Zondervan Pulls “Kung Fu” Christianity Guide

By Neal 

deadly-viper-artwork.jpgTwo years ago, Mike Foster and Jud Wilhite published a book called Deadly Viper: Character Assassins, “a kung fu inspired book on leadership integrity” that did well enough to attract the attention of Zondervan (the Christian publishing arm of HarperCollins), which released a new edition last month along with a new study guide. But the efforts to raise the book’s profile and engage a larger audience also brought it to the attention of Asian-American evangelicals like Eugene Cho—and though he acknowledged the good intentions of Foster and Wilhite (describing them as “brothers in Christ”), he also observed that the ersatz Asian imagery throughout the book was offensive because it perpetuates stereotypes and caricatures.”

“The reality is that we’re all prone to judging books by its cover,” Cho continued,” and the reality is there are folks who are judging Asians by the cover and we’re tired of fighting these stereotypes and caricatures.” A few days later, Cho and others voiced their concerns directly to the authors and publisher, and commented that “our correspondence with Mike and Jud… only re-affirmed the positive feelings I have had of them and their ministry.” As a result of that dialogue, Zondervan agreed to recall Deadly Vipers, with CEO Moe Girkins apologizing for the offense the book caused while expressing “love and support” for Foster and Wilhite and encouraging them to rework the material into “a better presentation.”

Today, the Deadly Vipers website has been rebranded as the home of “People of the Second Chance.” “In the past few weeks of learning, loss, tears, and experiencing a significant valley in our lives,” Foster and Wilhite write, “we are more certain than ever that God does his best work in brokenness… We have this simple belief that deep inside of all us we are desperately wanting grace, forgiveness, second chances and a fresh start.”