I) WORLD's reporting was professional, careful, internally consistent, thoroughly documented, and verified by the fact that 10 weeks after the story was first released, Zondervan, IBS, and CBT-after denying the existence of any firm plans to change the NIV-have conspicuously reversed course and abandoned those plans. (See IBS's press release) Challenges to the story have been sloppy, contradictory, off the point, constantly changing, and not credible to large segments of the Christian public. This controversy highlights the distinction between two types of EPA members, journalists and public-relations officials. The intense interest in this story by the Christian public is a special reminder that whereas public-relations officials work for their companies or organizations, journalists work for their readers. Many times, as in this case, those loyalties come into conflict. While we regard these ethics charges as baseless, the members of the ethics committee have before them a historic decision: they have the power to promote independent Christian journalism or to stifle it. That these charges are even seriously being entertained by the EPA creates a chilling effect against reports that may not please powerful organizations.
II) Extensive portions of the complaint to EPA point to the effect among the evangelical public after learning about plans for the NIV. We urge that all such references be set aside; they are irrelevant to the quality of WORLD's coverage. It is classic corporate public relations practice to shift the focus from the problem itself and to blame the messenger. WORLD was not the party making decisions that proved highly unpopular with the NIV's traditional audience. Those who made the decisions bear responsibility for any loss of trust.
III) WORLD's coverage does indeed carry an adversarial tone and edge-"courageous," to use the term used in EPA's code of ethics . We were originally persuaded, and continue to be persuaded by all subsequent developments, that the evangelical church was being significantly offended. The tone is not different from dozens of pieces carried by other independent EPA publications through the years (Sojourners, The Other Side, etc.) on other topics. Perhaps the significant difference is that this time multi-million dollar organizations with extensive interests throughout the evangelical world have been offended, and then utilized their powerful public relations capabilities to speak back.
IV) Three complaints about facts can be dealt with quickly:
a. WORLD concedes an error in initially referring to the "Committee for Biblical Translation" rather than the "Committee on Bible Translation." This error occurred in a single instance, and we have acknowledged it in our June 14 issue.
b. We regret that Mrs. Waggoner was offended by our referring to her as Ms. Waggoner. This was not, however, as charged in the complaint, an inconsistency in the application of our style. It is our regular practice to use the courtesy title "Ms." when we do not know the marital status of the woman referred to. In Donna Rice Hughes's case, the fact of her marriage was part of the story ("She wasn't Hughes then-just Donna Rice.").
c. The 35 percent figure-referring to the NIV's market share-was provided to WORLD by Kenneth Barker, spokesman for the NIV. Zondervan's own website uses a 34.4 percent figure. If Zondervan provides evidence that Mr. Barker and its website are mistaken, we will be glad to run a correction.
Responses to specific charges within the complaint:
1. COMPLAINT: While Zondervan Publishing House is mentioned throughout the article, we were not approached for comment or even factual confirmation as the story was being written. This is simply the most rudimentary of all professional journalism principles and it was not practiced.
RESPONSE: The story is primarily about the translation of the NIV, not its production and marketing. Zondervan is mentioned only four brief times in a four-page story. WORLD still stands by all four references. The New York Times and National Public Radio have done stories about this controversy, mentioning WORLD. Their reporters have never talked to WORLD, and we never expected them to. Do The New York Times and NPR therefore not practice the "most rudimentary of all professional journalism principles"?
2. COMPLAINT: In his Publisher's message printed in the August 17/24, 1996 issue of WORLD, Joel Belz wrote, "I hope you won't be unduly scandalized if I tell you how I typically go about reporting a news story. Readers are best served, I have found, if I decide very early in the process what I think the story should say. Then I deliberately look for details to back up my preconception....[T]he idea is basic to our approach here at WORLD...."
RESPONSE: Zondervan is as artful at taking statements out of context as it claims WORLD is. Zondervan should be embarrassed to use a quote so grotesquely out of context-and in an ethics complaint, of all places. The full article is available on WORLD's website and to anyone who asks.
3. COMPLAINT: In his workshop during the EPA annual convention in Grand Rapids, MI, May 7, 1997, "Objectivity in Christian News Reporting," Mr. Belz flatly stated, "I don't believe in objectivity." He said, rather, "WORLD magazine's editorial goal is to pursue truth," and that all WORLD's articles should be measured by "how true and how fair they are." He explained that if a reporter sets out to describe a room, that reporter should "go into every part of the room." He said, "If I just stay in one part of the room, I haven't done my job." He called it "dastardly reporting" to "leave out pieces of truth in a story."
RESPONSE: What pieces were left out of the story?
