The “God Bless The USA Bible” was meant to be a regular Bible that also included the text of the Pledge of Allegiance, the U.S. Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights (separate from the Constitution, I guess), and the lyrics to “God Bless the USA” by singer Lee Greenwood (the book’s inspiration). At $49.99 a pop, it was scheduled for publication on the 20th anniversary of 9/11.
I’ll be honest. I didn’t find this that interesting when I first heard about it. (A Bible catering to MAGA cultists? What else is new.)
But there was pushback, even from Christian circles. The specific translation used in this Bible meant it presumably had a stamp of approval from Zondervan, one of the largest Christian book publishers in the world. One petition made the concerns explicit:
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.
That petition called for Zondervan/HarperCollins to cease publication of this book.
A handful of popular progressive Christians — some of whom have written books for the same publisher — also denounced the project:
American nationalism is its own civil religion, where America rather than Jesus is the center of attention. Instead of Jesus and the Church being the light of the world and the hope for humanity, America becomes the Messianic force in the world…. It has its own theology — manifest destiny, the doctrine of discovery and American exceptionalism. And this is precisely why it is dangerous to mesh patriotism with orthodox Christian faith.
After all, the Bible does not say “God bless America.” It says, “God so loved the world.” The national anthem should not be in the church hymnal, and the Pledge of Allegiance to the United States should not be in the Bible.
We don’t need to add anything to the Bible. We just need to live out what it already says.
And now, to my shock, the publishers say they will have nothing to do with this project. I would say they’ve canceled their participation, but more accurately, they say they never agreed to participate in the first place.
Meagan Clark at Religion Unplugged has the scoop:
Neither HarperCollins nor its evangelical publishing groups Zondervan and Thomas Nelson will support the Bible product anymore. Zondervan released a statement to Religion Unplugged that the publisher never finalized a formal agreement with Elite Source Pro.
“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.”
None of this means the book won’t be published. They may have to use a different translation of the Bible, but that may not even matter because I suspect the sort of people who buy these books don’t actually read the Bible anyway. More importantly, though, they won’t have support from a major player in the Christian publishing world.
The guy behind the project, Hugh Kirkpatrick, will just have to find a different publisher or do it all himself. I doubt he’ll have trouble either way. There’s a market for books tailored to people who don’t read many books.