An image of the planned “God Bless the USA” Bible. (Courtesy of Elite Source Pro)

After Pushback HarperCollins Will Not Produce ‘God Bless The USA’ Bible

By Meagan Clark

A new Bible that includes singer Lee Greenwood’s licensed lyrics to “God Bless the USA” and America’s Pledge of Allegiance is off to a rough start.

The custom Bible’s Tennessee-based seller, marketing firm Elite Source Pro. led by Hugh Kirkpatrick, lost a manufacturing agreement to print the New International Version Bible text after a petition circulated in response to an article in Religion Unplugged, asking Zondervan and HarperCollins to drop the project. Neither HarperCollins nor its evangelical publishing groups Zondervan and Thomas Nelson will support the Bible product anymore. Zondervan released a statement that the publisher never finalized a formal agreement with Elite Source Pro.

The “God Bless the USA” Bible includes the full texts in the public domain of the U.S. Constitution, Bill of Rights, Declaration of Independence and Pledge of Allegiance, without commentary. The Bible was marketed for pre-sale for $49.99 and expected to ship in September 2021 for the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

“This is a toxic mix that will exacerbate the challenges to American evangelicalism, adding fuel to the Christian nationalism and anti-Muslim sentiments found in many segments of the evangelical church,” the petition by Utah-based Christian John Morehead reads.

The NIV is the best-selling modern English translation of the Bible and is licensed in North America by HarperCollins Christian Publishing Inc, a parent company of Zondervan and Thomas Nelson, evangelical publishers. Zondervan is known for its NIV Bibles, associated Bible study materials and evangelical Christian books, while Thomas Nelson publishes King James and New King James Bibles and evangelical Christian books. 

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In response to an article in Religion Unplugged, several Christian authors who have published with Zondervan, led by Shane Claiborne, wrote a letter condemning Christian nationalism and criticizing the “God Bless the USA” Bible. Zondervan issued a statement May 25 distancing itself from the project.

“Zondervan is not publishing, manufacturing or selling the ‘God Bless the USA Bible’,” the statement emailed to Religion Unplugged reads. “While we were asked for a manufacturing quote, ultimately the project was not a fit for either party, and the website and marketing of the NIV project were premature.”

HarperCollins Christian Publishing had suggested the NIV text to Kirkpatrick, he said, and gave him quotes for the printing, which HarperCollins would have arranged.

“The sample [of the ‘God Bless the USA’ Bible] they sent us to review was from Zondervan,” he said. “They sent me a physical Bible in a physical box and it says NIV Zondervan on the Bible.”

Bible publishers often produce custom Bibles for special events or groups from Christian sororities to sports teams. Printing the entirety of the NIV Bible text in the U.S. requires a license from HarperCollins Christian Publishing Inc. or a manufacturing agreement with them. Zondervan explains on its website that obtaining the license requires layers of approval, including approving descriptions of additional content that will be added to the Bible text and knowing the target audience and size.

Kirkpatrick initially requested 1,000 “God Bless the USA” Bibles and then based on pre-sales, asked for 20,000 more. The Bible was doing “very well in pre-sale” with about 700 orders, Kirkpatrick told ReligionUnplugged before the Bible’s agreement with HarperCollins was reported.

On May 25, Kirkpatrick met with HarperCollins Christian Publishing representatives hoping to explore options to produce the “God Bless the USA” Bible with the New King James translation through Thomas Nelson. 

“They’re [HarperCollins] trying to figure a way to get it done,” Kirkpatrick said ahead of the meeting on Tuesday. “They want to keep everybody happy. They want to keep their fans on the left and right.”

In the end, HarperCollins decided to halt production of the “God Bless the USA” Bible. They worked “very graciously” with Kirkpatrick, he said, to give him digital files of the Bible that he plans to print with a King James translation that is not copyrighted. The whole ordeal only set him back a few hundred dollars, he said. When asked if he had paid for the first 1,000 Bibles that HarperCollins had agreed to print, Kirkpatrick said he wasn’t supposed to comment on that. 

“Let’s just say I have [the money] back,” he said. “This doesn’t matter, whether they paid me back. The customer is going to get their product or they’ll get a refund… the God I believe in is running the show, not me.”

A HarperCollins representative said that there was not a financial transaction with Kirkpatrick.

In 2009, Thomas Nelson published the American Patriot’s Bible, which uses the New King James Version and is marketed as “the one Bible that shows how ‘a light from above’ shaped our nation.” The Bible does not include U.S. founding documents but includes several articles arguing America’s founding was divinely inspired, commentary like “Seven Principles of the Judeo-Chistian Ethic” and quotes about scripture from founding presidents. The patriot’s Bible is edited by Dr. Richard Lee, former president of the Pastors’ Conference of the Southern Baptist Convention. HarperCollins Christian Publishing Inc. acquired Thomas Nelson in 2012.  

News Corp, the media conglomerate owned by Rupert Murdoch that includes Fox News, bought the publishing house Collins and merged it with Harper & Row to create HarperCollins in 1989. Since 2012, Thomas Nelson and Zondervan have operated as publishing groups of HarperCollins Christian Publishing Inc.

Another similar Bible that wraps in parts of America’s founding documents is the Founder’s Bible that includes evangelical author David Barton’s commentary on the documents and Bible passages that he argues influenced the creation of the U.S. Constitution and government. The Founder’s Bible uses the New American Standard Bible translation, published by the Lockman Foundation.

This article originally appeared in Religion Unplugged and is reprinted with permission.

