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Trump, China tariffs and God's holy word: Is there really a chance of a Bible shortage?

Trump, China tariffs and God's holy word: Is there really a chance of a Bible shortage?

This Associated Press story got really wide play this week, so you — like me — may have read it in your local newspaper, assuming you still subscribe to your local newspaper (and as a journalist, I hope you do).

I’m talking about AP’s news report out of Nashville, Tenn., on Bible publishers’ concerns about President Trump’s trade war.

It’s a fascinating piece on an industry that — I’ll admit — I don’t think about as much as I used to. It’s not that I don’t consider the Bible important anymore. As a Christian, I most certainly do.

It’s just that I personally do most of my Bible reading on my iPhone and iPad these days. I don’t even own a personal copy of the Scriptures in written form anymore.

But what about those people who do? Is there really a chance of a Bible shortage?

Here’s the news from AP:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Religious publishers say President Donald Trump’s most recent proposed tariffs on Chinese imports could result in a Bible shortage.

That’s because millions of Bibles — some estimates put it at 150 million or more — are printed in China each year. Critics of a proposed tariff say it would make the Bible more expensive for consumers and hurt the evangelism efforts of Christian organizations that give away Bibles as part of their ministry.

HarperCollins Christian Publishing President and CEO Mark Schoenwald recently told the U.S. Trade Representative that the company believes the Trump administration “never intended to impose a ‘Bible Tax’ on consumers and religious organizations,” according to a transcript of his remarks provided by the publisher.

The two largest Bible publishers in the United States, Zondervan and Thomas Nelson, are owned by HarperCollins, and they incur close to 75% of their Bible manufacturing expenses in China, Schoenwald said. Together, they command 38% of the American Bible market, he said.

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Friday Five: Trump Baptists, Roe v. Wade detractors, Catholic sex abuse, top Bible app and more

Friday Five: Trump Baptists, Roe v. Wade detractors, Catholic sex abuse, top Bible app and more

One of the most talked-about religion stories this week was the Washington Post's front-page Sunday narrative on a Baptist church in Alabama.

"Hit piece or masterpiece?" I asked about the in-depth news feature exploring why the rural congregation supports President Donald Trump. 

I invited readers to offer feedback, and I am pleased that several, including our own Terry Mattingly, did.

Here is what tmatt had to say:

Here is the question that kept bugging me: What is so crucial about this one congregation?

In terms of reporting methodology, how do we know that this congregation perfectly illustrates the state of mind in the complex world of American evangelicalism, even among SBC people?

Also, as always in this age, there is no serious attempt at all to engage the very, very conservative critics of Trump -- including some who said that they voted for him, but didn't want to do so. They wanted other options.

The story says that this congregation matters. Period. This is the perfect choir. Why?

By all means, check out all the comments. If you're so inclined, join the conversation.

In the meantime, let's dive into the Friday Five:

1. Religion story of the week: I earlier highlighted New York Times religion writer Elizabeth Dias' front-page story going "Inside the Ground Game to Reverse Roe v. Wade."

As I mentioned, Dias does an exceptional job of painting what feels, to me, like an authentic picture of these anti-abortion activists.

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