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. befree

    Christianity is a Egyptian Myth – Horus, Isis, Mary, Jesus, God, Osiris

    July 22, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
  2. Bleen Gloob

    It's time to revoke Murdoch's U.S. citizenship and deport him back to Australia. It's also time to take back all his television stations. This man is destroying our country while making a tidy profit doing so.

    July 22, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
  3. Dr. O. J. Graham

    Does CNN censor these comments?

    July 22, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
    • CalgarySandy

      They have a filter that catches certain words. The post is not posted. There is the "Report abuse" button though I am not sure if it does anything. You can say the most outrageous things that are way over the top of public decency as long as you are careful with your vocabulary. You can see this in the use of weird spelling, use of characters in stead of letters....

      July 22, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
  4. willie

    If you believe what is said in the bible to be factual, you probably believe what fox news and news corp tell you also.

    July 22, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
    • hethathathanear

      willie, I don't believe you are real, you are a fake and someone made you up.

      July 22, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
    • Nookster

      How true

      July 22, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
    • The ONE true GOD

      If you do not believe what the Word of God speaks to us, you have a whole hell of alot to worry about than Fox News. The Word has guided us for thousands of years and now all of a sudden man thinks he knows everything about life and the reason you have a conscience? You have no clue what you speak of and it's just plain scary what you people believe in nowadays, which equals to pretty much NOTHING.

      July 22, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
    • Nookster

      Yeah but Willie can type, I've never seen a god do that.

      July 22, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
    • Oner and truer than you.

      He told me he gave me more truth than you.

      July 22, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
    • Jason K

      Willie, as a believer in Yeshua the savior I have to partly stand along side you because what most of the bible says in many of these new translations is so far removed from the Septuagint and original Hebrew that they are simply not true, and misquoted all the time.

      John 3:16 case in point where the Greek word Kos-mos (world) is almost exclusively attributed to being a reference to everyone in the whole world by most evangelical "christian" circles. However, the Greek word Kos-mos can actually pertain to 7 different groups. There are similar problems with prepositional phrases like "of" and "in" Is it "faith in Jesus Christ" or "faith of Jesus Christ". Many publishers change it to fit their theology. After all if 90% of the publishers see it the same way theologically, it must be right...right? I mean, who speaks ancient Greek or Hebrew anymore.

      July 22, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
    • willie

      Jason K, you are one of the few people who understand. I once went to a bible translater seminar by Wycliffe translators, the oldest corporation in the world. They bragged about translating the book into a language that had only 82 words. Since the bible has over 12,000 words I asked "how can this be done"? His answer, they use the best word available that comes the closest to the PERCEIVED meaning. A shot in the dark.

      July 22, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
  5. jasmith4

    The crumbling of Rupert Murdoch's media empire is a huge boon to mankind worldwide. Imagine: that God-awful propaganda machine that redefines bottom-feeding for conservatives and idiots (same thing) - silenced! All Fox, NY Post, Wall Street Journal, many others internationally - all gone! It couldn't come fast enough: then balance, intelligence and journalism will win. "Fair and balanced"? If it's fair to balance truth/lies, smart/stupid, thoughtful/reactionary, extreme/centrist... Good riddance, Rupe!

    July 22, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
    • CalgarySandy

      It is not anywhere near his empire. He also owns FOX and the Wall Street Journal, among others. Unless the journalists in these places are also hacking and got caught he is still sitting pretty.

      July 22, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
  6. hethathathanear

    Zondervan is a Murdoch puppet, duh! Do you NIV pushers think you can get away with corrupting the Word of God with your pro wickedness perversion publication forever? Shall not God smite thee false interrupters? You are the ultimate FAIL! REPENT. Burn the NIV and its’ offspring.

    July 22, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
  7. OneMaster

    Here's one for ya. Did you know that the Satanic Bible is published under Murdoch's publishing machine? Also, the same one that publishes the NIV? Matthew 6:24 KJV No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
    ...but he's trying!

    July 22, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
    • CalgarySandy

      I doubt it. He knows where the money is.

      July 22, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
  8. Limbaugh is a liberal

    What, you thought the money you spent on buying the Holy Word went to charity or something? Of course not. It went to make the rich even richer. Because that's the American way! And THAT's the Word!

    July 22, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
  9. Blogson

    Although the NIV isn't my favorite version, unless Murdoch has interfered directly by telling Zondervan what to have in that translation there should be no direct problem.

    July 22, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
    • CalgarySandy

      I doubt they own a copy write to the Bible in any version or that anyone anywhere owns the Bible.

      July 22, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
  10. Reality

    Beyond Murdoch and the bible:

    How much money would the following save the US taxpayers ?: a move to true morality!!!

    Saving 1.5 billion lost Muslims:
    There never was and never will be any angels i.e. no Gabriel, no Islam and therefore no more koranic-driven acts of horror and terror

    One trillion dollars over the next several years as the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan will end.

    Eighteen billion dollars/yr to Pakistan will stop.

    Four billion dollars/yr to Egypt will end.

    Saving 2 billion lost Christians including the Mormons:
    There was and never will be any bodily resurrections i.e. No Easter, no Christianity.

