President Trump is exempting Bibles from upcoming tariff increases on Chinese goods after book publishers warned against a possible "Bible tax."
A 10 percent hike on $300 billion worth of other Chinese goods will go into effect for some items on Sep. 1 and another set on Dec. 15, according to a statement by the United States Trade Representative made Tuesday.
“Bibles and other religious literature are among the items removed from the tariff list and will not face additional tariffs of 10 percent,” USTR told Christianity Today.
Christian publishers, who report that more than 75 percent of Bibles are printed in China due to the specialized printing technology and formatting, celebrated Tuesday's announcement from the office of U.S. Trade Ambassador Robert E. Lighthizer.
"Whatever one thinks about trade policy, the Bible should never have been a subject of this sort of taxation," Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), said in a statement.
Ben Mandrell, president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources, echoed Moore's claims, adding that there has been "great concern among the Christian publishing community" since Trump's trade dispute with China began.
Mandrell said the exemption "has given us hope that the administration has heard our concern. Nevertheless, I am troubled that the Word of God would ever be taken hostage in an international trade dispute."
In June, HarperCollins Publishers CEO and president Mark Schoenwald called it a "Bible tax" on consumer and religious organizations during a seven-day hearing at the U.S. International Trade Commission.