously interpreted by many Christians as fact. Another source that was not-so-sponsored by Passages was a journalist not listed on the itinerary. He was practically sneaked into our tour bus while our host was absent. We visited Palestine and he explained how the Israeli's had control over the Palestinian water supply and allowed us to tour the towering border wall with barbed wire pointed into Palestine. I do realize the fundamental problem of Palestine educating it's own population of youth to despise Christianity and Israel with hostility but I also see why they would feel this way because of their lack of resources while Israel lives in comfort. Understanding and education is required on both sides and the leadership of Palestine prevents Israel innovation and aid from coming to their country but the Israeli's take no true effort to help the needy in Palestine while conquering and holding water resources like the Sea of Galilee and building walls around them. The walls and fences were incredible, when approaching other nations borders even the hotel was high security, it is made to look like a simple tourist retreat but two fences with barbed wire and a security checkpoint at night show that there is always a fear of invasion again or a strong determination to keep outside nations far away. Please email me for inquiry, I would like to share what I have seen in an ultimate effort to shine truth on these nations and gain insight on what direction any man-made Armageddon is heading
#3 - William Scherer - 07/19/2019 - 21:09
See also Mark A. Chancey, "Museum of the Bible's Politicized Holy Land Trip," in Jill Hicks-Keeton and Cavan Concannon, eds., The Museum of the Bible: A Critical Introduction (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books/ Fortress Academic, 2019), 275-294.
#4 - Mark Chancey - 09/21/2019 - 17:58
Since this essay was written, Passages has added Bethlehem in the West Bank to its itinerary.