4. COMPLAINT: WORLD made up its mind on the theme of this story, then sought and printed only that information which appeared to bolster its position. In the process, WORLD has caused confusion and distrust among readers of the NIV Bible. Zondervan has received hundreds of letters, phone calls, and e-mail messages from people who believe the misinformation WORLD first printed. Pastors have pulled the NIV from their pews and have recommended people no longer read it.
And other Christian media have repeated the story, using only WORLD's misinformation as their source. WORLD Assistant Editor, Susan Olasky, even appeared on national radio programs repeating her aspersions. In his Publisher's message printed in the August 3/10, 1996 issue of WORLD, Mr. Belz wrote, "Both aspects of the journalistic assignment are critical. You don't want a good reporter to fudge either on the main story or on the details. It's only when the two regularly complement each other that confidence grows and trust is enhanced. Fall off on either side, and disaster lurks."
We insist that WORLD, indeed, erred on reporting both the main story and the details in covering the NIV. Mr. Belz went on in his column, "...Every detail in the documentary may have been technically accurate--but so what, if the main drift was false to the historical record? And, "There, for sure, is a demonstrably true detail. But where does the writer's direction mean to take you?" Using Mr. Belz's own words, we contend that the writer of the NIV articles in question take the reader in a direction far from the truth.
In his August 17/24 column, Mr. Belz continued, "Having formed an opinion about what the gist of the story ought to be, and then having moved aggressively to find facts and details to back up that opinion, I'd better also be ready to face honestly any facts and details that prove me wrong in my original presuppositions." The EPA Code of Ethics specifically states, "Christian publications should be honest and courageous, their presentations characterized by sincerity, truthfulness, accuracy and an avoidance of distortion and sensationalism. Those responsible for the publication must exercise the utmost care that nothing contrary to the truth is published. Whenever substantive mistakes are made, whatever their origin, they should be conscious of their duty to protect the good name and reputation of others. In dealing with controversial matters, opposing views, when presented, should be treated honestly and fairly." This code was disregarded by WORLD. By Mr. Belz's own words, WORLD did not "go into every part of the room" on this story and it committed "dastardly reporting." Truthfulness and accuracy were missed. Rather than avoiding distortion and sensationalism, WORLD employed them. Utmost care was not exercised. Opposing views were not treated honestly and fairly. And WORLD seems to be unconscious of its duty to protect the good names and reputations of Zondervan Publishing House, International Bible Society, and Committee on Bible Translation.
RESPONSE: WORLD disagrees. Both the overarching theme of the story and the preponderance of details coincide with reality. Where any erroneous detail has been pointed out, we have conceded the point. Other responses here will demonstrate how small that number is, and the legitimacy of the main story.
Objections to the first article (March 29, 1997):
5. COMPLAINT: Cover: THE STEALTH BIBLE: The popular New International Version Bible is quietly going "gender-neutral" Sensational. "Stealth" implies secrecy. Absolutely not. We have hid nothing and have nothing to hide. We've publicly stated the review process of the NIV and we've talked with retailers, pastors, and scholars about their perception of the need to reflect gender specificity in NIV revisions. From the start, when the complete NIV was published in 1978, the translators specifically and publicly stated that revisions would continue in three areas: 1) as more ancient manuscripts are found which could affect the underlying Hebrew or Greek text, 2) as new linguistic and scholarly insights into the ancient languages clarify presently obscure words or idioms, and 3) as English words change their meaning. The Preface to every NIV Bible speaks to this revision process. From Zondervan's perspective, it was premature to make an announcement of a new revision. Even at this writing, many details surrounding the publication of the revision are unresolved. "Gender-neutral" is a misleading pejorative.
RESPONSE: The project was not conducted secretly? The ultimate test is whether the NIV-reading public was surprised. It was. (By the way, the sentence, "Even at this writing, many details surrounding the publication of the revision are unresolved," has been overtaken by events.)
6. COMPLAINT: Article Title: THE FEMINIST SEDUCTION OF THE EVANGELICAL CHURCH: FEMME FATALE The tone of the title and the article itself declares WORLD's predetermined agenda. It erroneously attempts to convey a conspiracy of evangelical Bible translation with radical social feminism. It disjointedly begins by focusing on the NIV translation process, then makes a leap to somehow connect that with the role of women in church ministry. The article consists of assumptions and presumptions.
RESPONSE: The word conspiracy never appears nor is suggested in the article. Seduction can and does occur as much through carelessness as through devious manipulation. WORLD has never claimed nor meant to imply that the NIV's sponsors identify with a radical feminist agenda. What we do assert is that all of us have been profoundly seduced by cultural feminism. The question is: To what extent do evangelical Christians recognize such seduction and build defenses against it? We believe the NIV's sponsors were neither adequately sensitive to that seduction nor prepared to build defenses against it.
