China Bans Online Sales of Bibles

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The proclamation which banned the online sale of Bibles gave no indication of the reason behind this restrictive measure against the distribution of the Bible.

As of April 1, 2018, Chinese Holy Bibles are no longer available for sale online, as demanded by the Chinese government. Not a single Bible can be found in Chinese online stores, including Taobao, JD, Dangdang and Amazon. Customers who had added a Bible to their shopping cart the day before are no longer able to complete their purchase. Only various “Bible stories” are still available for purchase.

The distribution of the Bible has always been restricted in China. Unlike the Quran and Buddhist Sutras, which are permitted to be freely sold both online and in brick-and-mortar bookstores, the Chinese Holy Bible is restricted to distribution solely by government-held churches. The Bible cannot be obtained through public channels, such as bookstores. Moreover, only one printing company—the Jiangsu Amity Printing Company—is authorized to print the Bible, and the total number of Bibles printed each year is also severely restricted. Since 1987, the Episcopal Church of America has donated the royalties, paper and printing machines necessary for making the Bible affordable for Chinese citizens. The standard Bible is less than $1 and is lightweight with excellent quality paper, printing, and binding.

The proclamation which banned the online sale of Bibles gave no indication of the reason behind this restrictive measure against the distribution of the Bible. Some Chinese web users speculate that it is part of the movement intending to incorporate Chinese characteristics into Christianity. The tightened restriction of the Bible distribution, some suspect, is to provide room for the government to “fix” the current translation of the Bible, the Chinese Union Version translated in 1919, in order to incorporate traditional Chinese cultural and socialist core values into the Bible.

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