Bible sales up, soldiers' demand high
Sales of Bibles, hymnals, and prayerbooks were up 36.8 percent in January, Financial Times reported Friday.

"Is this a result of the war? … A fear of the unknown? Could be," Zondervan spokesman Mark Rice told the paper. "After 9/11, Bible sales spiked from right after the attacks, all the way through February of the next year."

In fact, Rice says, Zondervan Bible sales were 10 percent higher in January 2003 than they were in January 2002—which was much higher than in earlier years.

Other religion books didn't do so well. Financial Times says sales of "other religious" books (titles that aren't Scripture, hymnals, or prayerbooks) dropped 7 percent in January. The Association of American Publishers reported earlier this month that sales of religious books dropped 3.3 percent in 2002—Bibles were up 4.5 percent, but other religious titles were down 5.8 percent. (Weblog can't find statistics for the CBA, which covers Christian bookstores.)

The Boston Globe reports that religious trinkets are also selling quickly, especially silver metals with the image of St. Christopher on them.

Meanwhile, U.S. troops in the Persian Gulf are begging for Scripture, the conservative news site WorldNetDaily reports, picking up a story from the Beverly LaHaye Institute. "Requests from commanders, chaplains, soldiers, sailors and airmen continue to pour in, including one scrawled message on a piece of cardboard which reads: 'I have a Bible … but the guys in my unit don't have any. Can you send [Bibles] over?'"

Retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Dick Abel, who runs Campus Crusade for Christ's Military Ministry, is in charge of Rapid Deployment Kits, which contain a tract, Bible, and devotional in a Ziploc bag.  "I was sort of overwhelmed by it," he says. "We sent out 400,000 prior to the war. We have orders for 40,000 and many of those are from the war zone."

His aren't the only Bibles being given to soldiers. The Bible U.S. army chaplain Capt. Richard Compton, is giving his troops in the 101st Airborne Division (which suffered the grenade attack yesterday) has a human skull and batwings on the cover, Reuters reported last week.

The Associated Press has several excellent photos of soldiers reading and studying their Bibles during their breaks.

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