7. COMPLAINT: "Committee for Biblical Translation (CBT)". It is Committee on Bible Translation. "35 percent of American Bible buyers who prefer the NIV". The NIV holds 45% of market share in the Christian book industry.
RESPONSE: See Items IVa and IVc above.
8. COMPLAINT: "That may not happen--publisher Zondervan may still choose to put out two separate versions...." WORLD never called Zondervan to confirm this.
RESPONSE: What's to confirm? There are two options presented-may put out two separate versions or may not put out two separate versions-and those options cover the entire realm of possibility. It is curious that Zondervan says in its final point of complaint, "We have also said all along that publishing plans (dates, deadlines, marketing schedules, etc.) had not yet been determined." That's basically what WORLD said.
9. COMPLAINT: "Pressure for unisex language came from....the NIV's American publisher, Zondervan, and from Hodder and Stoughton, the NIV's British publisher." No pressure was applied by these publishers. Hodder & Stoughton assessed that English in the UK was to a point where readers were requesting gender-specificity for clarity of understanding. Zondervan saw that American English was not to that point, so we did not pursue the matter after initial involvement.
The term 'unisex' is inflammatory and wrong. It communicates that Zondervan and Hodder & Stoughton want to make male and female distinctions in the Bible completely indistinguishable. That is not true. "...Hodder & Stoughton demanded a new version in order to compete." Hodder & Stoughton did not demand it. It encouraged the CBT to proceed with its clarifying gender treatment.
RESPONSE: Two members of the CBT volunteered this information to WORLD. Although they still wish to remain unidentified, they have confirmed this information since the first story appeared. More important, the June 16 issue of Christianity Today quotes IBS vice-president Eugene Rubingh as saying that "publishers Zondervan and Hodder & Stoughton first suggested a more inclusive text to the CBT because they knew of seminary professors dropping the NIV in favor of the New Revised Standard Version...."
10. COMPLAINT: "The controversy over unisex language bothers Kenneth Barker, secretary of the CBT...." Dr. Barker objects to the entire article. See his letter attached. He says, " I was so disappointed in the manner in which the whole subject was handled that I regret giving my consent to be interviewed."
RESPONSE: The complaint is a non-sequitur. Nevertheless, despite Mr. Barker's being "disappointed," he has never denied the accuracy of WORLD's reports of its conversations with him.
11. COMPLAINT: "But a look at the New Revised Standard Version shows...." The CBT and NIV have nothing to do with the NRSV. To bring the NRSV in as a comparison to the NIV is like comparing apples and oranges.
RESPONSE: The reason for referencing the NRSV was clearly stated in the first story: "... a look at the New Revised Standard Version shows how difficult it is to make changes without tampering with the meaning."
12. COMPLAINT: "The result of the shift to unisex language may be to cloud the uniqueness of men and women." The CBT, IBS, and Zondervan are committed to doing exactly the opposite: to not "blur God's intended uniqueness of men and women." WORLD erroneously uses "unisex" to describe the issue. Any review of the NIV text by the CBT is based on translation from the original languages and is intended to bring about greater accuracy and faithfulness, not less. To say otherwise is simply wrong.
"It also underscores the uphill nature of the battle being fought by those who seek to preserve a "complementarian" view..." While IBS expects CBT members to adhere to the authority of Scripture and sign a statement of faith that reflects historic orthodox Christian faith or evangelical theology, we don't believe Bible translation should be slanted to reflect one theological or interpretative view over another. WORLD seems to be saying Bible translation should be slanted in favor of a particular view. The Bible should no more be translated using complementarian theology than it should using egalitarian theology. Faithfulness to the original languages is the touchstone of a good translation. CBT, IBS, and Zondervan are committed to being faithful to the original texts, period.
"The move fits with the trend toward egalitarianism...." WORLD's attempt to link NIV Bible translation with social feminism or the differing views on the role of women in the church is wild assertion.
"But with the changes in Bible translations, it will be harder to tell what Scripture actually teaches." This sentence is a sweeping insult to the character, integrity, and qualifications of CBT members. The CBT is a group of evangelical Bible scholars who believe in the authority and infallibility of Scripture. CBT's intent is to constantly review critiques, analyze new textual finds such as the Dead Sea Scrolls, and note changes in the English language. The focus is on maintaining complete accuracy to the original text in the face of these findings and changes. The message never changes, not even the slightest bit. The goal is that where a masculine, feminine, or neuter noun or adjective is changed, it can only be revised in order to be more unmistakably accurate. Clarity, not confusion, is the objective.
