Answer: China prints and publishes the most Bibles in the world.
When you think of the Bible, you think of Christianity. When you think of Christianity and where it’s practiced, which includes reading and studying that bible, you think of countries that range from Mexico to Italy, and from Russia all the way over to the Philippines. According to World Population Review, Christianity is the largest religion in the world with more than 2.3 billion people that practice some form of the religion. This means that about one-third of the world’s total population follows Christianity. Moreover, “in terms of how many Christians reside in a nation, the United States leads the pack with approximately 230 million. Brazil also has a high number of Christians – over 180 million to be exact.” All of these Christian countries consider the Bible the sacred text. So which country is supplying all of these religiously bound pages, and where are all these bibles coming from? Well, according to Christianity Today, chances are high that your favorite Bible was printed in China.
In a day an age where an intense focus is being put on products that are not made in America, it seems out of place to think about the fact that so many bibles are being printed in China. In fact, according to Quartz, “publishers say that if Donald Trump’s proposed tariffs of 25% or “much higher” on an additional $300 billion worth of Chinese goods kicks into effect—which he has threatened to do if Chinese president Xi Jinping refuses to meet at the G20 summit—Bibles will be made much more expensive in the US.” Moreover, “no US vendor would be able to meet the demands of the US market, and a 25% tariff on religious materials could result in a Bible shortage that would cause economic harm throughout the Christian Bookseller market. Ministries, churches, and other religious organizations may also no longer be able to afford bibles.” Needless to say, publishers like HarperCollins Christian Publishing are not only nervous about the tariffs, but they are trying to think about a long-term strategy, should these increased tariffs go into effect.
This isn’t to say that China doesn’t have their own share of residents who practice Christianity, and therefore hypothetically also read and need a bible. According to the Telegraph, some 23 million to 40 million people in China are Christians. At the end of the day, however, that is only 1.7-2.9 percent of the population. What’s interesting, and causes some debate, is that China only has one legal printer of Bibles: Amity Printing Company. According to Christianity Today, the company “published its first Bible in cooperation with the United Bible Societies (UBS) in 1987, 117 million Bibles have followed. More than half of those were printed in the last six years, including 12.4 million in 2013, making China the world’s biggest Bible publisher.” And while there are Chinese citizens who follow the religion, these bibles generally head elsewhere. Roughly seventy-five percent of the Bibles are produced for export. Let’s keep an eye on this number with any impending trade and tariff news.