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Could Trump's plans lead to US Bible shortage?

by Tola Mbakwe

American book publishers have called Trump's plan for the 25 per cent tariff a "Bible tax".

"We believe the administration was unaware of the potential negative impact these proposed tariffs would have on Bibles and that it never intended to impose 'a Bible tax' on consumers and religious organisations," Mark Schoenwald, chief executive officer of HarperCollins Christian Publishing told a panel of officials at the U.S. International Trade Commission.

Despite China being known for its intense persecution against Christians, Bibles are widely produced in the country due to the special paper, printing technology and skills available there.

Schoenwald explained at the hearing that the tax hike would lead to difficulties printing in a specific format and in turn cause an increase in prices. He said the Christian bookseller market, as well as other Christians resource organisations who cannot afford more expensive Bibles, will be hit hard.

Stan Jantz, head of the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association, said he hopes that Trump will make sure Bible numbers are not impacted if the tax hike goes through.

"I know there's a great interest in the area of religious freedom and access to religious goods on the part of the administration,'' Jantz said in an interview after his testimony.

"We do hope that there would be an openness and strong consideration for Bibles in particular and also for books.''

The tariff on $300 billion of Chinese goods would also include children's books which are especially printed in China because of the waterproof and nontoxic materials required for printing them.

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