NANJING, CHINA—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.
As Tibetan monks grab headlines protesting the lack of religious freedom under Chinese rule, a booming Bible industry is on its way to turning the world’s biggest atheist nation into the world’s largest producer of the Good Book.
Chairman Mao might have said, “Our God is none other than the masses of the Chinese people,” but here at Nanjing Amity Printing Co., China’s only state-sanctioned Bible printer, little time is wasted pondering the contradictions of a metaphysical mismatch.
“We are printers,” said Li Chunnong, the general manager of the plant, which has about 500 employees. “As long as somebody legitimate sends us an order, we will print them.”
This pragmatic mind-set has contributed to the company’s staggering growth. Since its first Bible rolled off the presses two decades ago, Amity has printed more than 50 million copies in 75 languages and exported to more than 60 countries. With the help of a new hangar-sized facility, the company could well be the biggest Bible factory in the world, cranking out 12 million copies a year.