Let me offer you a sample from Zondervan's Skits That Teach by the Skit Guys (Eddie James and Tommy Woodward) published in 2006. A skit book meant to be used by youth groups all over the US features the following:
"Herro, Dis is Wok's Up Restaurant calling to confirm your order. . . . I think that, yes, you total is 14 dollar 95 cent."
"Herro? This is Wok's Up Restaurant again. We have drive and drive, and we can't find you house. We don't find you house soon, you pu pu get cold. Pu pu good when it hot."
(Hostile) "Okay, we drive for long time looking for you house. I tell you, you go outside and I look for you. I am driving a red Rincon (Lincoln) Continental. You pu pu still getting cold. Bye!
"Okay, I drive for long time and I stil not find you house. So I am eating you pu pu! Ruckiry it still warm. I was hungry, so I eat it. Mmmmm . . . this pu pu is good. (Smacks lips a few times) You on my bad rist. You don't call us anymore. ByeI'm not sure what the skit was originally intended to teach but I shudder to think that any Christian youth group would actually run with that skit.
Perhaps some might wonder - why is this skit even a problem...what's the big deal...why not overlook this altogether?
I think I can best answer that by referring to John Piper's paper on Stereotypes, Generalizations and Racism. In it, Piper makes this point -
"Christians should not be guilty of stereotyping groups, recognizing that stereotyping is different from the just and loving use of generalizations...Christians should use generalizations justly and lovingly to form true and helpful judgments about people and life."
The essential difference between generalizations (which are morally neutral) and stereotyping lies in the intent and effect. Generalizations are nothing more than simply exercising our God given ability for pattern recognition. We notice traits about people of a particular culture or of a specific race. That's normal. Stereotyping is picking on a trait and using it to humiliate or denigrate another. It's uncharitable and as Christians we need to stand against this form of racism, whether or not it affects us personally.
It saddens me that this content found its way into a Christian book and survived the editor's cutting room. However, it's a reminder of the power of indwelling sin in all of us - we are not all racist but we all have potential to sin in the area of racism. If you don't believe that, you probably don't know your own heart.
This post isn't about judging the authors or publishers. It's about drawing attention to the opportunity we have as the church to be distinctive. We should aim to be a picture of unity - celebrating differences, rather than maliciously making fun of them. When we err, we can love the brother we've legitimately offended, by acting swiftly, sincerely and with equal concern as if we ourselves were targeted.
If we do this, we can tell the world about true racial unity by pointing them to Jesus Christ and his Church.