Christian author questions Murdoch's ties to Bible publisher amid ethics storm
July 22nd, 2011
10:46 AM ET

Christian author questions Murdoch's ties to Bible publisher amid ethics storm

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN)—It just so happens that Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., which is weathering a storm of criticism around newspaper ethics, also owns the rights to the world's best-selling English Bible, the New International Version.

Zondervan, a U.S.-based Christian publishing house that’s part of the News Corp. empire, has 300 million copies of the popular Good Book translation and is also home to some of the biggest names in Christian publishing, including megachurch pastor Rick Warren.

The phone hacking scandal has become a sticky wicket for at least one Zondervan author, who says Murdoch's ownership could create an "ethical dilemma."

Shane Claiborne, Zondervan author, Philadelphia-based Christian activist and occasional CNN Belief Blog contributor, recently told a Christian blogger:

"The current issues . . . in England raise all kinds of ethical questions and I would hope that a company whose mission is explicitly Christian, as Zondervan’s is, would take the opportunity to bear witness and to speak into the culture which is so terribly fallen.”

Other Zondervan authors have apparently stayed mum on this issue.

Claiborn’s comments came in an interview with Will Braun, who blogs for Geez, a magazine he co-founded “for the over-churched and out-churched.”

"For those us of who care about the Christian scriptures, what are we to make of this mix of billionaire media tycoonery, allegations of phone hacking and bribery, and the Holy Word of God?” Braun wrote. “What are we to make of the fact that every time we buy a Zondervan product we contribute to Murdoch’s mogul-dom, which includes a personal fortune that Forbes pegged at $6.3 billion last year."

Braun makes no bones about his dislike for News Corp. "Perhaps I overstate the link between News of the World and Zondervan,” he wrote. “It’s just that I believe there should be absolutely no link at all. Bald greed has no place in Bible publishing."

Braun's piece is getting a lot of attention after it made the rounds on popular blogs this week and getting picked up by USA Today and the New York Observer.

Zondervan spokeswoman Tara Powers reacted to questions about Murdhoch’s involvement with the publisher in a Friday statement to CNN:

“Throughout our 80-year history as a leading Christian publisher, Zondervan has always operated with autonomy, editorial independence, and the freedom to fulfill our mission to meet the needs of people with resources that glorify Jesus Christ and promote Biblical principles.”

She added that Murdoch is not involved in the marketing of Bible: “As CEO of News Corp, Mr. Murdoch is not involved in the day-to-day business operations of Zondervan.”

That assertion was backed up by Lyn Cryderman, a former Zondervan publisher.

"In my role as publisher of the book group I do not recall anything that could even be remotely considered 'involvement in day to day operations' by Rupert Murdoch," he said. Cryderman was Vice President and Publisher at Zondervan from 2004-2007.

Zondervan operates under the banner of HarperCollins, a News Corp. company, which acquired the Christian publisher in 1988.

Zondervan is also the go to publishing house for many popular Christian authors, especially on the evangelical side.

In addition to the NIV Bible, it published 200 other Christian themed books a year from authors like Warren, Claiborne, C.S. Lewis, Lee Strobel, Karen Kingsbury and Rob Bell.

Zondervan took a principled stand earlier this year when it declined to publish Bell's latest book, “Love Wins.” The Grand Rapids pastor had published several other books with Zondervan, selling over a million books.

When Bell wrote "Love Wins," which led to a firestorm of controversy, Zondervan passed, saying the work did not meet their editorial mission. HarperOne, another News Corp. property, scooped up the book, which debuted at #3 on the New York Times Best Seller list.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Bible • Books • Christianity

soundoff (334 Responses)
  1. Ron

    Just came across this article. I see no mention that Rupert Murdoch also owns Harper Collins publishing. They publish The Satanic Bible by Anton LaVey. Old Rupert has got his grubby paws in everything.


    October 21, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
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    April 12, 2012 at 9:31 am |
  3. AvdBerg

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    July 29, 2011 at 6:51 pm |
    • AvdBerg

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      July 29, 2011 at 6:51 pm |
    • .....

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      July 29, 2011 at 8:28 pm |
  4. Beatrice

    The Gospels( the first 4 books in the New Testament Bible) are recommended for the starters in reading the Bible. Honest humans instantly find that it is the living Word of God. A whole new universe awaits you.

    July 24, 2011 at 11:38 pm |
  5. Beatrice

    The problem is people's laziness and refusal to read the Bible. Any variations in authentic scholarly translations of the Bible do not touch any major doctrines or anything important. Variations are there for studying harder of the Biblical text. God knew human nature all along. People, just get a Bible and just start reading and studying! Willful stupidity and lazines are classified as grave sins in the Bible. Don't pay for it in afterlife forever. It's sheer stupidity.

