Group Publishing has apologized and revised the material
A Christian publisher has been criticized because of its vacation Bible school (VBS) curriculum which asks students to role play as slaves with a message stating that African people are “wild.” Critics have said that the Bible school curriculum perpetuates racist stereotypes.
Colorado based Group Publishing created the educational material for published the “Roar” curriculum. It had kids pretending to be slaves and using a “click language” to come up with names. In addition to this, the original curriculum referred to Africa as a country.
The company said, “Some have asked about the Day 5 activity involving the ‘click’ sounds in an African language. ” They followed up by saying, “This activity helps children learn about — and respect — this aspect of language. This was included as a way of sharing a unique, surprising, and completely different language form with kids. We really have nothing like it in North America, and it’s cool!” Group Publishing then went on to say, when they mention African culture, “it’s done with respect and delight, as a way to celebrate God’s diverse family.”
Group Publishing initially reacted by defending their choices by insisting that the slavery exercise referred to “Bible times.” The first solution was instructing communities to omit the words they feel are inappropriate.
When that didn’t work, Group Publishing responded to the criticism by releasing a revised edition and an apology. However, despite corrective measures deployed, many Christians say the curriculum needs to be dropped.
InterVarsity Christian Fellowship Ministry Director Jonathan Walton, has said, “There are many more ways to dramatically interpret Scripture without caricaturing people groups and appropriating rich ethnic tradition for supposed discipleship.”
Summer VBS programs have had churches dress their buildings as elaborate sets with a central theme. Many publishers sell VBS curricula alongside Group. This curriculum is designed to guide Sunday school teachers and volunteers through the entire process of putting on their own VBS.
— Chunter (@Chunter69458517) June 12, 2019
The original version read: “Africa is such a cool continent to explore. Did you know that some parts of Africa are really cool…as in cold! They get snow! But a lot of the country is very hot.”