CNA STAFF, Feb 12, 2009 / 03:37 am (CNA).- The
scholarly publisher Blackwell is being accused of censorship for suspending the
publication of the “too Christian” Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization and
seeking to destroy existing copies pending a full revision of the text. The
encyclopedia’s Editor-in-Chief is filing two lawsuits against the company to
require the encyclopedia be published without removing its “Christian content,
tone and character.”
George Thomas Kurian, Editor-in-Chief of the Encyclopedia of Christian
Civilization (ECC), has circulated a letter protesting Blackwell’s actions,
which he calls a “looming crisis” in the publication of the work.
According to Kurian, the ECC was completed in 2008 a year ahead of schedule
and in four volumes instead of the original three.
“It was edited, copyedited, fact checked, proofread and finally approved by
Blackwell’s editorial team,” he wrote, saying the completed work was launched at
the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Biblical Literature where it
received “high praise.”
Kurian said the EEC was “lauded and praised” by Miami University Prof.
Edwin Yamauchi and Notre Dame Prof. Mark Noll.
On the Amazon.com web page for the ECC, Prof. Yamauchi said the work
“promises to be an exceedingly valuable reference work” and is “nearly
exhaustive in scope” providing articles on broad topics like the “Roman Catholic
Church” and giving “succinct analysis” of themes such as “Christian
He writes that the ECC also provides a “cornucopia” of maps, charts and
According to Amazon.com, Prof. Noll said the “thoughtfully conceived” ECC
presents “authoritative articles, sensible bibliographies, and consistently
Kurian claimed that some members of the ECC editorial board determined that
the encyclopedia’s introduction and many of the entries were “too Christian, too orthodox, too anti-secular and too
anti-Muslim and not politically correct enough for being used in
He alleged that “under mounting pressure from the powerful anti-Christian
lobby” Blackwell Religion publisher Rebecca Harkin and Editorial Director
Phillip Carpenter agreed with the critics’ assessment, suspended publication of
the ECC, and began proceedings to pulp the entire edition of several
thousand copies of the four-volume ECC set.