Bibles are exempt from President Trump’s upcoming tariff increases on Chinese goods following book publishers’ warnings of a “Bible tax.”
A statement by the United States Trade Representative (USTR) on Tuesday said, “Certain products are being removed from the tariff list based on health, safety, national security and other factors and will not face additional tariffs of 10 percent.”
“For the past several months, there has been great concern among the Christian publishing community that our important work would be threatened by proposed tariff schedules,” said Ben Mandrell, president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. “Today’s announcement by [USTR] has given us hope that the administration has heard our concern.”
However, Mandrell said he is troubled that the Bible would ever be considered part of a trade dispute.
“These past months have strengthened our resolve to get Bibles to the people who need them. Our mandate is built on obedience to Christ, regardless of any policy proposal from Washington DC,” he concluded.
Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) echoed Mandrell’s statements.
“Whatever one thinks about trade policy, the Bible should never have been a subject of this sort of taxation,” Moore said. “As Christians, we believe the Bible is the Word of God, and is thus central to our lives and mission.”
According to a Fox News report, HarperCollins Publishers CEO Mark Schoenwald referred to the tariffs as a “Bible tax” on religious organizations in June.
The report said more than 75 percent of Bibles are printed in China using specialized technology and formatting.
However, rosaries and other religious items imported from China will not be removed from the list and will experience a ten percent tax beginning on September 1, according to reports.
Trump said Tuesday that he would delay until December 15 the ten percent tariff on cellphones, laptops, and other additional goods in case the duty has an effect on consumer spending during the Christmas season.