    July 24, 2011 at 11:35 pm |
    • SecularTruther

      I'be read the bible. I'm proud to have read it because I realized the world has gone through the biggest scam in history that has lasted thousands of years. It's sad this day in age people take these stories of exaggerated myths as fact. Though the bible is lacking tons of evidence in the truth department it doesn't mean yaweh, buddah, zeus, xenu the intergallatic emperor, allah or the flying spaghetti monster isn't real and living in an invisible paradise or coming back to life over and over. It's just highly unlikely if you put common sense in the equation. The skeptic's annoited bible website absurdity section might explain to you christians why atheists and agnostics will not convert unless you could destroy our brain cells and make us forget common sense and rational thinking. Also I hope Rupert's empire crumbles, the man pushes garbage onto the media.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:26 am |
    • Beatrice

      @S-T-, don't lie. You never read the Bible and in fact you don't remember a thing.

      July 25, 2011 at 1:07 am |
    • Beatrice

      Atheists have no worthy manifesto or dogma. Abysmal des-pi-cable greed and pleasures are their only share. Atheists are only good at attempting to destroy every good and right and noble thing.

      July 25, 2011 at 1:10 am |
  6. Truth Teller

    by EVERY Word out of the mouth of God.

    The popular but phoney Bible, the NIV is missing 6000 words.Man can't live by bread alone, but

    I don't think God wants you to read that one. ( the god man anti Christ pope loves it though)

    Heres a couple of verses that are deleted. Jn. 5:4 Mat. 17:21 Mat. 23:14 Luke 17:36 , 23: 17 Mat 18: 11 ( a very important verse 18:11} and too many more to mention, I'd be here all night and day. They make the verse numbers real small so they can delete them without you noticing. If you trust an NIV your in trouble

    The other Bibles are just as bad EXCEPT the King James. Thats the one I trust.

    Conclusion: If you gave me the NIV publishing company I would burn them

    July 24, 2011 at 10:20 pm |
  7. SpeakOklahomaCom

    I get it, since this is a public forum I expected to be heard...my post goes POOF...if the children cannot take an opinion they gang up and complain that "he's not playing fair!".

    CNN is getting more and more like FOX every day....

    July 24, 2011 at 9:03 pm |
  8. belikejeanvaljean

    There is a recent controversy regarding the NIV translation published by Zondervan, according to The Christian Examiner. The current version is scheduled to be discontinued and a more "modern" one will take its place, one with more "inclusive" language that is disputed by many scholars and said to change the meaning of the original language in certain places in the Bible. I am sorry that Zondervan will be replacing the popular NIV with a new version, and see no reason for them to do so. I wonder if Rupert Murdoch or some of his people are behind this.

    July 24, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
  9. Beatrice

    It's time Zondervan gets independence and becomes an independent Christian company no matter the loss.

    July 24, 2011 at 5:31 am |
  10. Rainer Braendlein

    I have read the following books of Charles Colson, who was a counselor of former US president Nixon:

    "Born Again", "The Good Life", "The Faith".

    In his books Colson appreciates Bonhoeffer, but also the pope. That doesn't fit together, because Bonhoeffer condemned papacy (Bonhoeffer is a high Christian authority!).

    Seemingly the wicked Murdoch has forced Zondervan to appreciate the pope and Zondervan has forced Colson to do the same. That would be outrageous.

    God may give us new Christian scholars like Bonhoeffer, wise and incorruptible, led by the Holy Spirit.

    Gateway to Christianity: Bonhoeffer's book "The Cost of Discipleship"

    July 23, 2011 at 9:46 am |
    • Beatrice

      Rainer, Bonhoeffer is neither incorrutable or inerrant. Not even the Apostles were except when they were writing the Scripture text under the direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit. All of us contain some errors; Pope does too but his is not fatal like that of cults'; the reason many Evangelical Christians don't reject him. Rainer, keep studying.

      July 24, 2011 at 5:36 am |
  11. OceanLight

    If your business partner goes wrong behind you back, you can't help it. I thought Americans knew it well.

    July 22, 2011 at 11:42 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      The black monkey rides at dawn. Be ready to mount your flying buttresses.

      July 23, 2011 at 12:31 am |
    • OceanLight

      Tom, how are you? Getting some proper education by Christians in CNN belief blog site? I hope you will come to understand authentic Christianity someday.

      July 23, 2011 at 12:43 am |
    • OceanLight

      Tom, I found your writing to me very complex. I usually don't understand. I think you have a knack for a poet. I encourage you to cultivate your talent by reading some books from Zondervan.

