Friday, June 27, 2008

Atheist China top Bible producer

Atheist China set to become world's top Bible producer

The factory looks like it could be any plant in this export-driven nation. Hundreds of Chinese workers huddle over loud machines churning out large orders for customers at home and abroad.

But what they're making might surprise you: Bibles.

"We have the same structure as a Motorola or a Philips," said Dean, a New Zealander who has worked with the company in China since 1991. "They make cell phones and TV tubes, and we're producing Bibles."

Because everything at the factory, including the state-of-the-art equipment and the extra-thin printing paper, is donated, Amity has maintained a decided price advantage over potential competitors overseas. Its Bibles sell for as low as $1.35 for a pocket edition and $2.10 for a hardcover.

All proceeds, Dean said, go back to the company's charity arm to fund social programs for the rural poor in China and help local churches. He declined to provide specifics.

About 21 percent of Amity's production is exported to countries in Africa, Europe, Asia and the Americas. Besides translations in exotic languages including Swahili and Slovak, it produces a Braille edition; nine blind workers were hired to supervise production.

Manager Li's crowded office brims with all shapes and sizes of the foreign gospel. He says he is too busy to read the book to which he has devoted 20 years of his life. Instead, he says, he is preoccupied with the quality and variety of the product.

"Here is a Zulu Bible," he said, picking up a bright pink book with a cover that sparkled like broken mirrors. "Some people may want to throw up just looking at this color. Others see it as a potential bestseller, especially if you market it with a pair of pink high-heeled shoes."

$2 for a Bible, when you can get them for free in hotel rooms? But I guess they don't have pink sparkles on them.

Read the entire Houston Chronicle article here

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