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Don’t knock Trump’s Bible marketing -- the King James Version is a very American book!

By Rich Lowry on

Of all the objectionable things Donald Trump has ever done, selling a Bible would seem to rank pretty far down the list.

Yet his marketing, along with Lee Greenwood, of a God Bless the U.S.A. Bible for $59.99 has occasioned a couple of news cycles of outrage. The Bible has an American flag cover and accompanying American historical documents, including the Declaration of Independence, as well as the words to Greenwood's iconic patriotic song.

Hawking the Bible like it's a digital trading card or a personalized sneaker -- to name a couple of other products Trump has pushed in his inimitable style -- is tasteless and unpresidential, needless to say.

Dwight Eisenhower didn't market golf balls, and it was notoriously Jimmy Carter's brother -- not the president -- who sold a specially branded beer.

Nor should anyone confuse the handiwork of Thomas Jefferson -- or Lee Greenwood -- with the Word of God.

But the incensed commentary makes it sound as though Trump is the first person to sell an edition of a Bible catering to a niche market. In reality, there's a dizzying array of Bibles in this country for people with different interests, whether it's the law enforcement Bible, busy mom's Bible or outdoorsman's Bible with a camouflage cover and "devotions that tie directly to the sports of hunting, fishing, backpacking or any outdoor activity."

 

The God Bless the U.S.A. Bible was first published in 2021, and already had competition in the American Patriot's Bible from 2009.

The fact is that selling Bibles is a very American venture, and the Bible, particularly the King James Version endorsed by Trump, is a very American book, in fact the American book.

The ship's carpenter on the Mayflower might have brought the first copy of the King James Bible to our shores. The historian of Christianity Mark Noll notes that the Bible was often the only book that families owned.

By around 1800, traveling Bible salesman Parson Weems (famous for his biography of George Washington) was marveling at the hot market: "I tell you, this is the very season and age of the Bible. Bible dictionaries, Bible tales, Bible stories -- Bibles plain or paraphrased, Carey's Bibles, Collins' Bibles, Clarke's Bibles, Kimptor's Bibles, no matter what or whose, all, all will go down, so wide is the crater of public appetite at this time."

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