Why Trump’s Bible marketing should not be dismissed – The King James Version is a quintessentially American text

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Among all the controversial actions Donald Trump has taken, selling a Bible would appear to be less significant. 

However, the promotion of a God Bless the USA Bible by Trump and Lee Greenwood for $59.99 has generated some outrage in the news.

This Bible features an American flag cover along with American historical documents like the Declaration of Independence, as well as the lyrics to Greenwood’s patriotic song. 

Selling the Bible as if it’s a digital collectible or a personalized sneaker, as Trump has done with other products, is considered tasteless and not presidential. 

Previous presidents like Dwight Eisenhower didn’t market golf balls, and it was even Jimmy Carter’s brother — not the president himself — who sold a special beer. 

It’s important not to confuse the work of Thomas Jefferson — or Lee Greenwood — with the Word of God. 

However, the outrage makes it seem like Trump is the first person to sell a Bible tailored to a specific audience.

In reality, there is a wide variety of Bibles in the country for different interests, such as the law enforcement Bible, busy mom’s Bible, or the outdoorsman’s Bible with a camouflage cover and devotions related to outdoor activities. 

The God Bless the USA Bible was first released in 2021 and faced competition from the American Patriot’s Bible from 2009. 

Selling Bibles is a distinctly American endeavor, and the Bible, especially the King James Version endorsed by Trump, is a quintessentially American book and even considered the American book.

It’s believed that the ship’s carpenter on the Mayflower brought the first copy of the King James Bible to American shores.

Historian of Christianity Mark Noll points out that the Bible was often the only book families owned.

By 1800, the traveling Bible salesman Parson Weems marveled at the high demand for Bibles. “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, Collin’s 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.”

Between 1794 and 1815, 186 novels were published in America compared to 246 editions of the New Testament or the full Bible, according to Noll.

Most Bibles published before 1840 were the King James Version.

During the early 19th century, printer-publishers packaged the King James Version in various formats to meet demand.

Advancements in printing and distribution meant the Bible and related literature played a key role in the development of mass media in America.

The King James Version influenced America’s anti-monarchical sentiments during the revolution.

The Bible’s pervasive influence helped shape American life and was a reason early leaders believed a state religion wasn’t necessary — thanks to the Bible, they saw the potential for Christianity and a virtuous society without a formal Christian state. 

The King James Bible became fundamental to American rhetoric and literature, impacting figures like Martin Luther King and William Faulkner.

Even as its influence waned, we continue to quote or echo it without realizing. 

According to Noll, the widespread availability and impact of the King James Version contributed significantly to American history.

While the God Bless the USA Bible may not add to this tradition, it also doesn’t betray it. 

Twitter: @RichLowry

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