Apple, China Force Firm To Remove Bible App

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By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News

(Worthy News) – A Christian software company says it has been forced to remove its Bible application from the Apple App Store in China amid a government crackdown on printed and digital Bibles.

The “Olive Tree Bible app” includes the text of the Bible as well as Bible study tools and reading plans for smartphone and tablet users.

Removing the app raised questions about China’s influence over American companies and their cooperation with Chinese communist authorities.

The firm running the Bible app said tech giant Apple made it clear it needed the “necessary authorization” from the Chinese government.

“The Olive Tree Bible Software was informed during the App Store review process that we are required to provide a permit,” the company said. Permission must show “our authorization to distribute an app with book or magazine content in mainland China,” a spokesperson added.

“Since we did not have the permit and needed to get our app update approved and out to customers, we removed our Bible app from China’s App Store.”


The removal of the Bible app comes as access to both digital and printed Bibles is increasingly restricted across China, according to sources familiar with the government’s thinking.

China is one of Apple’s biggest markets, and the company’s supply chain is heavily reliant on Chinese manufacturing.

However, Apple chief executive Tim Cook has been accused of hypocrisy by politicians in the United States for speaking about American politics but “staying quiet” about China.

Cook criticized then President Donald J. Trump’s ban of seven Muslim-majority countries in 2017.

He is also accused of complying with the Chinese government over censorship but not publicly criticizing it for its treatment of Christian and Muslim minorities.

A “Quran app,” deemed a holy book by Muslims, was also removed from the App Store in recent weeks.


The New York Times newspaper reported earlier this year that Apple takes down apps in China if deemed off-limits by the Chinese government.

Topics that apps cannot discuss reportedly include Tiananmen Square, the Chinese spiritual movement Falun Gong, the Dalai Lama, and independence for Tibet and Taiwan.

Benjamin Ismail, project director at Apple Censorship, said: “Currently, Apple is being turned into the censorship bureau of Beijing.
They need to do the right thing, and then face whatever the reaction is of the Chinese government.”

Earlier this year, several Christian accounts were also removed from WeChat – China’s leading social media platform, Worthy News monitored.
Additionally, Christian internet search terms such as “Christ,” “Bible” and “Gospel” were reportedly blocked.

In early 2021 the Chinese government further restricted the purchase of Bibles from shops and online retailers, Christians said. As censorship continues, pressure is mounting on Apple and other American tech companies to maintain principles above profits.

Besides China, both Apple and Google recently removed a tactical voting app devised by jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

Russian authorities had threatened to fine the two companies if they refused to drop the app, which told users who could unseat ruling party candidates.

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