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. george in texas

    the heavenly father of jesus – aka one true god, or one true living god – who supposedly is orbiting around the earth, and clearly is very tired, specially of christians, specially evangelicals, has been declared a hoax by hubble telscope, reputedly the best means ever available to mankind to verify and prove sky matters.. the dead sea scroll reveal, as the renowned scholars inform, that jesus was a hoax too. and somebody is sitting on 300 million copies of hellucinations?

    July 22, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
    • JohnA

      This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
      For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,

      Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,

      Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;

      Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

      For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts,

      Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth

      These speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves.
      These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men's persons in admiration because of advantage.
      But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ;
      How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.
      These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit.

      July 22, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
  2. Ice

    Business and religion are incompatible. But, since time immemorial, they make religion as a business. After all, religion is the most profitable business and tax free at that. War is only second in the name of religion. The corruption and evil of men, always making a spin of everything .

    July 22, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
  3. Christine

    For Sean- who has ignored a vast group of Christian thinkers– quote "We are all well aware Christians are not big logic fans. But surely even you can see the contradiction in your own statement."

    Perhaps you forgot that some of the greatest logical thinkers in all time are Christians- take a look at Rene' Descartes as an example:

    July 22, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
  4. frank

    Hasn't this revolting farce gone on long enough?
    Bring back the Colosseum!!!

    July 22, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
  5. JohnA

    PS... God says to avoid vain strife and arguing. What I think is not so important. Neither are are your thoughts, but it is important what God thinks. Life is good, because God is good.

    July 22, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
  6. redeemed

    This whole thing is about FAITH and the Supernatural.You cant even understand w/out Gods Holy Spirit,you will never get it w/out faith,but God loves you and wants you to seek him.

    July 22, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
    • Nonimus

      And yet you keep trying to explain it!?!? Why proselytize if the holy spirit needs to be there first. What's the point?

      July 22, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
    • Sal Manilla

      He must have email in this day and age since by all means he evented everything. Pass his email address on and we'll see if he emails anyone back? I hope it doesn't end up in my junkmail folder........Faith or spectacular insecurities and imagination? If all is so wonderful in the so called "after life"? Why are you all so desparate to stay alive? What are you afraid of? Maybe that you're wrong?

      July 22, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
  7. JohnA

    I hope Murdoch enjoys the rest of his days and wealth. I also hope he asks God into his life.. Real life begins with a relationship with God the Creator through Jesus the Christ, and the Holy Spirit who indwells all who are in Christ and Christ in them. What profit is it if you gain the whole world but lose your soul? Only Jesus gives grace (unmerited favor), peace (He is the Prince of Peace), mercy ( what everyone needs), joy, and love. If one tries to keep his life, he will lose it, but if he loses it for Christ's sake, He will find it. The blessings of the Lord makes one rich, and He adds no sorrow. I was once an atheist, but Jesus came to make me free, and eternal life in Heaven is icing on the cake. The man needs prayer and for the eyes of his understanding to be opened along with hearing ears to hear what the Lord is saying. The way of the transgressor is hard, but the gift of God is eternal life. The just shall live by faith, and faith works by love for God is love.

    July 22, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
    • Christine

      Awesome JohnA!

      you know both sides- those who mock the idea of a powerful and merciful god and those who have come to accept the gift of forgiveness.

      July 22, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
  8. redeemed

    You people dont understand. The Spirit(HOLY SPIRIT) beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God.
    we believers have unmistakable proof called the holy Spirit,that lets us know we are Gods kids.Rom.8:16
    because the carnal mind is enmity against God,for it is not subject to the law of God, NEITHER INDEED CAN BE! You were not chosen to receive Gods Holy Spirit because of unbelife! Ch.8:7
    If any man have not the spirit of Christ,he is none of His. 8:9

    July 22, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
    • Free

      So, basically, you have an ancient book that tells you all this stuff and you choose to believe that what it says is true, right? Hardly 'unmistakable proof' by any measure. Sorry!

      July 23, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
  9. GAW

    @ BTW The ONE true GOD I assume that by using the tag The ONE true GOD that you don't claim to be the The ONE true GOD. Most tags are meant to self identify who they are. Me thinks that you must be new to this.

    July 22, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
  10. Brian

    Here we go, another religious phony.

    July 22, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
  11. Copyright the Ten Commandments?

    Rupert Moloch hacking God's iPhone?

    Well, this should prove interesting.

    July 22, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
    • Michael

      ...and what about Joe Smith and Moroni's "inbisible" gold tablets? Where are they, rupert?

