Journey behind Lee Greenwood’s ‘God Bless the USA Bible’

After years with few updates about Lee Greenwood’s controversial Bible, the project is again resurgent with a recent promotion by former President Donald Trump.

“All Americans need to have a Bible in their home and I have many. It’s my favorite book,” Trump said in a video posted to social media Tuesday, encouraging supporters to purchase the “God Bless The USA Bible.” “Religion is so important and so missing, but it’s going to come back.”

Greenwood — the Nashville area country musician whose hit song “God Bless the USA” inspired the Bible with a similar namesake — has long been allies with Trump and other prominent Republicans, many of whom are featured in promotional material for the “God Bless The USA Bible.” But that reputational clout in conservative circles hasn’t necessarily translated to business success in the past, largely due to a major change in the book’s publishing plan.

Here’s what to know about the Bible project’s journey so far and why it’s significant it’s back in the conservative limelight.

An unordinary Bible, a fiery debate

The “God Bless The USA Bible” received heightened attention since the outset due to its overt political features.

The text includes the U.S. Constitution, Bill of Rights, Declaration of Independence, Pledge of Allegiance, and the lyrics to the chorus to Greenwood’s “God Bless The USA.” Critics saw it as a symbol of Christian nationalism, a right-wing movement that believes the U.S. was founded as a Christian nation.

A petition emerged in 2021 calling Greenwood’s Bible “a toxic mix that will exacerbate the challenges to American evangelicalism.” From there, a broader conversation ensued about the standards by which publishers print Bibles.

Gatekeeping in Bible publishing

Greenwood’s early business partner on the project, a Hermitage-based marketing firm called Elite Source Pro, initially reached a manufacturing agreement with the Nashville-based HarperCollins Christian Publishing to print the “God Bless The USA Bible.”  

As part of that agreement, HarperCollins would publish the book but not sell or endorse it. But then HarperCollins reversed course, a major setback for Greenwood’s Bible.

The reversal by HarperCollins followed a decision by Zondervan — a publishing group under HarperCollins Christian Publishing and an official North American licensor for Bibles printed in the New International Version translation — to pass on the project. HarperCollins said the decision was unrelated to the petition or other public denunciations against Greenwood’s Bible.

The full backstory: Lee Greenwood’s ‘God Bless the USA Bible’ finds new printer after HarperCollins Christian passes

A new translation and mystery publisher

The resurgent “God Bless The USA Bible” featured in Trump’s recent ad is an altered version of the original concept, a modification that likely followed the publishing shake-up.

Greenwood’s Bible is now printed in the King James Version, a different translation from the original pitch to HarperCollins.

Perhaps the biggest mystery is the new publisher. That manufacturer is producing a limited quantity of copies, leading to a delayed four-to-six weeks for a copy to ship.  

It’s also unclear which business partners are still involved in the project. Hugh Kirkman, who led Elite Service Pro, the firm that originally partnered with Greenwood for the project, responded to a request for comment by referring media inquiries to Greenwood’s publicist.

The publicist said Elite Source Pro is not a partner on the project and the Bible has always been printed in the King James Version.

“Several years ago, the Bible was going to be printed with the NIV translation, but something happened with the then licensor and the then potential publisher. As a result, this God Bless The USA Bible has always been printed with the King James Version translation,” publicist Jeremy Westby said in a statement.

Westby did not have the name of the new licensee who is manufacturing the Bible.

Trump’s plug for the “God Bless The USA Bible” recycled language the former president is using to appeal to a conservative Christian base.

“Our founding fathers did a tremendous thing when they built America on Judeo-Christian values,” Trump said in his video on social media. “Now that foundation is under attack perhaps as never before.”

‘Bring back our religion’: Trump vows to support Christians during Nashville speech

Liam Adams covers religion for The Tennessean. Reach him at ladams@tennessean.com or on social media @liamsadams.


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