RESPONSE: Extensive analysis since publication of the first article, by a variety of scholars, demonstrates unmistakably that dozens, and perhaps hundreds, of changes were made based on stylistic preference rather than textual accuracy. Documentation is readily available. Moreover, this complaint contains another statement that has been overtaken by events. Zondervan writes, "Any review of the NIV text by the CBT is based on translation from the original languages and is intended to bring about greater accuracy and faithfulness, not less. To say otherwise is simply wrong." Zondervan president Bruce Ryskamp and Lars Dunberg of IBS have said otherwise, by signing the statement that grew out of the Focus on the Family meeting. The Hodder & Stoughton "inclusive language edition," produced by the CBT and copyrighted by IBS, has been repudiated.
13. COMPLAINT: "Last year Zondervan published the New International Reader's Version....It is "inclusive," although it isn't marketed that way, and there is no identifying statement on the cover." The implication here is that Zondervan is insidiously preying on children by forcing biblical error on an unwary public. WORLD should have called Zondervan for clarification, or at least comment. Forty translators, educators, and literary experts, from 14 denominations, carefully reviewed sentence structure, grammar, syntax, treatment of gender, and word selection to ensure maximum comprehension at the third-grade reading level while retaining faithfulness to the original biblical texts. To be as clear as possible on a third-grade level, the NIrV uses short sentences and common words. In our promotion of the NIrV, we did not feel it was important to call attention to the treatment of gender since it was not a distinguishing feature of the translation.
In marketing the NIrV, we have tried to show its reliability as a scholarly translation coupled with its accessibility and clarity for early readers, who include not only children but adults as well. That is why we publish the NIrV in both a children's edition and an adult edition. It is for those learning to read for the first time (children and adult) and for those who speak English as a second language. No objections have been raised to the NIrV since it first appeared in 1995. And we are not aware of any significant objections to similar treatment of gender issues in other recently published Bible translations, coming from other evangelical publishers, which are popular in the evangelical market.
RESPONSE: Again, what does the public itself think about this? On an issue so volatile and sensitive, transparency by the publisher seems essential. Yet on p. viii of one NIrV edition, the publisher asks candidly: "How is the NIrV different from the NIV?" No reference is made to the inclusive language used throughout. Elsewhere in this complaint (#26), Zondervan defends itself against WORLD's charges of unacknowledged gender changes to the NIrV with the sophistry that it "is a new translation. No changes or revisions were made." Yet, the Focus meeting statement, signed by Zondervan's Mr. Ryskamp, directly contradicts the assertion. It says, "We agree that it was also regrettable that the New International Reader's Version ... was released with a Preface which did not explicitly notify parents that gender-related changes were made in this version."
14. COMPLAINT: As American publishers we object to the term "inclusive." Phrases such as "inclusive language," "unisex language," and "gender-neutral" are seen by many in the U.S. as negative and politically charged, and suggestive of advocating a feminist social agenda. We object to being put in these camps in the WORLD article; we intend in no way to advance a particular social agenda or stray from the original biblical texts. We don't identify with the connotations associated with these terms.
RESPONSE: All such terminology in this era and in this context must be interpreted through the eyes of the beholder. All of us-including Zondervan's own public-relations team-have struggled to find appropriate words. Indeed, it would be useful to consider Zondervan's original wording of which this particular complaint is a shadow: "Terms such as 'inclusive language,' 'unisex language,' and 'gender-neutral' can be seen as negative and politically charged.... We have never identified with these phrases nor will we ever." Note the differences: "As American publishers," "seen by many in the U.S.," "connotations associated with these terms." Zondervan has made important changes, but readers will have to determine what is appropriate. The debate is too new for the dictionary to provide much help.
15. COMPLAINT: "But he [Ken Barker] says, "I've heard-I can't say that this is actual fact-that Zondervan will keep making the two editions," ..." An unconfirmed statement. Why even print it? The writer should have come to Zondervan to confirm whether this indeed was true. The fact is, no decision had been made.
RESPONSE: Which is precisely what WORLD reported in the second paragraph of the story, where we said plainly: "That may not happen-publisher Zondervan may still choose to put out two separate editions...."
16. COMPLAINT: "The translation should "seek to be as inclusive as the original text intends and no more inclusive than the original text intends," he [R. Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville] says." While the writer seems to include this quote to support WORLD's contention, it exactly states the position of CBT, IBS, and Zondervan. To put us on the opposing side of this statement is wrong.
RESPONSE: When a verse clearly referring to "males" arbitrarily changes "men" to "people," it is apparent that the translator has an agenda more inclusive than that of the original text. And Mr. Mohler has made it clear repeatedly whose position he backs in this controversy.
