King James Saves Initially Cancelled ‘God Bless the USA’ Bible

By Bob Smietana

The controversial God Bless the USA Bible is still on track, with a little help from a long-dead British king.

A Nashville-based marketing firm had planned to publish a New International Version Bible that paired the Christian Scriptures with the U.S. Constitution, Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights and Pledge of Allegiance, along with lyrics to “God Bless the U.S.A.,” the 1984 patriotic anthem from country singer Lee Greenwood.

Hugh Kirkpatrick of Nashville-based Elite Source Pro said he had reached an agreement with HarperCollins, whose subsidiary Zondervan is licensed to publish the NIV, to produce 1,000 copies of the Bible and already had more than 500 orders.

After news about the Bible was reported by ReligionUnplugged, an online magazine, several Christian book authors published by Zondervan objected. More than 800 people also signed an online petition as well.

Kirkpatrick said HarperCollins then contacted him and backed out of the project, which he said was disappointing. But that’s the way things go, he said.

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“It’s not the end of the world,” Kirkpatrick told Religion News Service. “I believe that from a business perspective, they have the freedom to make their own decisions.”

Kirkpatrick said his contacts at HarperCollins had already done some design work on the God Bless the USA Bible. He’s now taken those files, along with the text of the King James Version of the Bible — which is in the public domain — and sent them to several printers. He hopes to finalize plans for printing the Bibles, which will have an imitation leather cover, this week.

Kirkpatrick, who is 58, described himself as a nondenominational Christian who loves America. He said the audience for the Bible is people like him — who care about their country and spirituality. He worries our current political divides have made it difficult for people to appreciate the country’s heritage.

The flag on the Bible’s cover represents America — not former President Donald Trump, he said.

For him, the God Bless the USA Bible is a patriotic book, not a sign of Christian nationalism. Kirkpatrick also believes the nation’s Founding Fathers were inspired by the words in the Bible and that it will be helpful to have both the Scripture and the Constitution in the same book.

Kirkpatrick believes America was once a Christian country but it has been “sliding away from that.” And he does worry about the future.

“The Bible and the Constitution someday could be a banned item in the United States,” he said. “That sounds odd even to say but there are other countries around the world that you can’t have a Bible.”

There have been other patriotic-themed Bibles in the past.  Nashville-based Thomas Nelson, which is now owned by HarperCollins, published The American Patriot’s Bible, which includes the Scripture and essays about American history, in 2009. There is also an “In God We Still Trust” devotional, a 1599 Geneva Bible: Patriot’s Edition and The Founders’ Bible, the latter from evangelical author David Barton.

(Sports fans can also buy a copy of the “New England Patriots Bible Verses” devotional, featuring “100 motivational verses for the Believer.”)

The God Bless the USA Bible, which is scheduled to be available in September, can be ordered online at the project website, which also features a video of an updated version of “God Bless the U.S.A.,” featuring Greenwood and members of the U.S. military.

Kirkpatrick predicts the controversy over the project will turn it into a hit.

“This project is not stopped,” he said. “In fact, it’s got gasoline poured on it.”

Bob SmietanaBob Smietana is a national reporter for Religion News Service.

 
 
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20 thoughts on “King James Saves Initially Cancelled ‘God Bless the USA’ Bible”

  1. I made a joking comment on the previous article about the King James version being un-American. It keeps getting harder to distinguish satire from reality. But the fact that Kirkpatrick is hoping that controversy will drive up sales makes him equivelent to those whom Jesus drove out of the temple with a whip.

    1. Bonnie Lindblom

      Loren, I don’t have much of an opinion on this Bible, and don’t know the players in this story. But I did want to point out that the article does not quote Kirkpatrick as “hoping” that the controversy drives up sales, but *predicting* that it will.

      It also sounds like he was not outraged by HarperCollins’ withdrawal, but respected the company’s right to conduct business as it sees fit.

      1. He’s in the marketing business. Producing a needlessly controversial and divisive packaging of God’s word stinks of greed. He’s clearly hoping to ride the current wave of nationalism with this.

  2. It is corrupting the Word of God. As if somehow America is at the centre of God’s redemptive plan as revealed in Holy Scripture.

    1. Amen.
      When “God and Country” are treated as two equally important loyalties, when the flag is made equal to the cross, when we imply that the God who is “no respecter of nations” specially favors the U.S., when we follow liars like David Barton who promote false history and “Christian nation” myths, when a national flag is featured in God’s sanctuary, when we make flag, country, and military sacred objects of a devotion that rivals (and in practice often exceeds) our devotion to Jesus — it is idolatry, plain and simple.
      “Americanism” serves today as a false, substitute religion for many.

