WASHINGTON – The retail arm of the largest U.S. Protestant denomination has apologized to Asian-Americans for using stereotypical images, including rickshaws, in advertisements.
For its summer Bible school, a unit of the Southern Baptist Convention promoted to children a “Far Out Far East Rickshaw Rally: Racing to the Son.” Advertisements included images of the hand-pulled cart as well as other Asian motifs, including boxes of Chinese takeout food.
Community advocates protested after the advertisement came out in 2004, saying it cast Asian-Americans in stereotypical, foreign imagery associated with poverty.
Lifeway Christian Resources — which runs more than 160 Baptist stores across the United States, mostly in the South — apologized nearly a decade later and said that its staff would work to show more sensitivity in the future.
“I am sincerely sorry stereotypes were used in our materials, and I apologize for the pain that they caused,” Thom Rainer, the president and CEO of the retailer, told a multiethnic church conference in California on Wednesday.
The retailer had earlier pulled the advertisement but defended it, with a previous executive accusing critics of making “inflammatory” charges of racism.