      July 23, 2011 at 12:48 am |
    • John Richardson

      Oceanlight writes: "I'm too illiterate to understand you, Tom, which makes it kinda strange that I presume to talk down to you."

      July 23, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
  12. OceanLight

    Zondervan publication is something normal Christians trust. CNN should feature these normal Christian en-ti-ties more.

    July 22, 2011 at 11:40 pm |
    • Spiffy

      What would you consider an abnormal Christian? What do abnormal Christians read?

      July 23, 2011 at 12:55 am |
    • OceanLight

      Abnormal Christians drink beers during the Lent or predict the date of second coming. Abnormal Christians don't read.

      July 23, 2011 at 8:02 am |
    • herbert juarez

      there is on spiffy

      July 23, 2011 at 9:22 am |
    • herbert juarez

      oops No spiffy does not exist

      July 23, 2011 at 9:23 am |
    • Spiffy

      Ok so anyone who is illiterate isn't a Christian. Otherwise your terms for not being Christian seem very easy to obey. Doesn't seem hard at all to be a Christian. Well I guess the hard part is bashing your head in enough time to actually believe something as stupid as God but yeah.

      July 23, 2011 at 11:27 pm |
    • herbert juarez

      nothing is as head bashing hard as trying to believe there is a spiffy
      spiffy does not exist
      even the illiterate know there ain't no such a thing as spiffy

      July 24, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
  13. John Rdra


    David Johnson

    Your discussion is interesting. Yes, God is omnipotent, and he is omniscient, but no where does it mention that he's a thief. According to your supposition, he should be able to convince everyone and know how to do so. However, a man may know exactly how to convince a person to buy a car, and has that ability to convince a person, however, that is all subject to the free thinking will of a person to decide. By assuming that God can convince everyone on the earth, your supposition is based on the thievery of free will by God. The chief tenement that God's love is based on is that ability of humans to decide on their destiny. He will never force them to do so even though he has the power to do so.
    Also, there may be many different kinds of police forces, all across North America, yet there uphold laws that are common to each state. The understanding of the Bible and it's validity cannot be measure through those who choose to interpret it. For example, it would be similar to saying, since we have 9000000(just an assumption) different doctors in North America who disagree on certain scientific points, this invalidates the natural law of science. This unfortunately is ill-founded logic. Please reconsider your worldview.

    July 22, 2011 at 9:11 pm |
    • Joey

      "God is omnipotent, and he is omniscient, but no where does it mention that he's a thief."
      -"Behold! I come like a thief in the night."
      The Biblical God is a homicidal carjacker.

      July 22, 2011 at 9:16 pm |
  14. Ed

    Sadly, Christian authors are also published by Zondervan like Rick Warren. It's hard to know how being affiliated with Murdoch might impact their ministries if at all. It will be interesting to hear them weigh in on the issue

    July 22, 2011 at 9:08 pm |
  15. Richard S Kaiser

    Joshua the Agnostic writes; "I'm sorry but you are the one deceived. You obviously don't compare things your bible says against each other. http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/jim_meritt/bible-contradictions.html" on July 22, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    Who you Blogging to Me or AvdBerg?

    July 22, 2011 at 8:08 pm |
    • Beatrice

      The Bible contains no contradiction. The seeming ones are there to induce more serious studies. There are a lot of gem-like findings when you study difficult passages in the Bible. Only the lazy simpletons miss them all.

      July 24, 2011 at 6:43 am |
  16. AvdBerg

    We have studied the authenticity of the Bible for twenty six years and we can unequivocally state that it is the Word of God as has been revealed to us. It is unfortunate that mankind in its natural state is unable to understand it (1 Cor. 2:14).

    Jesus Christ proclaimed that His true followers would be taught directly by God – Not by man. God is our Teacher.

    The following is an excerpt from the articles “Who is God and who is Satan?” and “Ye Need Not That Any Man Teach You” listed on our website http://www.aworlddeceived.ca
    Isaiah 54:13. And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord.
    Jeremiah 31:34. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother.
    Matthew 16:17. Blessed art thou Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
    John 6:45. And they shall be all taught of God.
    John 14:26. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you in all things.
    John 15:26. But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me.
    Galatians 1:11,12. But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
    2 Tim. 3:16. All scripture is given by inspiration of God.
    1 John 2:27. Ye need not that any man teach you.
    Mankind in his natural state is unable to understand the Bible and unable to receive the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned (1 Cor. 2:14).

    There is a natural body and a spiritual body (1 Cor. 15:44). The only thing that separates the Natural body from the Spiritual body is the Baptism of Repentance (Mark 1:4). To repent means: to change spirits and to turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan, whose spirit mankind is of (Luke 9:55), unto God (Acts 26:18). This is not an interpretation. Many people search the Bible for in them they think they have eternal life, but when we bring them the Scriptures they don’t believe us (John 5:38,39). Confused? There is no need to be confused any longer, as we explain the deep hidden mysteries of God on our website.

