A new specialty Bible based on Lee Greenwood’s lyrics to “God Bless the USA” and the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance is having trouble finding a publisher.
The “God Bless the USA” Bible’s seller, Elite Source Pro., was in discussion with HarperCollins and its evangelical publishing groups Zondervan and Thomas Nelson when a petition circulated online asking the project to be dropped. The publishing groups responded to the petition, stating they never finalized an agreement with Elite Source Pro. and would not support the product moving forward.
In addition to the Scriptures, the custom Bible will also include the full texts of the U.S. Constitution, Bill of Rights, Declaration of Independence and Pledge of Allegiance. The Bible was expected to ship in September 2021 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attack.
In a statement to Religion Unplugged, who were the first to report on the Bible’s publication, Zondervan wrote it would not move forward with the product as “ultimately the project was not a fit for either party, and the website and marketing of the NIV project were premature.”
While the project has not been scrapped entirely, many are grateful that big name publishing houses like HarperCollins and Zondervan are not partnering with the project. In response to the publisher’s announcement, several authors who have worked with HarperCollins wrote their support of the decision. Authors Shane Claiborne, Doug Pagitt, Lisa Sharon Harper, Jemar Tisby and Soong-Chan Rah co-wrote a statement explaining why this particular speciality Bible was dangerous to the faith.
“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. 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.”
This customized Bible is the latest in a long line of speciality Bibles. For years, Bibles have been made for specific groups of people. From Outdoorsmen to The Busy Mom, it’s easy to find a Bible that fits any lifestyle. These Bibles are typically harmless, and often include specific encouragement needed for your career/hobby/status in life. However, many worry that the “God Bless the USA” Bible has the potential to cause division within Christianity with its queasy mix of patriotism and Christian teaching, fueling the Christian nationalism movement that has been emboldened in recent years.
“This customized Bible is a reminder that the ‘Christian industry’ must do better to stand against the heretical and deadly ‘Christian’ nationalism that we saw on full display on Jan. 6,” wrote Claiborne. “It is like a spiritual virus, infecting our churches, homes and social institutions. Just as we take intentional actions to stop the spread of COVID, like wearing masks and staying six feet apart, we must take concrete steps to stop the spread of this theological virus.”