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11.20.2009

publisher pulls the plug on deadly viper

Some major news regarding the Deadly Viper Character Assassins controversy... The publisher, Zondervan, has released a statement not only apologizing for the book's exploitative characterizations and visual representations, but also announcing that they are pulling the book and the curriculum in their current forms from stores permanently. Here's the statement:
November 19, 2009

Zondervan Statement Regarding Concerns Voiced About "Deadly Viper: Character Assassins"

From Moe Girkins, President and CEO

Hello and thanks for your patience.

On behalf of Zondervan, I apologize for publishing Deadly Viper: Character Assassins. It is our mission to offer products that glorify Jesus Christ. This book's characterizations and visual representations are offensive to many people despite its otherwise solid message.

There is no need for debate on this subject. We are pulling the book and the curriculum in their current forms from stores permanently.

We have taken the criticism and advice we have received to heart. In order to avoid similar episodes in the future, last week I named Stan Gundry as our Editor-in-Chief of all Zondervan products. He will be responsible for making the necessary changes at Zondervan to prevent editorial mistakes like this going forward. We already have begun a dialogue with Christian colleagues in the Asian-American community to deepen our cultural awareness and sensitivity.

Zondervan is committed to publishing Christian content and resources that uplift God and see humanity in its proper perspective in relation to God. We take seriously our call to provide resources that encourage spiritual growth. And, we know there is more to learn by always listening to our critics as well as our advocates.

It would be unfair to take these actions without expressing our love and support for the authors of this book, Mike Foster and Jud Wilhite. Both gentlemen are gifted writers and passionate about their ministry. We do believe their message is valuable and plan to work with the authors to come up with a better presentation of that message. We will jointly ensure we do our due diligence on the appropriateness of the creative side. This will include reaching out to a broad spectrum of cultural experts.

Finally, I want to personally thank Professor Rah, Ken Fong, Eugene Cho and Kathy Khang for their input and prayers during this discussion. We appreciate everyone's concern and effort and look forward to working together for God's kingdom.

Warmly,

Moe
I have to say, considering what's transpired in the past with racist, ignorant Christian curriculum like Rickshaw Rally, this is a pretty surprising turn of events. I was expecting business as usual. I'm particularly impressed that Zondervan is not only taking full responsibility, but making the necessary changes internally to prevent editorial missteps like this in the future.

Big props and thanks to activists like Professor Soong Chan Rah, Pastor Eugene Cho and Kathy Khang, who all had an extremely vocal and vital role in pushing for dialogue with the publisher and authors of Deadly Viper. They each have posts on their own blogs regarding these recent developments. And you know what? Thank you to Zondervan, for doing the right thing.

UPDATE: The Deadly Viper Character Assassins website has been taken down and replaced with this letter from the authors:
To our Friends and Family:

Due to an unfortunate conflict that arose around our use of Asian American themes, we have decided to close this chapter of Deadly Viper Character Assassins. This decision has been a very difficult one for us and one that we did not take lightly.

For the past 2 years we have had the honor to be part of an incredible movement of advocating for radical integrity and grace. We have been deeply humbled hearing your stories of how Deadly Viper has impacted your life, family, and relationships.

We and our team will continue to commit our lives to the message of integrity, grace, and most of all becoming People Of The Second Chance.

We thank you for your prayers, support, and kindness through this season.

We love you.

Mike Foster and Jud Wilhite
Again, thank you to the publisher and the authors for doing the right thing.