      The flag/cross drawing at the top of the story is not unlike the symbol used by the “German Christians” in the 1930s, which one can see on Wikipedia:
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_Christians_(movement)
      Ever since the Emperor Constantine, this sort of thing has been a major corrupting influence on the church. Jesus today might add to his Matthew 6:24 statement about Mammon “You cannot serve God and Uncle Sam”.

      1. I angered my Pastor years ago over a book he carried in the book store, it was written by William J Federer and it was quotations that proved America was a “Christian Nation”. I read through it and anything would do, It had a dozen Popes, Edgar Allan Poe, anyone that said “God” was quoted and made the cut 😂

        So I go to the footnotes at the back of the book and you won’t find a single chapter that he doesn’t quote David Barton as a source. I pointed that out to my pastor but he wasn’t feeling it. Then I showed him (not her) it had a forward from one of the NAR Apostles, then he – reluctantly – pulled it.

      2. And this idolatry and might I say blasphemy was on full display on Jan. 6 , when lawless mobs mounted their insurrection in DC. That banners promoting Trump were alongside banners with the words like Jesus saves , as if one was the same as the other. You can be a Christian who loves Jesus Christ or you can be a full blooded Nationalist , but you cant be both. Christ did not come to establish an earthly kingdom , but rather to take us out of this present evil world. He could say – ” they are not of this world just as I am not of this world.”

  3. Brian Patrick

    I roll my eyes at this, it’s silly, but it’s less damaging and blasphemous in my eyes than replacing the gospel with CRT as Greear and the Moores have done.

    1. Have those men tried to produce a product (or Bible) that does what this project is trying to do? (money-making & idolatry)
      No, they haven’t. Not even close to equivalent. And this is far, far worse.

      1. Brian Patrick

        Andrew Zook,

        To me, this repackaged Bible is stupid, silly, and immature. On the other hand, the CRT “gospel” is a modern-day version of the Arian and Gnostic “gospels” rolled into one–and then some. I am not defending either but there’s no contest as to which is the more mortal threat to impressionable souls. Who was Jesus warning against in Revelation when he spoke against the Jezebelian and Nicolaitan heresies: patriots who overdo it, or pagan wolves slapping the name of Christ onto heathen Greco-Romanism?

        Apples and oranges, my friend. One is bad, but the utter is completely antithetical to the salvific work of the Cross itself.

        1. If we look to a human-constructed nation as the instrument of our salvation, making it equal to Jesus among our ultimate loyalties, it is hard to think of anything that could be more “completely antithetical to the salvific work of the Cross.”
          The problem is not this particular silly Bible — it is the idolatrous and often neighbor-hating Christian nationalism that it represents and feeds.

          And while I’m no big fan of CRT to the limited extent that I understand it (many who criticize it have little understanding and are attacking a strawman), its core tenet that the sin of racism is manifest not only in individual humans but also in the systems that humans construct seems very consistent with the gospel.

    2. Maybe there’s money to be made with a CRT bible too. I’m thinking they could name it the “God (bleep) America” bible after the Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s infamous sermon.

  4. The Bible to men like Kirkpatrick is just a book like any other, and is a means to make his gain.

    Fools like this have no fear of God but go around pretending to do things good for Gods people.

    “Lord, Lord! Did we not…”

  5. Christopher Hanley

    My goodness! You people are aware, aren’t you, that “God Bless the U.S.A.” is a song about the farm foreclosure crisis. Check out YouTube for Greenwood’s video of the song, complete with ‘Auction Sale’ signs in the background.

  6. Stanley Goodwin

    Americans are so proud and in love with themselves. Instead of “God Bless the USA” attitude, it ought to be “God have Mercy on the USA”.

  7. Susan Vonder Heide

    The hysteria around this proposed Bible seems over the top. There are Bibles for students, for women, for men, etc. Why not a Bible for Americans? If somebody did a baseball Bible for people who liked baseball and the baseball pictures encouraged somebody to pick it up and read the Biblical text that would be fine too and there are countless other wholesome possibilities. What these critics seem to have done is to get this project changed from an easily understood translation to a less easily understood translation which does not seem like an achievement.

  8. George Arthur

    Rest assured if there was a Social Justice Study Bible most conservatives would be up in arms over it and insist that the publisher be boycotted.

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