Reconsidering Rickshaw Rally
Raising awareness about Lifeway's "Rickshaw Rally" VBS curriculum

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Updates

December 9 - Sign the online petition to Stop Rickshaw Rally:
http://www.petitiononline.com/sbcvbs01/petition.html

Lifeway has now resorted to misrepresentation in their desire to protect the Rickshaw Rally curriculum.

The President of Lifeway, Jimmy Draper states that "For every phone call, e-mail or letter we receive from Asian Americans expressing concern about "Racing to the Son," we get scores of positive responses."
http://www.floridabaptistwitness.com/1912.article

In an AP report, Mary Katherine Hunt of Lifeway states: "For every concern raised by an Asian American, we are receiving dozens of positive responses from Asian Americans that tell us we are fulfilling our intent to lift up another culture and share the message of hope for all people in Jesus Christ."
http://www.abpnews.com/abpnews/story.cfm?newsId=3959&srch=1

These statements seem to be flat out lies. We are aware of hundreds (at least) of contacts made by Asian-Americans to Lifeway expressing concern regarding the curriculum. We challenge Lifeway to produce substantive evidence that there are thousands of Asian-Americans who are expressing support.

Lifeway believes that concern over the curriculum is coming from a small group of Asian Americans. Please sign the online petition to let Lifeway know that there is wide-spread concern regarding the Rickshaw Rally curriculum: http://www.petitiononline.com/sbcvbs01/petition.html

Other articles of note:
Prof. Ben Mitchell's counter-point to Jimmy Draper
Article summarizing Point-Counter Point
Picked up from AP news reports

December 1 - For the last two months, various channels and higher ups within the Southern Baptist Convention (the denominational body of Lifeway Publications) have raised serious concerns about the Rickshaw Rally curriculum. These channels have included significant theologians from within the SBC, key members of various SBC boards, and significant SBC pastors and church leaders (both Asian and non-Asian). Each of these attempts to speak to Lifeway leadership has fallen on deaf ears. To this date, despite numerous attempts from both within and from outside the SBC, Lifeway has remained intransigent. Lifeway is still under the impression that the protest is coming from a small group of Asians (particuarly Koreans).

The New England Convention of the SBC has formally censured the Lifeway Rickshaw Rally VBS material. An article will be posted with the Baptist Press - expressing a formal protest against the material and encouraging SBC churches to not use the material.

If you are in a church, encourage your church to write a formal letter to Lifeway stating that you will not use the Rickshaw Rally VBS curriculum. This is particularly effective if you are in a SBC church. Write or call your local Christian bookstore imploring them to not carry the Lifeway curriculum. Contact your local SBC regional office to explore the possibility of a statement similar to the statement made by the New England Southern Baptist Convention. Let Lifeway know that there are a significant number of Asian-Americans concerned about this issue.

November 26 - The issue has been covered by EthicsDaily.com: LifeWay’s Asian-Themed VBS Material Draws Protests

November 25 - Despite the initial promises made by the President of Lifeway -- that the material would not be released without being further reviewed by Asian-Americans -- Lifeway has proceeded with business as usual. They have released their VBS material catalog and are planning a series of promotional conferences throughout the month of October. No substantive changes have been made in either the curriculum or the marketing of the curriculum. When confronted with this development, the President of Lifeway stated that "We are learning in the process and are committed to providing the kind of materials God can use. . . We do not want to do anything to jeopardize the effectiveness of this ministry anymore than you do. But the decisions we make in this are ours to make and not yours." He also stated: "Judge our decisions, not our hearts".

In judging their decisions, it is evident that they have done nothing in the past two months regarding the curriculum and the marketing of the curriculum. Their actions reflect a complete lack of activity to address the various concerns that have been raised. Apparantly, Lifeway has decided that the protests that have been raised are coming from a small, select group of angry Asians. They have chosen to ignore these concerns and have elected to proceed with business as usual. In fact, new material on their website has even more blatantly offensive and racist material. Some excerpts:

The chorus to the theme song: ". . . wax on, wax off, get your rickshaw ready... to the far out, far east"

Among their money making efforts:

  • A karate boy keychain for $1.99 - "Here’s something to cheer about! It’s a decorative wristband, VBS souvenir, and convenient key chain—all in one. With a stretchy coiled band, a Rickshaw Rally logo, and a karate boy, memories of your Far East race will always be close at hand."
  • Name tags in the shape of Chinese take out food boxes (these colorful name tags are available for $5.99 for packets of 20)
  • The entire VBS package comes in a tin in the shape of a Chinese take out food box (available separately to be given as souvenir gifts for VBS teachers)

Some choice gems from their Idea Box:

  • "Our daughter went on a summer mission trip to Okinawa and brought back her Dad a straw peasant hat, so he is all set."
  • OK. I have found out that children enjoy large decorations. Use big props big chop stix made out of wood....
  • If you have a community theatre nearby, check with their Wardrobe Master/Mistress to see if you could borrow one or two Geisha or Samurai costumes for the Director or Teachers.
  • "You could check in with your local rental suppliers to see if they have the sumo wrestler blow-up costumes for the children to wrestle each other in. If you have never seen this done before, it is hilarious! Pretty much whoever can stay standing wins. This could be done for recreation time or during Family Day/Night and get the parents involved!"


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