No matter your faith, there’s no denying that the Bible has played a major role in human history. Its contents have influenced society through the ages, while even the physical, printed book impacted history by helping revolutionize movable type printing in the 1400s.
Nearly five billion Bibles are believed to have been printed over the years. That’s a staggering number, especially when you realize that the total human population of the entire world is around seven billion. Like a lot of things these days, many of the books are made in China — and that supply was at risk of being cut off due to trade disputes.
President Donald Trump is moving ahead with plans for strong tariffs against China, but his administration just made sure that the Holy Bible won’t be on the list of affected items.
“The U.S. Trade Representative’s office said on Wednesday that Bibles were among about 25 product categories that were removed from 10% tariffs due to take effect on Sept. 1 and Dec. 15,” Reuters reported.
“Other products removed, because of their importance, included child safety seats, cranes used in ports and construction, shipping containers and certain types of fish,” the news wire continued.
It’s no secret that Chinese manufacturing has been booming in recent years. It’s hard to pick up anything from a store these days without seeing a “Made in China” label … and though you might not have realized it, there’s a good chance that includes your daily devotional as well.
“Around 60 percent of these imported religious items come from China — about $11 million worth last year, according to a Reuters analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data,” that source said.
Earlier this year, Bibles were set to be included in tariffs as high as 25 percent. This is because they fall under a nearly $800 million-per-year category of printed books, brochures and leaflets imported from the Asian nation.
The proposed restrictions would have likely made Bibles significantly more expensive, a thorny issue for people of faith.
It’s a thorny issue for publishers, too. Back in June, the president of HarperCollins Christian Publishing — a major Bible producer — explained that the tariffs could severely impact the steady production of the holy book.
“Due to the unique paper, printing, and binding needs of Bible production there are simply no U.S. vendors that could produce any significant portion of the volume needed to meet the demands of the U.S. market,” said Mark Schoenwald, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
“The current U.S. producers do not have the capacity or capabilities to handle the unique and intricate specifications that are required to produce the traditional Bible that more than 90-percent of Bible consumers purchase,” the HarperCollins executive continued.
He also warned that Chinese tariffs could cause a shortage of Bibles, and severely impact the ability of non-profit groups and churches to conduct outreach and ministry.
It looks like the president, or at least somebody on his team, was listening. With Bibles permanently exempt from the tariffs, Christian groups can breathe a sigh of relief.
This was a generally smart move for Trump. He has a strong Christian base, and exit polling from the 2016 presidential election shows that over 80 percent of “white born-again or evangelical Christians” sided with Trump over his rival Hillary Clinton.
There is, of course, a good chance most of those Christians will turn out for Trump again in 2020, but only if he continues to show that he is on the same page as his base. Protecting Bibles does just that, and you can be sure that the religious right is taking notice.
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