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Christian publishers to print new cover of book about race and the church after accusations of copying

by Cara Bentley

We Need To Talk About Race: Understanding The Black Experience in White Majority Churches by pastor Ben Lindsay, is a challenge to the church to not accept past or current racism. 

This week, the publishers of the book, SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge) received a number of comments regarding the likeness of Ben Lindsay's book to Reni Eddo-Lodge's book, Why I'm No Longer Talking To White People About Race.

Both have a similar white and black design, with near identical font and structure of the words, with Eddo-Lodge calling it 'disappointingly derivative'

Ben Lindsay is the lead pastor at Emmanuel New Cross church in South East London and posted a link to SPCK's decision to change the cover on his Twitter page on Friday. 

Sam Richardson, Chief Executive of SPCK said: "SPCK has decided to withdraw the current printing of 'We Need to Talk About Race' following discussion with its author Ben Lindsay, and to reprint the book with a different cover. It is now clear that our cover design for this book has unintentionally caused confusion and consternation, and we apologise for this. We apologise to Reni Eddo-Lodge for these issues with the cover and that we did not inform her about Ben's book given that her work is referred to in it. We will learn from these errors and we hope that they do not take away from the important messages contained in the works of both Reni Eddo-Lodge and Ben Lindsay.

"SPCK will make copies of the book with a new cover available within the next few weeks. Readers who wish to exchange their copy for one with the new cover may do so via the retailer from whom they purchased the book. SPCK's distributor Macmillan Distribution Limited is accepting returns of the existing printing, and orders placed from MDL now on will be fulfilled from the new print run."

Before the decision to change the cover, SPCK acknowledged the similarity and comments on Thursday: "Ben is very forthcoming in his admiration of Reni's book, referencing her in the introduction and throughout the rest of his book. We Need To Talk About Race was in part inspired by his reading of Reni's book but whilst Ben's book is a nod to all that has come before, his book is bringing something new to this conversation. We Need To Talk About Race is specifically for the UK church and provides a means to help church leaders and congregations work together to create a truly inclusive church community."

They said the cover was inspired by the posters used in the American Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s which featured black text in capital letters on white backgrounds and that Miss Eddo-Lodge's book, "along with numerous other titles focused on race relations, share this same inspiration."

"This book is largely written from Ben's own position as a black pastor of a majority white church and he speaks predominantly from his personal experience. However, he takes great care to bring a number of other voices to the conversation and includes two substantial chapters which enable Christian black women to share their stories. We are committed to championing underrepresented voices within the Church, and within society more generally, and so were very keen to include these sections."

You can read Ben Lindsay's blog about where he explains what his book is about here

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