    The Mormon empire will now become taxable as will all Christian "religions" and non-profits since there is there is no longer any claim to being a tax-exempt religion.

    Saving 15.5 million Orthodox followers of Judaism:
    Abraham and Moses never existed.

    Four billion dollars/yr to Israel saved.

    All Jewish sects and non-profits will no longer be tax exempt.

    Now all we need to do is convince these 3.5+ billion global and local citizens that they have been conned all these centuries Time for a Twitter and FaceBook campaign!!!!

    July 22, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
    • hethathathanear

      Judgment day will come and you will see. Yes, there is a lot of waste on unthankful and ungodly governments, but when you are dead and it is too late to trust Jesus Christ as your one and only Saviour and the Lake of Fire will be your dwelling for all eternity what will you say then?

      July 22, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
    • CalgarySandy

      You make me feel queasy but, fortunately, you are not in charge and the stupid things you equate to non-believers of your dogma are not going to happen. Do you honestly believe that the US would no longer want oil and no longer interfere in other countries for economic reasons because everyone has become a brain dead clone hopped up on shouting evangelists?

      July 22, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
  11. NoTags

    Most devout Christians will not use the New International Version (NIV) since it leaves out important phrases found in the King James Version (KJV).

    If you want to see what is left out of the NIV just Google "differences in NIV and King James Version".

    July 22, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
    • EricLr

      The New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) is the definitive modern scholarly translation into English. And you don't have to know Elizabethan English to fully understand it either.

      July 22, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
    • hethathathanear

      Modern scholars seldom know the truth, oh they know their version of the Bible, but do they know Jesus Christ the Son of God as their Saviour? Without Him how can you know the Bible and what is truly about? Without the Word of God how can you know the words of God?

      July 22, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
    • willie

      First tell me who wrote all of those original stories and then I'll tell you which version of the tabloid is closest to the perceived truth.

      July 22, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
  12. Autokron

    So Rupert Murdoch hacked into God's voicemails and then wrote the Bible with what he found?!

    July 22, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
  13. LouAz

    " a company whose mission is explicitly Christian, as Zondervan’s is " . . . Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha ! $ $ $ $ $ ! ! !

    July 22, 2011 at 3:17 pm |
  14. Mike Kensington

    There are so many ways to make money nowadays. Are you cashing in on the online markets? The rich are and they won't show you how. WE WILL!!!

    Visit the SimpleStockCash site, and go right to the penny' stock page to see what the rich do not want you to know.

    Take the two minutes to see what we have...it will be well worth it.

    July 22, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
  15. lalose

    So let me get this. If I don't believe in god I am narrow minded and isolated, whereas if i were to give myself over to doctrine and dogma, that would make me expansive.

    July 22, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
    • Peace2All

      Nicely done !



      July 22, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
  16. bachmanntwit

    FACT: Michele Bachmann's husband, Marcus Bachmann, is gay.

    July 22, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
    • lalose

      But he has been cured of his gayness though he reserves the right to chose curtains

      July 22, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
    • Jesus

      Being gay and partaking of ham are both "abominations" to God. I know a few gays who kicked the gay thing, but just can't do without bacon and eggs in the morning. They're condemned according to Bronze Age thinking.

      July 22, 2011 at 3:17 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      This morning I woke up in my comfy, poly-cotton blended pajamas.
      Then I had a meal of bacon, eggs, toast and a tall glass of milk before heading out to till my field full of corn and potatoes.
      I condemned myself to eternal damnation three times over before lunch.

      July 22, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
  17. Jesus

    I use a hotel freebee as a doorstop. I'm not into print stains on my rear.

    July 22, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
  18. Sam

    God is withdrawing Murdoch's right to publish based on ethical differences. When asked to comment God said;

    'I always knew this was coming. I am omniscient but I felt I should give him a chance since I have expressed my support of that free will stuff. While Murdoch has done some unethical things in the past there has always been the aura of plausible deniability but this time I can't use that as an excuse. Murdoch was either unethical or incompetent. That is not an image I want associated with my holy word. I am having enough trouble I the Catholic thing as it is.'

    In a surprising twist the Bible will now be published exclusively by DC Comics.

    July 22, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
    • Kevin

      this is quality right here...well done sir!

      July 22, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
    • Bruce

      And in an unsurprising retwist, Newscorp acquired DC Comics in a stock-swap deal...

      July 22, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
  19. AreYouaBeliever

    Sorry, it send before spell check.

    Isolated mindset.

    July 22, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
  20. AreYouaBeliever


    After you have completed the reading and listen to the message, call the phone number on the web page. They will be very glad to assist you on understanding the Bible, who GOD is, and about Jesus.

    Only those open minded people need to do this.

    If you think you have all the answers, stay in your icesolate closed mindset.

    July 22, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
    • Peace2All

      ..."If you think you have all the answers, stay in your icesolate closed mindset."

      Looks like you apparently think you do..."have all the answers" yes...?



      July 22, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
    • AreYouaBeliever

      I can tell you didn't follow the directions.

      That is the first problem.

      Come back after you did what I suggested.

      July 22, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
    • willie

      God has a phone room? Well then I guess the Hindus were right, god is in India...

      July 22, 2011 at 4:53 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.