Zondervan and HarperCollins will not publish or manufacture a version of the Bible that would feature various patriotic American documents for the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, contrary to concerns expressed online.
Earlier this month, Meagan Clark of Religion Unplugged wrote an article reporting that the Michigan-based international Christian media and publishing company was “in talks” to release the God Bless the USA Bible on the 20th anniversary of the terror attacks that killed thousands of Americans in 2001.
This Bible version will reportedly include the lyrics to the 1984 song “God Bless the USA,” the U.S. States Constitution, the Pledge of Allegiance and other historic American documents.
But Casey Francis Harrell, senior director of corporate communications at HarperCollins, Zondervan's parent company, stated in an email to The Christian Post on Thursday that the publisher had no plans to release the controversial version of the Bible.
“Zondervan is not publishing, manufacturing or selling the ‘God Bless the USA Bible,’” read the statement, which noted that nothing had been finalized between the two parties.
“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.”
As of Thursday morning, the Bible version is being promoted on a website and can be pre-ordered for $49.99. Copies are expected to be shipped in late September.
The initial report about the possibility of the God Bless the USA Bible being released prompted backlash online, including a petition backed by more than 900 signatories.
“Zondervan/HarperCollins has a been a great blessing to Christian publishing for many years. But a forthcoming volume damages this fine record,” the petition reads.
“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.”
In addition, authors who had had works published by Zondervan expressed concern over the possibility of the God Bless the USA Bible being published. They include Shane Claiborne of Red Letter Christians, progressive evangelical Pastor Doug Pagitt, activist and speaker Lisa Sharon Harper, New York Times bestselling author Jemar Tisby and Professor of Church Growth and Evangelism Soong-Chan Rah of North Park University in Chicago.
In an opinion column published by Religion Unplugged earlier this week, the same authors expressed support for the news that Zondervan was not going to publish the Bible version.
“This is not the first time there has been an attempt to fuse American nationalism with the holy book — in fact Thomas Nelson released ‘The American Patriot’s Bible’ over a decade ago, which was a very similar project,” they wrote.
“But what is new is a growing awareness of how dangerous nationalism is when coupled with faith," they added. "After all, the Bible does not say ‘God bless America.’ It says, ‘God so loved the world.’”
The God Bless the USA Bible is a product of a company called Elite Source Pro. The company's president, Hugh Kirkpatrick, had earlier confirmed to Religion Unplugged that Zondervan awarded the licensing for the Bible.
The website reported that the idea for the Bible version was formed when Kirkpatrick and his friends heard complaints from homeschool parents that public schools aren't requiring students to read and understand the U.S. Constitution or the Bill of Rights. Additionally, Kirkpatrick claimed that famous American symbols were increasingly being seen as "weaponized tools of the Republican party."