Meagan Clark is the managing editor of Religion Unplugged. She has reported for Newsweek, International Business Times, Dallas Morning News, Religion News Service and several outlets in India, including Indian Express and the Wire. 

 

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23 thoughts on “After Pushback HarperCollins Will Not Produce ‘God Bless The USA’ Bible”

    1. Sad? The Bible “versions” are all changed anyway. BEST thing that could happen is they use the ORIGINAL Holy Bible anyway! The King James Bible…. God’s inspired words in English with nothing changed to obtain a Copyright to make their money. (Zondervan, that is) We’re not to worship this country either.. but God ALONE.. I’m not sure the founding documents belong in a Holy Bible, but I digress, Want an “all American Bible, the King James is it anyway. The NIV steals Jesus’ deity — or does no one pay attention??

      1. “God’s inspired words in English with nothing changed”

        The Bible was of course not written in English. So it was indeed changed, just as it is when translated into Chinese or Italian or Inuit.

      2. Seems like if you’re going to do a “God Bless the USA” bible, it would make more sense to use an American Standard Version rather than an International Version. And using one named after a King of England? How un-American!

        1. Edwin Alvarez

          It’s all about the marketing baby. Print a bible sized copy of the founding documents and add them to your Bible, result: God Bless USA bible for free. Seriously Zondervan’s R&D did not see this was going to be a problem?

      3. Tony Nazarowski

        Marie – Can you and others opine here as to why the KJV is better than other versions?

        I don’t have an opinion here other than to say the old English is unnecessarily complex. If that dialect is indeed better, I would expect that others on this forum would mirror it in their statements. Maybe I’m missing something here. Help me out.

  1. Shawnele Surplus

    “They want to keep everybody happy. They want to keep their fans on the left and right.”

    I am flabbergasted by how nearly-completely Satan has successfully used politics to delude and derail the American church.

  2. While there is much that is good about our nation and, yes, I am proud to be an American, God sits in judgment of all nations and America is not exempt. God is under no obligation to “bless the good ‘ole USA.” Frankly, there are many reasons we should be crying out for mercy rather than expecting his blessing. Again, while I have great appreciation for the constitution, founding fathers, founding documents, etc., they are not worthy to be compared to the Word of God. To have them side by side with the words of Moses, David or Paul is problematic.

    So, actually not so sad about this decision, even if possibly driven by cancel culture efforts or whatever. The Lord alone, he is God!

    To be candid, not really a big fan of any such specialized theme Bibles.

    1. Charles Martel

      Ron,

      I agree completely. Though a few specialty bibles like ones made from waterproof material for boaters, anglers, etc. do make some sense. Of course all the “Christian” knickknacks and kitsch sold along with all these themed Bibles in Christian bookstores and websites has been derisively and aptly called Je$u$ Junk.

  3. Richard DeVries

    I’ve read that the NIV was the best selling Bible version for a long time, then came out with a version that does not sell. The ESV, English Standard Version, has become number one. A very large segment is the Gideons International which now used the ESV.
    The quotations in the proposed Bible could also have included the Supreme Court statement that the United States is a Christian Nation.

  4. George Arthur

    Will it be signed by Donald Trump, have two Corinthians in the New Testament and have an upside down edition like the one used by Trump when he had his photo op in front of that church after the protesters were forced away?

    1. Lol! Will it have that verse about giving mulligans when someone has an affair with a porn star? Maybe that’s in Two Corinthians. I’ll check the “Tony Perkins” concordance. This is a Family Research Council approved version, right? Must be there somewhere…

  5. gregory smith

    The true Christian remnant in the US needs to humble itself and pray for forgiveness and healing. There’s precious little evidence of same so far. A designer Bible ain’t gonna cut it. As an above comment states, God is not obliged to bless any nation, as all are sinners.

  6. American Christian’s, as a group, are the most ignorant and deceived people in all the world.
    Harper Collins is NOT Christian never has been nor ever will be
    .The NIV has been adulterated to the point that specific words and phases have been deleted to remove the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!
    When you buy an NIV. you are supporting the printing and distribution of the Satanic Bible that Harper Collins owns. The main reason for Harper Collins to try and buy up all rights to any kind of Bible is to replace the truth for lies. Rupert Murdock is a Zionist and and his role is to help destroy Christianity.
    Every Christian needs to burn their NIVs. Stay with the original King James. The best Bible is the 1901 American Standard. Not the revised version.
    Christians don’t need a patriotic Bible. True Believers are sojourners and ambassadors for Christ. You should not pledge to any country in this world if you really belong to Christ’s. Kingdom!

  7. Stanley Goodwin

    Red Letter Christian Shane Claiborne comes through again. Thank you Shane. Our only true authority is the Lord Jesus and to follow His Way. January 6 is a wake up call to redirect and focus our lives on Jesus.

  8. Christopher Hanley

    Well now. Good thing the King James translators never included that Preface or the Apocrypha in their edition. Oh wait they did.

  9. Nationalism in the church is a cancer, harming the witness of the gospel and denigrating those from other nations, equally made in the image of God.
    As true in America today as it was in Germany in the 1930s.

  10. “Christian America” is a cult, driven by ignorance of history. Some of the founders were evangelicals, but not all of them, or even most of them. Many of them were what we would consider British Catholics. The ideas that flowed into the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution came from a mixture of Christianity, Deism, John Locke, and principles drawn from Roman history and classical Roman writers like Cicero and Marcus Aurelius. The name of the Lord Jesus was deliberately omitted from all the founding documents. A Bible package like this just pollutes and falsifies the faith of the Gospel.

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