      July 22, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
  12. Sal Manilla

    Rupert Murdoch is RICHARD NIXON on steroids with a ton of money! He's a pathological liar and a crook.He probably wears pink bikini underwear with lil bows on each side. He's only tough when he stands on his money and it appears he maybe getting shorter in the months to come...........

    July 22, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
  13. The ONE true GOD

    @ no god

    I speak of the EGO which keeps you from surrender to God. Your tiny brain is in the way of what can only be discovered at the heart. Too much logic, not enough trust and faith in your own Creator for Him to show you what's really REAL

    July 22, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
    • MortyC

      Too much logic? Yeah, let's stop being "logical" and get with the "magical."

      July 22, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
    • Sean

      @The one true ‘god’.

      We are all well aware Christians are not big logic fans. But surely even you can see the contradiction in your own statement.

      July 22, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
    • gnodges

      riiiight....tiny brains with too much logic. LOL....

      July 22, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
    • The ONE true GOD

      wow...you just really really really DONT GET IT...you over-analyze everything and screw yourself out of life...just... wow

      July 22, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
    • gnodges

      You must be joking!!! I'm the one who is free and enjoying this life to the fullest, and you are the one in a prison of ideas.

      July 22, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
    • Bob

      The Biblical god is a myth just as Hercules is a myh. It should be taught as a myth alongside Greek mythology. There should be college courses called jewish and christian mythology.

      July 22, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
    • Sean

      @The one true ‘god’.

      ...”you over-analyze everything”

      Your posts are helping my argument more than your own.

      July 22, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
    • idontknowandneitherdoyou

      ....my sides hurt...weeping...too much laughter.....finest contradiction-as-fact post...ever.

      July 22, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
  14. Mr. T. Bag

    ...Murdoch did not influence us, well other than demanding that an 11th Commandment be inserted into the Bible:

    "Thou shall regard FOX News as the Holy Gospel, and worship all Conservative Republicans, yea, for they art the true sons of God, sent to wage a holy war against the infidels. –oh and poor people..."

    –but that's all...

    July 22, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
    • Nookster


      July 22, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
    • The Real Tom Paine

      Yea, and the lamestream media did smite Rupert with the truth, and he did fall, and verily, he fell screaming, and took O'Reilly and Hannity with him, and they smote the side of the building as they were led away to the Big House. And Anne Coulter did moan, and gnash her teeth, before sprouting wings, and spewing fire and brimstone, revealed herself to be Sarah Palin's cousin and sister.

      July 22, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
    • As I went out one morning, to breathe the air around Tom Paine...

      "The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil...say, that is one tasty burger. Kahuna, you say?"

      July 22, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
  15. The ONE true GOD

    No Doc, throughout all history it has been proven again and again there is only ONE TRUE GOD. The rest are merely entertaining spirits or their own imaginations. And I don't "feel" like it's real in my heart. I know because there is someone called the HOLY SPIRIT who you know NOTHING about because of your refusal to seek God...at all...therefore you mock what you don't understand. No one here has gone off on a limb to follow Jesus...You can best believe my proof is with me daily...if you only knew!!

    July 22, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
    • Sean

      Oooh thank the heavens finally someone with proof his god is real. Please.. share this with us so we can put this debate to rest of great and wise one!

      July 22, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
    • The ONE true GOD

      Nope, I'm out. Good night....Lord, I pray you rebuke each and every one of these who have blasphemed your name and mocked your people, Thank you, we love and praise your truth in word...Amen

      July 22, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
    • gnodges

      Have you ever considered that it may be YOU who has the overactive imagination? Na, probably not....if YOU believe it, then it MUST be the truth, and anyone who doesn't believe what you do, well, they just don't get it, right?

      July 22, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
    • Sean

      @The one true ‘god’.

      So this proof you have.. it’s a secret. Hmm…. Convenient.

      July 22, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
  16. buckup

    Vladimir Lenin's work continues through his spiritual son.
    marx,lenin, murdoch, selling bibles for profit, how ironic.

    July 22, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
  17. Mike Hill

    "Bald greed has no place in Bible publishing." Why not, authors sell works of fiction to make money everyday.

    July 22, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
  18. The ONE true GOD


    July 22, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
    • John

      Better follow the world than a false religion that is full of hate, bigotry and misguides the populace. Say goodbye to freedom cause America is becoming a Theocracy – Remember if you don't love Jesus we can fix that at interment christian camp.

      July 22, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
    • Sean

      @The one true ‘god’.

