One quarter of our Bibles now printed by Chinese Bible monopoly...

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"And now we come to a topic not mentioned on our schedule," smiles He, "condoms." Some nervous shuffling and coughing ensues. It slowly emerges that there are some in the group who have heard of condoms, but never seen one. Although He and his colleague Shao En have gone to lengths to approach the topic in a careful and sensitive way (this being day two of the workshop), some of the women are palpably embarrassed. In general, however, women prove to be the more daring of participants over these two days, learning fast and volunteering answers.

-Katrin Fielder reporting on her work for Amity Foundation; (emphasis not in original)

(By Craig French) Would you believe the above workshop was an outreach program provided by a Christian organization? The setting is China. Few of the participants own a Bible of their own. The “Christian” organization holding the workshop is Amity Foundation.

Amity Foundation is a not-for-profit non-governmental organization (NGO) that works cooperatively with the Chinese government providing sex education geared especially toward stopping the spread of AIDS. Besides condom instruction, they promote green initiatives, seek more equitable income distribution, do earthquake relief, and more.

But Amity does other work, also. It's likely they printed your Bible...

Back in 1987, Amity Foundation teamed up with the United Bible Societies in a joint-venture to publish God’s Word giving birth to Amity Printing Company which also does business as Amity Press. If you click on the above link, you’ll see a quote from former Anglican Bishop K.H. Ting displayed quite prominently. Back in 1956, Ting delcared that the Chinese people have come to regard Communist rule as "an act of God and a demonstration of His love" (Time). Ting also claims there is no persecution of Christians going on in China.

Currently, Amity is the only printer authorized by the Chinese government to print Bibles in China. The main way of distributing these Bibles is through the approved State church: the Three-Self Patriotic Church. I’ve read conflicting reports about what’s involved with purchasing a Bible. Some say the buyer must register with the State and be instantly marked by a hostile government as being a Bible-reading Christian. Others say it is no longer necessary to present identification when buying a Bible from a government authorized bookseller.

The fact is that Amity cannot produce enough Bibles to meet the demand. But even if they could, most Chinese believers don’t have the money needed to travel thousands of miles to a metropolitan area to buy a Bible. Designating one believer to travel and buy enough Bibles isn’t safe, either. A believer may buy one or two Bibles with relative security, but any more than that and the government cracks down. Some believers try printing their own Bibles to distribute within the Underground Church, but they risk persecution and prison.

So why would the United Bible Societies join forces with Amity Foundation to print Bibles in China in cooperation with the Chinese government? It is likely that it was in the hopes of smoothing relations with China and getting the Scriptures into the hands of believers there. We have seen development there, but it is difficult to say whether Amity is the means to such an end.

Arguably, the creation of Amity Printing has benefitted the Chinese government most. They welcomed such a joint venture because it lends a façade of legitimacy to their claims of religious liberty and deflects further scrutiny. All they have to say is, “Look. Not only is there a Bible printer in China, but a Bible printer with Western Christianity’s stamp of approval on it via the United Bible Societies”.

Amity boasts large productions of Bibles with a major distribution in China (80% of their production). Their claims of Chinese distribution are suspect given the outlets for their government-approved Bibles are through the Three-Self Church located only in metropolitan areas. Millions upon millions of Chinese are unable to travel the thousands of miles to reach one of these outlets. They are too poor, and besides, they don’t want to arouse suspicion with the government. Even if we were to grant that Amity distributes 80% of their Bibles, it still isn’t enough to meet the need of Chinese Christians.

So if Amity is printing millions and millions of Bible (and they are, they are currently capable of printing one million Bibles per month), then where’s the money coming from?

Answer: One in four Bibles worldwide are produced by Amity Printing. China is one of the biggest exporters of copies of God’s Word.

Some of evangelicals’ favorite translations are printed in Amity’s facilities and sold at bargain prices.

