Fact Check: Bibles NOT Pulled From Shelves At Barnes & Noble

Fact Check

  • by: Maarten Schenk
Fact Check: Bibles NOT Pulled From Shelves At Barnes & Noble Satire

Did U.S. bookstores like Barnes & Noble decide to stop selling bibles, stating the book contained outdated and controversial ideas? No, that's not true: the story originated as a joke on a Christian-themed satire website and it referenced "booksellers across the country". But because it used a digitally altered photo of a notice in a Barnes & Noble bookstore many people believed the story to be real and the image started to lead its own life online.

The story originated as an an article published by The Babylon Bee on June 12, 2020 titled "Bibles Pulled From Shelves For Outdated Idea That All Humans Are Of One Race And Made In The Image Of God" (archived here) which opened:

U.S.--Online and brick and mortar booksellers across the country will no longer be selling the Bible due to its "outdated depictions of humanity all being of one race and made in the image of God."

The story was accompanied by an image of a sign using the Barnes & Noble logo:

The notice read:

We will no longer be selling the Bible due to outdated depictions of humanity all being of one race and made in the image of God. Thank you for understanding.

The sign was photoshopped over a stock photo titled "Chicago, USA - September 10, 2018: Barnes and Noble bookstore interior" taken by Anton Gvozdikov.

Many people apparently believed the picture or the story were real, causing a sharp uptick in searches for "barnes and noble bible pulled" according to Google Trends:


The story prompted a reaction from the bookstore: they posted a note (archived here) to their Facebook page explaining that the Babylon Bee was a satire website:

Facebook screenshot

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Mon Jun 15 07:55:21 2020 UTC)

The Babylon Bee is indeed a satire site with following disclaimer on the 'about' page:

What is The Babylon Bee?

The Babylon Bee is the world's best satire site, totally inerrant in all its truth claims. We write satire about Christian stuff, political stuff, and everyday life.

The Babylon Bee was created ex nihilo on the eighth day of the creation week, exactly 6,000 years ago. We have been the premier news source through every major world event, from the Tower of Babel and the Exodus to the Reformation and the War of 1812. We focus on just the facts, leaving spin and bias to other news sites like CNN and Fox News.

If you would like to complain about something on our site, take it up with God.

Unlike other satire sites, everything we post is 100% verified by Snopes.com.

At Lead Stories we are big fans of satire but in accordance with our Satire Policy we sometimes fact check satirical content if it seems there are many people who don't get the joke (or if the joke gets stolen by Macedonian fake news sites and is then presented as "news"). To quote from our Satire Policy:

Sometimes jokes need to be fact checked. Not for you, because you are smart and you get the joke. But for the crazy uncle who thinks it is real. Or for the foreign journalist who doesn't know what The Onion is. Or for the people who missed the disclaimer and the hints. Or because the disclaimer and the hints were hidden on purpose.

And that is certainly not hypothetical in the case of The Babylon Bee:

Early in 2020 Sputnik News was fooled by a piece from The Babylon Bee into reporting Jordan Peterson would be hosting the Oscars. If only they had read our fact check from a year before...

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  Maarten Schenk

Maarten Schenk is the co-founder and COO/CTO of Lead Stories and an expert on fake news and hoax websites. He likes to go beyond just debunking trending fake news stories and is endlessly fascinated by the dazzling variety of psychological and technical tricks used by the people and networks who intentionally spread made-up things on the internet.

Read more about or contact Maarten Schenk

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