Objections to the "From the publisher" column (April 19, 1997):
17. COMPLAINT: Not only the second article printed by WORLD, but also this draw-a-line-in-the-sand column shows the callousness of the publisher and staff of WORLD toward Zondervan and the search for clarity in this issue. If WORLD was serious about discussing the issues and resolving the matter, after having been alerted to Zondervan's and IBS's objections over its initial coverage, WORLD should have opened a dialogue to communicate with Zondervan instead of circling the wagons and screaming louder. "We stand by our story, and we didn't make up any quotes." While there is a difference between falsifying quotes and misplacing them in wrongful contexts, both are poor journalism. We contend the latter was done. Also, half-truths and innuendo are just as damaging as falsehood. For example, the sentence, "John Smith was sober today," may be true, but the implication that he was drunk every other day is hurtful and wrong.
RESPONSE: After 10 weeks, Zondervan has still failed to identify a single quote we placed in a wrong context. Al Mohler's? Can Zondervan get him to say we quoted him wrongly?
18. COMPLAINT: "But Zondervan, in the entire 10 pages [for response to WORLD], offer not a single example of something we got wrong." Not true. Our response cited specific errors: not calling Zondervan for comment or fact-checking; trying to force a conspiracy theory where none exists; using misleading phrases (inclusive language, unisex language, and gender-neutral) to describe Zondervan's role in publishing the NIV and NIrV; the implication that the NIV is secretly being revised; the contention that a revision of the NIV would be to purposely blur God's intended uniqueness of men and women; that the NIV holds 35% of the market; that people "will not be able to buy a new copy of the version they trust." We refuted all these accusations in our response.
We further specified that, "Where the masculine or feminine was intended [in the original biblical manuscripts], no change will occur. Only those changes which contribute to accuracy will be allowed." WORLD's continued assertion that neither IBS nor Zondervan have pointed out errors is, itself, misrepresentation of the facts.
RESPONSE: A profound difference exists between identifying actual errors and simply disagreeing with the manner in which something was done or the point-of-view of someone else in a disagreement. We continue to say that Zondervan's critiques have consisted of the latter, not the former.
19. COMPLAINT: "After all, who is more clearly identified with the NIV than Zondervan?" Mr. Belz asks this question, then attempts to minimize it. But that is exactly our point. On the popular level, people automatically relate the NIV with Zondervan. The Zondervan name is prominent on the spine of their Bibles; they see the Zondervan name in advertisements for the NIV; retailers purchase their best-selling Bibles from Zondervan. Because of that common connection between Zondervan and the NIV, WORLD was wrong in not interviewing Zondervan before going to press.
"The main theme of our story was that the Committee on Bible Translation has quietly put its weight behind a move to make the NIV gender inclusive." The main theme of WORLD's story was to try to show a conspiracy between the NIV's evangelical Bible translation with feminism, somehow linking social pressure to scholarly translation work (which is completely erroneous).
"In any case, the story was about the CBT, not about Zondervan." Yet Zondervan was mentioned throughout the article, and no attempt was made to fact-check references.
RESPONSE: WORLD disagrees. However, we should point out that the assertion that it is "erroneous" to link "social pressure to scholarly translation work" is another Zondervan statement that has been overtaken by events. Steve Johnson, spokesman for IBS, told Christianity Today, "It is clear that the evangelical church has said: Don't mess with our NIV. IBS has said: We hear you." Surely it is not still "erroneous" to link "social pressure to scholarly translation work."
Moreover, WORLD disputes the underlying assumption of the entire complaint that Zondervan's public-relations department is the place to go for truth and for fact-checking. Our sources were solid and our story has held up over time; Zondervan should not attempt to say the same.
20. COMPLAINT: "In its public response, Zondervan has hurt its own credibility-not WORLD's. 'Has a revised NIV been published?' Zondervan asks in its internet blast. 'No, not since 1983.' But I have on my desk a 1996 NIV, published in Great Britain and purchased last week in London; the title page calls it an 'Inclusive Language Edition.'" First, WORLD uses outrageous terms to implicate Zondervan. The word "blast" is uncalled for, suggesting somehow that we are retaliating rather than trying to inform. Second, WORLD implies that we are lying; that we have indeed published what we say we haven't. WORLD did not distinguish between Hodder & Stoughton and Zondervan. In our initial response, we dealt with only the NIV that Zondervan has published. Even in this Publisher's Column, Mr. Belz refuses to explain that Hodder & Stoughton, and the NIV it publishes, is separate from Zondervan.
