Huffpost Politics
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Michael Schaub Headshot

The Lion, The Witch, The Billionaire and the Governor

Posted: Updated:

If you assumed that Laura was the only member of the Bush family even remotely interested in literature, prepare to be shocked. Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida seems to have caught the reading bug, too — just in time to help out a billionaire Republican donor. The Palm Beach Post reports that Bush's "Just Read, Florida" program has selected CS Lewis' The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (which, as the director of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State correctly points out, is a "retelling of the story of Christ") as its most recent selection. This coincides with the film adaptation of the book, which opens in December, and is co-produced by Walden Media — a company owned by Colorado Republican Philip Anschutz.

The program offers a series of contests for Florida students, with prizes including a private screening of the film, a vacation at a Disney resort, and a copy of the book autographed by Jeb and his wife. (And I bet all the kids are just pushing each other aside for a chance to win Columba Bush's autograph.) No one is really questioning Lewis' literary worth — he's an exceedingly well-regarded author — but some are concerned that the selection is an attempt to Christianize the students of Florida. It's a particularly odd choice for Jeb and Columba, who are Roman Catholics — Lewis is widely regarded as having been anti-Catholic (although it's true that many Catholics love the Narnia books, and detect no hint of prejudice in them).

But would it have been so difficult to select a book that didn't obviously financially benefit an already rich-ass Republican donor? And if they're going to push Christian dogma on Florida schoolchildren, why not just pick the New Testament? They could start with Matthew 19:24. But along with all the verses about tolerance and judging not lest ye be judged, that's probably one part of the Bible the religious right chooses to ignore.