      You’re correct in stating those are theories. They are also taught as such. They also have supporting evidence to come to such conclusions. Evidence that you can see smell and touch…we call this ‘real’. If you have some real evidence to the contrary.. please.. I’m waiting to be converted. Just say the word

      July 22, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
    • GAW

      This gives me an idea. I want to publish the CAPS LOCK Bible. All the words of Jesus will be in ALL CAPS and not in red as in older versions.

      July 22, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
  19. Dr. O. J. Graham

    America Today

    Invisible workers on both sides
    Choose the hills or tides
    Hunker down for the reception of deception.
    So bizarre; so hard to believe,
    Much less understand the thief,
    The old serpent-liar.
    All over the media
    Transcends the Lyre
    Of ancient media, Tyre.

    Night grows close,
    Another day goes.
    Thunderstorms and tornadoes
    Not the usual even in Toronto.
    Yet, Global warming near alarming
    Still, the hegemonic charming.
    How to still the tide of disorder
    For the New World Order.

    O. J. Graham

    July 22, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
  20. The ONE true GOD

    Wow, most of you don't know who you are, where you're from, where you're going, or why you're here...Amazing.

    July 22, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
    • News Flash

      And one of us who assumes they speak for, or even begin to know what their name implies, is unutterably arrogant.

      July 22, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
    • Lycidas

      All you Zombies

      July 22, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
    • The ONE true GOD

      Not arrogant, confident in what I know because the scriptures have never let us down, and what is inside of me is undeniable. Your stubborn doubt keeps you from knowing what every believer experiences, and until you let go of that ego you will remain trapped in the lie –period

      July 22, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
    • Nookster

      It is amazing that even though most children are programmed from birth to believe in invisable beings some grow up to have the itellecual capacity to realize its all a hoax.

      July 22, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Which God is that again?
      Let me guess – your God Jehovah is the 1 True God and all the others are made up.
      You can feel it in your heart and your holy book affirms it.
      The fact that every culture throughout all of human history has believed their myths just as devoutly as you adhere to yours doesn't even register in your brain.
      You've managed to pick The Truth out of infinite options, using faith alone as your guide.
      If only the rest of the human race would suspend their critical thinking, they'd get the same warm fuzzies you get from unquestioning, obsequious faith.

      July 22, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
    • Lycidas

      @Nookster-"It is amazing that even though most children are programmed from birth to believe in invisable beings some grow up to have the itellecual capacity to realize its all a hoax."

      Hmmm, you say a child comes by it naturally but then implies it's planned. I think you might be a wee bit confused.

      July 22, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
    • Lycidas

      @Doc- "The fact that every culture throughout all of human history..."

      Time for a little thought experiment. It's twenty years from now. Atheism has been wiped out but save one person...you. 99.99999999% of all humanity believes in God and exactly how the Bible says things are. You are alone and a minority of one. You alone believe there is no God.
      Are you wrong?

      July 22, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
    • No God

      You speak of egos. What is this Ego? Should i hold your opinion of what an ego is to be true. Does the scripture speak of this Ego?

      July 22, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
    • Nookster

      @Lycidas, Actually I see religious/cult programming from birth as a severe form of child abuse. Just like with any cult it sometimes takes years of guilt to overcome that programming once adulthood is reached. However everyday larger percentages of the population are overcoming their fear of death and accept their fate for what it is. Just here on earth, then thats it.

      July 22, 2011 at 4:45 pm |
    • Lycidas

      One problem with the "programming" theory with religion is that it doesn't exist by itself. A child cannot be raised without "programming" of some kind. The views (for good or ill) of the parents and society are a apart of a child's devlopment. One cannot raise a child in a static bubble. Even current concepts of science are in part ppl's opinions that can be put onto a child and programmed into them.

      Also, higher % does not make something more or less true.

      July 22, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
    • gnodges

      all I can say is.....thank god for athiests.

      July 22, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
    • Sean


      Problem with your argument there bud.

      1. Nook did not say children come by it naturally. He in fact said they are programmed. You know just like the Santa myth. Only you forgot to tell them it’s a myth when they were old enough to understand.

      2. Again. you imply Nook said something he didn’t. There is a difference between raising a child in a static bubble and programming them a specific set of improbable beliefs. See the example above.

      Sadly you don’t realize.. you are a victim sir. Had you been born in a country where another religion was the popular, you would believe emphatically in the THAT religion.

      July 22, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
    • Lycidas

      1. You are right that he did not say that they came by it naturally. That was a goof on my part. However, your santa straw man doesn't hold water. Anything else you would like to build up and knock down as if it is co.mparable to Christianity?