"Zondervan also says: 'Terms such as "inclusive language," "unisex language," and "gender-neutral" can be seen as negative and politically charged....We have never identified with these phrases nor will we ever.' But the Bible I just mentioned, published with the imprimatur of the CBT-with royalties accruing to IBS-uses the term "inclusive language" right on the title page." Again, no distinction is made between Hodder & Stoughton and Zondervan. WORLD makes it appear that Zondervan has published this book in the UK, thus making it appear that Zondervan is lying.
RESPONSE: The word "blast" was understated. Yes, we do believe it was devious for Zondervan to state that no revisions to the NIV had occurred since 1983. The British NIV and Zondervan's own NIrV were already on the market. Zondervan apparently concluded it could not sustain its own argument, for after a few days, it changed the wording of this statement on its website.
21. COMPLAINT: "Yet, after a word-by-word review, I will tell you as publisher of WORLD that I stand fully with every nuance and detail of our original article." We have already shown WORLD's errors in word and nuance. Mr. Belz needs to acknowledge these.
"The really serious journalistic sin has always been to misquote a source." WORLD is forgetting that a quote out of context is just as wrong and damaging.
RESPONSE: No specifics are provided to respond to.
Objections to the second article (April 19, 1997):
22. COMPLAINT: "The company's $13 million glass-enclosed headquarters is built on 20 scenic acres in Grand Rapids, Mich. Visitors to the 350,000-square-foot building.... A steady cash flow provided in part by that Bible [NIV]...." The implication here is that Zondervan has profiteered off the NIV and operates out of luxurious offices. No mention is made that we lease the building; we don't own it.
""Many mainline churches prize Zondervan's New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), even though theological conservatives have expressed concern about both the translation of key passages concerning Christ's divinity and the NRSV's unisex language." This implies that the NRSV is produced by Zondervan, or that somehow Zondervan has the same exclusive publishing arrangement with the NRSV that it does with the NIV. This is not true. Zondervan is one of several publishers licensed to publish the NRSV.
""Appealing to both evangelicals and theological liberals, Zondervan has licked the platter clean: Zondervan notes that its NIV dominates the "top 10" best-selling list of Bible-and that doesn't include sales of the NRSV." By its use of pejorative phrases like "stealth Bible" and "unisex language" and saying that Zondervan "licked the platter clean," WORLD has engaged in destructive, sensationalist, yellow journalism in order to discredit the CBT, IBS, Zondervan, and the revision of the NIV. The phrasing of the sentence is also confusing: is the writer saying that both evangelicals and theological liberals buy the NIV?
RESPONSE: WORLD encourages zesty and colorful reporting-except for the color yellow. Compare this sort of specific detail with The Wall Street Journal any day of the week, and we think we're in good company. Besides, Zondervan on its own website had pointed glowingly to its spacious headquarters. Click on the link and see for yourself. (http://www.zondervan.com/Cultures/en-US/Company/Facts/Stats.htm)
23. COMPLAINT: "WORLD called Jonathan Petersen ... to give him the opportunity to be specific about Zondervan's concerns." Assistant Editor Susan Olasky only called after being prompted by a strong letter of objection sent to Mr. Belz. This statement implies that WORLD initiated the contact. It did not. Further, both IBS and Zondervan agree that the tone and the leading questioning of Mrs. Olasky when she interviewed IBS and Zondervan in separate calls appeared to be cold and calculating. Several questions were asked in the assumption style of, "Would you agree that....," to which we often would say, "No, that is not correct," and proceed to explain. "... Mr. Petersen said, "We don't have it in our production pipeline that we are coming out with a gender-accurate Bible." Generally, publishing industry production pipelines reflect books that are within a year of publication;...." Why doesn't the writer stay specific to Zondervan? She did not ask what the standard timetable of Zondervan's pipeline is. Again, the writer is giving the impression that Zondervan is trying to hide something. The fact is that our publishing schedule consists of projects planned for publication up to 18 months. Our production pipeline consists of those projects that have unsigned contracts or whose plans are not yet firm, up to three years out.
RESPONSE: Understandably, both Zondervan and IBS were defensive and noncooperative interviewees. Such tension is normal in investigative reporting. It's disingenuous of Mr. Peterson at this point to provide such precision. If during the interview he wanted to say that the "gender-accurate Bible" was three years or more away, he should have said so. He did not. Instead, he gave an evasive answer using a subjective term. This reinforces our earlier point disputing the underlying assumption of this entire complaint-that Zondervan's public-relations department is the place to go for truth or fact-checking.
