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As atheist government pledges to promote “Chinese-style Christianity and theology,” changes at JD.com, Taobao, and Dang Dang may revive debate over Bible access.

Last week, Chinese social media users began noticing that they couldn’t find Bibles listed on some of their nation’s most popular e-commerce platforms.

Shoppers who searched the word Bible on retailers such as Taobao, Jingdong, Dang Dang, and Amazon.cn began receiving a “no results” response, reported the South China Morning Post.

Search analytics revealed a significant spike in the keyword Bible on March 30. But by April 1, analytics showed a zero, suggesting that the word may have been censored, reported the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Two days before the Bibles were banned from online purchase, the Chinese government released a document outlining how it intends to promote “Chinese Christianity” over the next five years. According to the document, one of the government’s key objectives is to reinterpret and retranslate the Bible in order to enhance “Chinese-style Christianity and theology.”

Among China’s main religions—which include Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, and folk beliefs—Christianity is unique for having its holy text banned from commercial brick-and-mortar bookstores. Until the internet, Bibles could only be obtained via church bookstores (because they lacked a barcode), a reality that in the past has dissuaded house church Christians wary of official Three-Self churches from purchasing the text.

A joint venture between the Amity Foundation and the United Bible Societies, Amity Printing Company is the only press in China allowed by the government to print Bibles.

As CT reported in 2003:

Legal Bibles are not in short supply. The Red Guards confiscated Bibles, so that after the Cultural Revolution, the most pressing need of Christians in China …

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