Presbyterians/Bibles made in a foreign country
Should a person buy a Bible that is made in China or wherever, if they do not know the wages / working conditions of the workers? Should they trust the publisher that outsources to China or wherever to be ethical? Thank you.
Thanks for your concern for that. I think too often Christians don't ask questions about how their actions may affect other people.
I myself was surprised to find that Bibles were being printed in China. I am not an economist, but speaking to some people about it, it seems those companies are in the same boat as every other manufacturer - due to increased regulation and compulsory wage and benefits it is becoming very expensive to produce (and therefore buy) Bibles that are made in the US.
I'm old enough to remember a time when a good, leather-bound Bible cost more than $100 (and that was when wages were much lower!) Having one was the mark of being a "serious Christian." But then I got to thinking, "What about people who simply can't afford $100 Bible?" It seemed a shame that God's Word was relegated to being possessed only by the wealthy.
I know three people who have lived and worked in China within the last ten years, and they tell me is that: 1) wages and conditions there are improving for workers, 2) while it is true that there are situations in which workers live in barracks and work so many hours it leaves them no time for anything else, such situations are temporary and purpose-focused. Many such workers are people who work for a short time in those conditions so as to completely pay for their college tuition and move on to a better life.
I also know that an interesting benefit in God's providence of Bibles being printed in China is that there is greater access to Bibles there, and people are reading them. Back in the Reagan days China would not have even permitted Bibles to be printed because of their concerns that they would be helping to promote an "ideology" that they as a country officially rejected. The fact that Bibles are being printed there shows that something has changed.
I think too that the quality of things will give you an idea of working conditions. It used to be that product coming out of China was considered "cheap junk." That is no longer true (at least not in all cases), and there is a correlation between quality and working conditions, for while you can force a man to work, you cannot force him to work well.
As I understand it, publishing companies, like most other companies, have a choice. They can out-source or close their doors.
The ethical question is an interesting one. Some Christian publishing companies today are publicly traded. That means that they have an obligation to their stock-holders, and what sells is not necessary what is true, or good in God's eyes. In an odd twist, this is the result of the Reformation. Those who were part of the Reform movement in the 15th & 16th centuries did not like the fact that the Catholic Church controlled the printing of the Bible, and sought to change that through commercial means. They've succeeded, but because of man's sinfulness there really are no solutions, just a sea-saw back and forth of benefits and difficulties.
If it bothers your conscience, then by all means you should buy a Bible made in a country that you have relative certainty of conditions, etc. (1 Cor 8, Rom 14). But you must also realize that there is a cost to doing so which you must be willing to incur. A quick perusal at CBD turned up some Bibles that cost more than $500. You probably won't have to pay that, but you will certainly pay more than the common $50 that Bibles printed elsewhere often cost.
Again, Ray, I really appreciate your raising this question. It shows thoughtfulness and a desire to do what is right, and I pray God will guide you in the path you should take.