24. COMPLAINT: "Although Zondervan has chosen not to say so publicly, at least three pieces of evidence suggest the company is philosophically committed to unisex language." A loaded statement that impugns the reputation and integrity of Zondervan. We are not committed to unisex language. We are not trying to hide anything (we have published and we sell our style manual). Zondervan's book and Bible editorial divisions operate independently of each other. As we told WORLD, our Bible publishing division follows the style of the NIV, so study aids, devotionals, and notes that appear in our Bibles are consistent in presentation with the NIV text.
"The first is Zondervan's editorial style sheet ... the section of the style sheet that deals with sex-specific language, which WORLD obtained from another source, ... goes into three pages of dos and don'ts...." We would have sent WORLD our style manual, A Christian Writer's Manual of Style, had it asked. WORLD asked for a summary statement of Zondervan's treatment of gender in our books, which we supplied. WORLD makes it sound as though "the style sheet" had to be secured surreptitiously; it is readily available in bookstores across the country. The actual count is 2 1/2 pages, not three; if rounding principles were correctly used, it should have been rounded to two pages, not three. And the section does not list "dos" and "don'ts." They are clearly described as guidelines on gender-specific language where authors are encouraged to "be sensitive to words and their overtones." Among the suggestions is, "Do not hide gender if it is significant for the reader."
"This book is given to authors only as a guideline; we do not insist that our authors follow it completely if they have objections to it. WORLD quoted selectively to suit its own purposes and without regard to how these guidelines are actually applied by Zondervan editors. If an author objects to our editing concerning the treatment of gender, we immediately and without argument bow to their wishes. Some 18 months ago we had just such a situation. One of our editors, not realizing the author had strong feelings against gender sensitivity when referring to people in general, edited out all of the unnecessary generic uses of male nouns and pronouns. When the author objected, this editor went to our Editor-in-Chief for advice. His response was clear and immediate. He said it is the author's book and that it is the editor's job to help the author say what he or she wants to say, not to change what he or she has to say. He said if the author objects to the editor on this point, restore everything that he or she requests.
RESPONSE: WORLD's reporter did request Zondervan's style sheet and was faxed a one-sentence summary instead. Beyond that, we will let readers judge. The fact that an author's manuscript was edited for gender purposes before the author was informed tends, we believe, to reinforce our point. If the phrase, "... which WORLD obtained from another source ...," suggests obstinacy on Zondervan's part that we did not actually test, it must be noted that Zondervan did, that same week, refuse to provide pictures of its facilities for our article.
"WORLD confesses to rounding up, not down. In the field of mathematics, fractions one-half and higher are rounded up; fractions below half are rounded down. In the field of common sense, a document that contains three pages-regardless of the amount of text on the third page-is commonly referred to as a three-page document. We are willing to submit this question to mediation.
25. COMPLAINT: "...Zondervan...also put out an easy-reader, unisex variant of the NIV, the New International Reader's Version...." The NIrV is definitely not unisex. Male and female distinctions are upheld. To say otherwise is wrong. Challenging verses remain intact; for example, "When a woman is learning, she should be quiet. She should follow the leaders in every way. I do not let women teach. I do not let them have authority over men. They must be quiet." 1 Timothy 2:11, 12, NIrV.
RESPONSE: The NIrV goes so far as to neuterize references to Jesus himself. It includes dozens of changes clearly made in response to those seeking inclusive language. Zondervan has now decided to revise the NIrV to remove such offensive changes.
26. COMPLAINT: "Publicity for the NIrV, published last year, also provides evidence that Zondervan doesn't like to draw attention to the changes it has made." The NIrV is a new translation. No changes or revisions were made. It is a new Bible translation comprised of short sentences and common words for early readers. Those are the features we focused on because no other Bible translation has them. We did not see the treatment of gender as a unique selling feature because all other evangelical Bible versions that have appeared in the last ten years have similar gender treatment. To say that we don't like to draw attention to the changes is a false assumption and erroneous conclusion.
RESPONSE: See earlier comment.
27. COMPLAINT: "The third piece of evidence, of course, involves Zondervan's contractual relation with the CBT, ...." Zondervan does not have a contractual relationship with the CBT. Zondervan's contract is with IBS.
RESPONSE: That sentence begins a three-paragraph discussion of the relationship between CBT, IBS, and Zondervan. It does not say Zondervan and CBT have a contract. It says they have a contractual relation, which they do, through IBS. The three paragraphs explain the nature of that contractual relation. We say that Zondervan is committed, through a 28-year contract signed in 1995, to a publishing partnership with the IBS and CBT. If there is no such contract, we will be glad to make a correction. WORLD suggests that Zondervan and all companies holding a public trust with the publication of the Bible begin making all such contracts (along with all accompanying research and documents) available to the public.
