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Advent of Religious Paperback Puzzles Some in Vermont


Published October 27, 2022 at 1:23 p.m.
Updated November 2, 2022 at 10:17 a.m.

  • Anne Wallace Allen ©️ Seven Days
The Great Controversy, a Seventh-day Adventist text that has been circulating since the mid-19th century, has been causing a small stir in Vermont over the past few weeks.

The book, which purports to tell of “the Vatican’s rising influence in America” and has a global following on social media, has come through the mail to homes in cities and towns including Essex, St. Albans, Burlington, Norwich, Winooski and Montpelier. The cover of the edition that went to Vermont shows the U.S. Capitol and St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City.

Remnant Publications, a Bible publisher in Coldwater, Mich., was the source of the mailing to Vermont. Deb Hall, who owns the business with her husband, Dwight, said she didn’t know how many copies  went to Vermont, or where. They’re shipped out by the thousands to blocks of zip codes at the request of donors, Hall said.

“It’s been our top seller,” Hall said of The Great Controversy. “People seem to really like that book.”

In Montpelier, some puzzled homeowners have taken to Front Porch Forum to ask why their names were on the mailing label. Hall, though, said her company doesn't "have any personal information."

The controversy described in the 450-page paperback is the struggle between good and evil. Hall doesn’t know if the mailing had anything to do with current events in Vermont, where voters are deciding whether to amend the state Constitution to enshrine the right to an abortion. With 35 years of experience in the book-mailing business, Hall is accustomed to explaining.

“It’s just a good gesture, a friendly way to spread the word,” Hall said. “We get phone calls that maybe they don’t like it, that it’s being pushed on them, which it’s not. We say, ‘Well, if you don’t like it, throw it away. Or take a look, or put it on a shelf for later.’”

The book was written in the mid-1800s by Ellen G. White, a cofounder of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and has gone out by the pallet-load over the years. According to various media reports, more than 1 million landed in Manhattan mailboxes in 2013, and  700,000 arrived in Philadelphia, just before a visit from the Pope. The book is available online under an array of imprints.

A few Montpelier recipients bemoaned the waste of paper and said they would be writing “return to sender” on their copy and dropping it in the mail. One declared it should be burned.

Montpelier resident Dave Allin had different advice.

“You can’t put 'return to sender' on junk mail,” Allin advised his neighbors on Wednesday. “Just throw the scary Jesus book in the recycling and get on with your day. Our postal carriers are overworked as it is.”