The ‘God Bless the USA’ Bible – which features a patriotic song, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and other national documents – has run into trouble.
“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 reporting by ReligionUnplugged, asking Zondervan and HarperCollins to drop the project,” Religion Unplugged reports.
“Neither HarperCollins nor its evangelical publishing groups Zondervan and Thomas Nelson will support the Bible product anymore.”
“Our hope is not in the donkey of the Democrats or the elephant of the GOP… or even in America.”
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Zondervan – a large evangelical publishing house – holds the USA publishing rights to the NIV. Several Zondervan writers have published an opinion piece, saying they are pleased Zondervan will not be involved in the God Bless the USA Bible.
“There are some seismic shifts happening among evangelical Christians in post-Trump America,” write the authors Shane Claiborne, Lisa Sharon Harper, Jemar Tisby and Soong-Chan Rah. “The latest is the creation of a ‘God Bless the USA’ Bible that would have melded America’s founding documents with the best-selling NIV Bible translation …
“As authors published by Zondervan, a division of HarperCollins Christian Publishing known for its NIV Bibles, and activists against Christian nationalism, we were alarmed at this news, first reported by Religion Unplugged. We’re delighted today that Zondervan announced it will not support this Bible.”
“From our screens, we watched the rioters on January 6 storm The Capitol. We can’t unsee the Jesus signs next to Trump signs, the Confederate flag paraded, the broken windows, injured bodies and officers assaulted. What some of us remember most are the prayers rioters prayed in the Senate chamber ‘in the name of Jesus’, including the now recognisable ‘QAnon Shama’n who wore Viking headgear and publicly thanked God for helping rioters take over the Capitol.
“After that day, hundreds of evangelicals, pastors, authors and faith leaders began to mobilise. We started texting and calling everyone we could, especially friends who transcend partisan politics and are committed to Jesus and the common good. We jumped on Zoom calls with some of the most influential evangelicals in the country.
“Before long we had a movement of evangelical Christians denouncing what happened on January 6 – as well as, and this is important, the conditions and theology that led up to the events on January 6. Over 5,000 pastors, faith leaders, bishops and authors signed on. And that was just the beginning. The momentum has continued to build, as evidenced in new websites like www.SayNoToChristianNationalism.org and www.LamentingChristianNationalism.org.
“Last week, some three months after the original petition launched, six different organisations, all led by people of colour, organised a week of action to respond to White supremacy and ‘Christian’ nationalism… and the ways that racism tries to camouflage itself as Christianity.
“It was during this week of action that we learned about the ‘God Bless the USA’ Bible …
“American nationalism is its own civil religion, where America rather than Jesus is the centre 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.
“Like any religion, it has its own liturgy, saints and holidays. These symbols are on full display in this new Bible – the eagle, the flag, the red, white and blue. America’s civil religion has its own creeds too in the new Bible – ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident …’ It has its own ‘worship’ songs – like ‘God Bless the USA’ and ‘I’m Proud to be an American,’ both by Lee Greenwood. 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 if we are to be good Christians, we may not always be the best Americans. The beatitudes of Jesus where he blesses the poor, the meek, the merciful, the peacemakers – can feel very different from the ‘beatitudes’ of America. Our money may say ‘In God We Trust’, but our economy often looks like the seven deadly sins.
“For Christians, our loyalty is to Jesus. That is who we pledge allegiance to. As the old hymn goes – ‘My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness/On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand’.
“Our hope is not in the donkey of the Democrats or the elephant of the GOP … or even in America.”