28. COMPLAINT: "... the CBT, which is committed to what J.I. Packer calls the "feminist edition." WORLD quotes respected theologian J.I. Packer. It is most unfortunate that WORLD deprived its readers of the opportunity to hear from another well respected theologian, Rev. Dr. John R.W. Stott, whose quote is on the cover of the Hodder & Stoughton NIV New Testament edition, "I welcome this edition. There has been no meddlesome tampering with language which relates to God: only what relates to us has been changed. And these modifications are essential. When 'man' means human being, without any intention to exclude women, and when the use of 'brothers' was never intended to exclude sisters, then to retain such gender-specific words would be offensive. Even worse, it would actually misrepresent the meaning of the biblical text."
RESPONSE: Is it unethical not to use the John Stott quote from Zondervan's website? No more so than Zondervan's website "depriving its readers of the opportunity to hear" from J.I. Packer.
29. COMPLAINT: "...Zondervan's Ms. Waggoner..." WORLD's style is inconsistent. In the cover story of the same magazine issue ("THEN AND NOW," pp. 12-13), it repeatedly uses the courtesy title "Mrs." in second reference to Donna Rice Hughes. Yet it uses "Ms." when referring to a married employee of Zondervan. Not only was the employee personally offended, but this inconsistency, in this context, may have added to readers' misunderstanding of Zondervan.
RESPONSE: See Item IVb above.
30. COMPLAINT: "Walking the tightrope between the desire of the CBT for a version "that speaks to the 21st century" and the desire of conservative evangelicals for an accurate Bible translation is a public-relations problem for the publisher...." The CBT has publicly stated its only concern is to accurately and faithfully translate the original biblical manuscripts into clear and readable English. This sentence in WORLD unfairly and wrongly positions CBT as though it is uncaring about accuracy; as though it has chosen readability over faithfulness to the original texts. Further, it reports a problem where none exists: there is no public relations problem for the publisher, since the CBT (as well as IBS and Zondervan) is fundamentally committed to the original text and to rendering God's infallible Word into the English that is being spoken into the 21st century.
RESPONSE: To say "there is no public relations problem for the publisher" is such a direct contradiction to everything else Zondervan has claimed that the whole complaint is thrown into questionable light.
Objections to the third article (May 3/10, 1997):
31. COMPLAINT: "The Smoking Gun" Beginning with the headline, once again WORLD uses sensationalism and distortion throughout the article to discredit Zondervan and International Bible Society. We have said from the start that the CBT was reviewing the NIV for revision and updating. We have also said all along that publishing plans (dates, deadlines, marketing schedules, etc.) had not yet been determined. In this article, WORLD characterizes Zondervan and IBS as liars. It selectively quotes from Lars Dunberg's letter to disparage him and us. The letter, taken in total, does not contradict anything we have said. Had WORLD reported the truth, it would have not only had to rewrite the article, but also to include the line at the bottom of Mr. Dunberg's letter, "These things are still being debated." While the tone of the letter is enthusiastic (given that Mr. Dunberg was writing to the head of the group supporting such revisions), the intent of the letter corresponds with the informal discussions that had been taking place between and within IBS and Zondervan.
RESPONSE: Mr. Dunberg's statement that "[t]hese things are still being debated" is in the context of timing; when, not if. The facts, not our treatment, discredit the earlier testimony of both Zondervan and IBS. Both Zondervan and IBS had for several weeks widely and publicly accused WORLD of claiming falsely that plans were underway for a inclusive language version of the NIV in the U.S. This reference demonstrated clearly that WORLD's story was true. The full text of Mr. Dunberg's letter follows below:
Dear Dr. David Scholer, I read with great interest your article on the NIV: Inclusive Language Edition, "An Important But Mysterious Event" (Priscilla Papers, Fall 1996). As the International President of International Bible Society, I'm happy to break the "silence" and solve this mystery for you. The inclusive edition of the NIV was completed last year. As it was ready to be published, it was decided that because International Bible Society/Zondervan was going to release a New International Reader's Version, the NIV at the 3.5 grade reading level, during the summer of 1996, the NIRV should be released first. This edition is inclusive in its nature. As that version was not ready to be launched in Britain until next year, it was decided to go ahead and let Hodder publish the inclusive version this last fall. Zondervan and IBS will publish an inclusive version of the NIV in the American market. It is not clear yet if that will be done before the major revision that IBS has been working on with the Committee on Bible Translation, which has been going on for the last five-six years. It may be that the next edition will include all those changes, and in that case will not be released until the year 2000. These things are still being debated; that's why we have not been public with it. I trust that this information will be helpful to you. Lars B. Dunberg