As many of you know, several Asian-American leaders and I have been in dialogue with both the authors of Deadly Vipers and the publisher, Zondervan, over a controversy I've written about here and here. I know that many who have followed along have been frustrated by the [perception of the] lack of progress and movement but there have been a lot of things going on behind the scenes and I'm thankful to share that we recently received this official statement and apology (and concrete actions) from Maureen Girkins, the CEO of Zondervan.
In short, they have decided to pull the Deadly Vipers book and curriculum from stores.
While this decision pleases us, I want you to know that no one is jumping up and down. I have no desire to revel or bask in "victory" for the simple reason that I don't see this as a win or lose, us vs. them, Asians vs. non-Asians, etc. I never saw it that way. We are part of the larger body of Christ. We are your sisters and brothers and while Asian-Americans are not a monolithic group, many of us shared our pain and hurt over the presentation and marketing of the book and curriculum.
In the official Zondervan statement, I was also very encouraged that they are reaching out to the authors, Mike and Jud, to "come up with a better presentation of that message." I intend to reach out to them as well. I sort of know Mike and have had some interactions with him; I have yet to meet Jud, but believe in their leadership and presence, and I hope to work with them in the future. (See below for their message and my hope that it will be raised up again in the near future.)
My prayers remain with Mike and Jud as I'm sure this entire situation has been incredibly difficult. They are brothers in Christ and good leaders, and I sincerely hope things will converge in such a way that we can share in face to face conversation and fellowship in the future.
The other leaders and I have contended from the beginning that this isn't a personal attack on the authors and that we wholeheartedly support the elevation of the subject matters of their book -- 'character and integrity ' -- for all Christians, especially female and male leaders.
I'm certain that the dialogue won't end here, for reconciliation and unity need to be steadfast and intentional pursuits. For example, Zondervan has asked a couple folks to consider joining an advisory board to consult with them on future materials. And I certainly hope that our interactions with Mike and Jud will not end with this situation. As I've shared before in an earlier post, I do not want my relationship with them to be defined by this "controversy," nor do I want to be content in being "Facebook friends."
Lastly, I want to thank Zondervan for hearing us, engaging us, and ultimately doing the right thing. I acknowledge that it wasn't an easy thing to do, but they did the right thing. Apologies are never easy. But acknowledging and correcting require humility, leadership, and courage, and we commend them and the authors, Mike & Jud.
Thanks for your support and prayers.
Also, the Deadly Vipers Web site has been taken down with the following note below. I sincerely hope that the heart and content of their ministry, book, and Web site will re-emerge in the future. The form can change but the content is what formed the crux and heart of their ministry. A believer of the People of the Second Chance