    So before mankind will be able to understand the Word of God, mankind requires to be converted and transformed by God (not religion) and only then mankind is able to understand the Bible as it is God (John 1:1). As long as mankind (including Rupert Murdoch) is separated from God, there can be 1000 translations of the Bible and someone can own the rights and have 300 million copies stored in a warehouse, the works of Rupert Murdoch and the Publisher Zondervan will be all futile. It is interesting to note that Zondervan publishes Books for all the false prophets like Warren, Claiborne, C.S. Lewis, Lee Strobel, Karen Kingsbury and Rob Bell. For a better understanding about the False Prophets in this present world, we invite you to read the article False Apostles and False Christs listed on our website.

    For a better understanding of the recent revelations of phone-hacking and the challenges the media, as the voice of the world for the last hundred years is facing, we invite you to read the article “Influence of the Media” on our website. The challenges Rupert Murdoch is facing are no coincidence. We are living in a changing world and at a time of God’s judgment. The media most certainly will not be able to evade it.

    All of the other pages and articles on our website http://www.aworlddeceived.ca explain how this whole world has been deceived as confirmed by the Word of God in Revelation 12:9. The Bible is true in all things and is the discerner of every thought and the intent of the heart (Hebrews 5:12).

    July 22, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
    • Richard S Kaiser

      AvBerg My Friend,

      Is it not written In The Bibles of Christendom that Jesus Himself did say; "This World is NOT Of The Kingdom of GOD For If It Were,,,,,,,,,,?

      Our World Has Yes, Become Enthralled To Making The Biblical Theosophic Entanglements come To Fruition BUT; When The Virtuosos of Globalists In Today's Age Unite as is Prophecied; Will we ALL be Ready for a Worldly Transition on the Scales of Globular Dynamisms?

      July 22, 2011 at 7:12 pm |
    • Joshua the Agnostic

      I'm sorry but you are the one deceived. You obviously don't compare things your bible says against each other.


      July 22, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
    • David Johnson


      Christians claim their god is Omnipotent (all powerful), Omniscient (all knowing) and Omnibenevolent (all good).

      1.If god is Omnibenevolent, He would WANT every human to believe in Him.
      The bible says He does:

      2 Peter 3:9
      9The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. King James Version (KJV)

      1 Timothy 2:4
      4Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. King James Version (KJV)

      2. If god is Omniscient, then He would KNOW exactly how to convince anyone and everyone that He exists.

      3. If god is Omnipotent, then He would be ABLE to convince anybody and everybody that He exists.

      Yet, ~ 67% of the world's population are not Christians.

      Therefore, the Christian god is very unlikely to exist.

      If the Christian god exists, and He is all knowing and all powerful and all good, why didn't He provide a bible that could not be misinterpreted? That everyone's comprehension of His wants would be the same?

      Christians believe god's purpose in creating the Bible is to guide human beings towards a knowledge of God, and to help them lead moral lives, Christians must be certain of the meaning of the Bible.

      ambiguity – a word or expression that can be understood in two or more possible ways : an ambiguous word or expression.

      "There are in excess of 1,000 Christian faith groups in North America. They teach diverse beliefs about the nature of Jesus, God, the second coming, Heaven, Hell, the rapture, criteria for salvation, speaking in tongues, the atonement, what happens to persons after death, and dozens of other topics.

      On social controversies, faith groups teach a variety of conflicting beliefs about abortion access, equal rights for ho_mo$exuals and bi$exuals, who should be eligible for marriage, the death penalty, physician assisted suicide, human $exuality topics, origins of the universe, and dozens of other topics.

      The groups all base their theological teachings on the Bible. Generally speaking, the theologians in each of these faith groups are sincere, intelligent, devout, thoughtful and careful in their interpretation of the Bible. But, they come to mutually exclusive conclusions about what it teaches. Further, most are absolutely certain that their particular interpretations are correct, and that the many hundreds of faith groups which teach opposing beliefs are in error." Source: Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance

      If the bible is ambiguous, then it cannot be said to be inerrant.

      The Christian god is very unlikely to exist.


      July 22, 2011 at 8:46 pm |
    • ...

      plz click on the report abuse button for the above, it's just copy-paste

      July 22, 2011 at 8:51 pm |
    • nikolena

      Why does no one ever notice the irony that the proof that people give that the bible is true are quotes from the bible? The circular illogic is mind-numbing.

      July 23, 2011 at 7:21 pm |
  17. frank

    Dingos took my Bible!!!

    July 22, 2011 at 6:02 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.