      2. Again...look above at your straw man. Also..that which is improbably to you is not to others.

      I do realize a lot more than you on this. I am not a "victim" since one of my parents were atheist and the other non-religious. You sir are a victum of your own ignorance.
      Ah...another guess from you without facts or knowledge. You don't know what would have happened if I or you or anyone was born in another country. Oddly the Torah mentions a man that was raised in a country that had a certain religious system but somehow followed another. That goes against what you just said doesn't it? Though I doubt you would count the info because of the source. The closed minded tend to hide from that which challenges their beliefs. Oh..and the man? Abram.

      July 22, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
    • Free

      If you take a situation where a single person discovers something new, like Einstein with his theory of general relativity, that the rest of the world's population is still ignorant of then yes; a single individual may still be 'right' where everyone else is sadly mistaken. Even if 100% of the world's believed in God that still doesn't mean that God is, actually, real. Not all the wishes of a thousand generations, but only evidence can confirm it.

      July 22, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
    • Lycidas

      @Free- But the topic in question is not new...it's atheism.

      The reason why I brought up the % angle was the way Doc and Nook was implying that higher % somehow makes a thing more correct.
      The question could be reversed...if the whole world was 99.999999% atheist and there was only one Christian in existence. Is he wrong? As you said, a single individual may still be right. Having more ppl agreeing with you does not make that opinion more or even less correct or true.

      July 22, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
    • Anti Christian Taliban


      @Free- But the topic in question is not new...it's atheism.

      The reason why I brought up the % angle was the way Doc and Nook was implying that higher % somehow makes a thing more correct.
      The question could be reversed...if the whole world was 99.999999% atheist and there was only one Christian in existence. Is he wrong? As you said, a single individual may still be right. Having more ppl agreeing with you does not make that opinion more or even less correct or true.

      That is an interesting thought. 99.9% atheist in the world.....hmmm As friction grows and populations expand... can man survive long enough to shift from most believing in myths to very few? Since I have very little faith in man to begin with....unlikely....we are stuck repeating the cycle like a bad song skipping over and over. Man will fall then rise again with ignorance/fear to guide him.

      July 22, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Thank you ACT for your words of...whatever they were. Def not wisdom.

      July 22, 2011 at 6:31 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      You are correct in that truth is not determined by consensus.
      If the world became 99.99% Christian and I were the last atheist, I'd have to be very careful about what I said and did.
      When the natives rubbed blue mud in their belly buttons, I'd be doing it too in order to avoid being lynched!
      There is a possibility, albeit a remote one, that one of the thousands of sects of Christianity has actually found the answers to Life, The Universe and Everything – but it is the same vanishingly small, statistically insignificant chance that all the other potential answers have.

      July 22, 2011 at 8:15 pm |
    • fred

      anti christian taliban
      You said: "can man survive long enough to shift from most believing in myths to very few". God always brings a remnant through to continue the truth. But, like a good taliban you a time when there are few Christians. Problem with this dream is that spells the end times when no more souls can possibly be saved. Then Jesus will come in a cloud to collect his redeemed. Interestingly enough Iran is waiting and looking forward to this too. They await the 13th Imam at which time the world draws to an end and zion is cast into the furnace. Sweet dreams

      July 22, 2011 at 8:26 pm |
    • Lycidas

      "but it is the same vanishingly small, statistically insignificant chance that all the other potential answers have."

      Perhaps 42%

      July 22, 2011 at 8:32 pm |
    • Lycidas

      "When the natives rubbed blue mud in their belly buttons, I'd be doing it too in order to avoid being lynched!"

      I was thinking the same thing if atheist took over. Though it was blue mud on their as.ses since that's what they tend to talk out of.

      July 22, 2011 at 8:34 pm |
    • Free

      "iif the whole world was 99.999999% atheist and there was only one Christian in existence. Is he wrong?"
      Well, he wouldn't be proven right either, agreed? All of these other people would be atheists because there isn't sufficient evidence to convince them that a god exists, right? 99.999999% may all agree that there is no reason to believe in an actual god, but there may by that one person who believes that there is reason.

      The number of Zoroastrians worldwide is estimated at about 200,000, for example, and one imagines that they have reasons to base their beliefs upon, but do you consider it very likely that Ahura Mazda actually exists as a god? Neither do we, and for many of the same reasons. While technically not impossible it's just too highly unlikely to be taken as a serious possibility.

      Einstein in my analogy was at least able to demonstrate to the rest of the world his new discovery so that all could see it was true. Could your Christian do the same, or would he still be hoping to convince people to have faith in his claim despite the lack of evidence? Should evidence of an actual god materialize, evidence that was unknown to us before, wouldn't that be a case of your lone believer ending up being correct more out of dumb luck than intelligence?

      July 23, 2011 at 1:04 am |
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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.