‘Spiritual terrorism’ against indigenous people still occurs, Lutheran pastor says

Greg Peterson, Today correspondent
10/24/08

MARQUETTE, Mich. – A Lutheran pastor shocked some non-indian members of a multicultural conference in Michigan when he said some Christians still commit “spiritual terrorism” against indigenous peoples and many don’t understand that the land called the United States was stolen from American Indians.

The Christian, Jewish and Islamic faiths have changed little since the days of conquering indigenous peoples around the world, said the Rev. Lynn Hubbard, executive director and co-founder of the nonprofit Turtle Island Project in Munising.

These “Abrahamic religions,” whose faiths can be traced to the book of Genesis and the biblical story of Abraham, “have had a historical tendency towardsreligious colonialism.”

Citing the “doctrine of discovery” and Manifest Destiny, he said that explorers of the New World had church backing to take land and subjugate American Indians.

“That ‘chosen people’ and their ‘promised land’ model was transposed into the doctrine of discovery,” Hubbard said during two presentations Sept. 24 during the annual Uniting Neighbors in the Experience of Diversity conference at Northern Michigan University in Marquette.

“This ‘chosen people’ and ‘promised land’ model is not just something from our shared past, but it is still evoked as the justification for the perpetual genocide of indigenous peoples throughout the world.”

Those supporting the atrocities against indigenous peoples across the globe and American Indians included King Ferdinand of Spain; several popes, including Pope Innocent IV; and Christopher Columbus.

Hubbard said Columbus and the others believed that Native people “were expendable commodities.”

Hubbard read aloud several passages from the book “Pagans in the Promised Land,” by Steven Newcomb, an Indian Country Today columnist.

Newcomb wrote that American Indian rights “to complete sovereignty and to territorial integrity may be impaired, diminished, denied, or displaced simply because they were not Christian people at the time of European arrival to the Americas.”

Hubbard said Newcomb’s words are “absolutely, empirically, the truth.”

“What gave the whites the power and the right was just simply because they created it in their own mind that they are better than other people and that they have the one true God – and therefore entitled to the world.”

Concerning religious influence on American policy, Hubbard said it’s ironic that the “fundamental belief of the American Constitution is the separation of church and state.”

“This is not just hypocrisy – this is spiritual insanity.”

Hubbard said “when European Christian nations discovered new lands,” they “automatically gained sovereign and property rights in the lands of non-Christian, non-European peoples,” despite the fact that “Native peoples already owned, occupied and used these lands.”

“This idea of the ‘chosen people’ is absolutely and essentially ingrained in Euro-American consciousness. We have been in power so long and have been subduing so many people that these beliefs have become unconscious. I truly believe this constitutes the foreign policy of neoconservative politicians in this country.”

“Christianity must once and for all renounce its religious imperialistic tendencies. This is white supremacy coming from our European religious heritage. This is what we have to purge from our spiritual gene pool.”

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