Our Bible publishers are using our dollars to buy Bibles that fund a company that facilitates a hostile government’s control of Bible distribution among its population, and that's only the beginning of the religious oppression in China.

Amity Foundation is the parent company of Amity Printing Company, and both employ many nationalities including Chinese, Americans, Australians, and Germans. Katrin Fielder, for instance, is a German Christian, but her message does not conflict with the message of the communists. But what of the message of the Word of God? Is there no final conflict between Christ, Marxism, and safe-sex?

Upon completing the sex workshop referenced above, Ms. Fielder retired to her hotel where she received a call from a woman offering her a massage. As Ms. Fielder reported it:

Checking back into my hotel in Kunming next to the Green Lake tourist hot spot, I get a call to my room, which is interrupted when the caller hears a female voice answering the phone. Presumably this was only the usual offer for "massage". I just hope the unknown girl out there has also got the message.

What message?

The condom message. That’s what Amity was out there to do. They were not there to spread the Gospel. They hadn't come to call souls to repentance. They hadn't even come to rescue a few sex slaves from the clutches of evil men.

Rather, their mission was telling people to use a condom. Ms. Fielding reports Amity’s mission:

We are not exclusive, we are an inclusive community of Christians and people of other faiths and of no faith which serves all Chinese regardless of their beliefs. Amity serves as a bridge between China's Christians and the wider population, including the government. This all goes back to Jesus himself, who was not afraid to cross religious or social boundaries.

You did catch that, right? Amity is a bridge to Jesus, Christians, the wider population, and did I forget to mention? The government.

The quote above is from an interview of Ms. Fielding conducted by Amity after her time working for Amity who considers her an ally, still. In the same interview Ms. Fielding expresses concern over the the wholesale slaughter of unborn girls that has altered the male/female ratio across China:

Poverty is still very real in most parts of China and is still at the root of many other problems, such as the abortion of girls or environmental degradation.

To undiscerning Evangelicals, ecumenism, condom promotion, and TONS of Bibles being printed all looks good--and nevermind that most of the Bibles are exported to the West.

Back in 2005, Amity's General Secretary, Zhonghui Qiu, spoke in Washington D.C. This was prior to Crossway Publishers (of English Standard Version fame) joined up with Amity to print all the ESV’s distributed during the Olympics. Zhonghui Qiu told his audience:

Last June I visited the United States where I was told that some Americans donated for smuggling Bibles. They did not know we Chinese have legally printed 40 million copies of Bible. I think communication which is important for understanding and world peacemaking should be strengthened.

What was Zhonghui Qiu saying?

He was telling his listeners not to smuggle Bibles into China, thus implying Amity prints enough copies for the Chinese people. But this isn't true. Beyond numbers, though, consider that smuggled Bibles mean Christians reading them cannot be traced. Also that smuggled Bibles would cut into Amity’s market-share. Let's remember that Amity holds a government-sanctioned monopoly on God’s Word.

So how do we judge United Bible Societies' bosom-buddy relationship with the Chinese government and its Amity Foundation and Press?

Bible Society NSW's CEO, Daniel Willis, who serves as a board member of United Bible Society says we shouldn’t smuggle Bibles into China.

And what about us? Did you know that one in four Bibles are printed by Amity Press? Where was your Holman Bible printed? Your ESV? Open your Bible and read the copyright page. Is it printed in China?

For myself, I've decided not to buy Bibles from publishers who have their printing done by Amity.

One source I discovered is the Trinitarian Bible Society. Sadly, they only sell the Authorized Version. I’ve been an NASB guy for about 13 years so this is stepping outside of my comfort zone. But it is the King James' 400 year anniversary. One of the commemorative editions I came across is published by Hendrickson and printed in China (likely by Amity). For about the same price as an Amity-printed hardback, I got the Trinitarian Bible Society’s calfskin Windsor edition.

The quality is very good. Trinitarian Bible Society also sells a metrical version of the Psalms.

Drop Marnie over there an email.

(TB: this article by Craig French)