Radio Evangelist Preaches An Ugly Message

Steven Newcomb

Bryan Fischer, a graduate of Stanford University and the Dallas Theological Seminary, recently posted an ugly article against American Indians entitled, “Native Americans Morally Disqualified Themselves From the Land.” A title better reflective of the dominion (domination) theology found in his article would have been “Native Americans Morally Disqualified Themselves From the Promised Land.”

[Note: The AFA removed Fischer's column from its site., but blogger Rob Schmidt has preserved it on his site Newspaper Rock. Link: "Text of Fischer's racist screed"]

Fischer is a Christian radio talk show host affiliated with the American Family Association and American Family radio. His metaphors and analogies from the Old Testament, along with thinly veiled race-purity arguments designed to be shocking, clearly illustrate that the medieval thinking of old Christendom continues to colonize the minds of certain people in the 21st century.

Fischer’s Old Testament views deserve our pity and contempt. Perhaps, though, one ought to thank him for being so open and forthright with the kind of extreme thinking Christian fundamentalists accuse elements of the Muslim world of exhibiting. He has opened up for scrutiny the kind of thinking that has been foundational to the building of American society. We find it most evident in the Doctrine of Christian Discovery that exists in U.S. federal Indian law, as expressed in Supreme Court ruling Johnson v. M’Intosh (1823), whereby the Court said that the first “Christian people” to “discover” lands inhabited by “heathens” had “assumed the “ultimate dominion” to be “in themselves.”

Fischer’s argument of “moral disqualification” for American Indians is informed by the Old Testament story of the Chosen People and the Promised Land. In the story, “God” is depicted as being on the side of the Hebrews (and, in Fischer’s view, of the Christians) because “Yaweh” is said to have entered into a covenant with Abram, who was renamed Abraham, “a father of many nations.”

Unfortunately for Fischer, people throughout the world have achieved enough distance from that ancient narrative to realize that he and his allies are operating under a form of outmoded idolatry: He worships the idol of the false “God” of racism and race-purity that authorizes the annihilation of entire peoples because those “others” don’t measure up to the norms and standards of the Old Testament Hebrews and their supposed “Christian” successors. To justify the invasion of other peoples all kinds of false charges are made in an effort to demonize them.

In the background story for Mr. Fischer’s narrative, the deity of the Old Testament is depicted as “promising” the lands of other peoples to the Hebrews “as an everlasting possession” and “inheritance.” This is why those other peoples had to be dehumanized and demonized. That deity instructed the Hebrews to go to cities of the Canaanites, Amorites, and other peoples and engage in genocide against them. Why? Those other peoples were already living in the land before the deity had “promised” it to the Hebrews. The pattern is fully revealed in Deuteronomy 20: 10-18:

But of the cities of these people, which the Lord thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth: but thou shalt utterly destroy them, namely, the Hittites, and the Amorites, the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites; as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee.

The Old Testament deity that Mr. Fischer cites in his article does not instruct the Hebrews to save the women and children who were living in those cities. No. The Hebrews were instructed by that deity to leave not one person breathing. They were to be completely destroyed in their totality.

What Fischer terms “emptying the slop bucket” is the answer. The word slop is derived from the Old English sloppe, meaning “cow’s dung,” with extended meanings of “garbage” and “excreted body waste.” In the context of the Old Testament within which Fischer has written his ugly diatribe, “emptying the slop bucket” is a euphemism for “annihilation” of entire peoples.

In other words, the very narrative that Mr. Fischer uses as his standard of judgment against American Indians is a dehumanizing genocidal narrative; that basis alone disqualifies it from being any kind of moral standard of judgment against anyone.

Steven Newcomb (Shawnee/Lenape) is co-founder and co-director of the Indigenous Law Institute, author of “Pagans in the Promised Land: Decoding the Doctrine of Christian Discovery” (2008), and a columnist for Indian Country Today Media Network.

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m8lsem's picture
A loving God gave human beings 'free will,' which means they each do as they see fit, some doing great wrongs. Great wrongs attract a lot of attention, whereas Great Goods are often done unseen. I believe there are more Mother Theresas [she of Calcutta] than there are Genghis Khans or Adolf Hitlers or Kansas militias or Col Roberts ... but they rarely attract notice. Newspapers have never sold with headlines "Everything's Good Today." Be that as it may, Fischer's piece is very revealing ... and that it was removed from his right-wingers' pages without there being also news that he'd been fired, is also very revealing.
m8lsem's picture
Mr. Carlin makes a joke that is funny, but his references are not to the Christian God ... who is neither male nor female, but spirit ... and the 10 Commandments were a gift to a people fleeing from several generations of slavery and therefore possibly a little weak on self-government ... and several of those 10 are does, not don'ts. But his joke is still funny. As for Lewis Carroll, there are many things impossible in his day that are routine knowledge today, and science is limited by the imagination of man, for we must decide on the basis of non-scientific things, what next to do with science. To deny the existence of the transcendental because transcendent (i.e. we can't sense it), would assert that all sorts of knowledge we've gained through tools shows things that weren't there until we had the tools to see them (cells, DNA, for starts). Differently stated, to deny there is anything transcendent unless and until science can prove its existence, is to assert that all of the universe must live by rules we make.
piqua's picture
The topic of the column is Fischer’s vicious use of the OT as means of condemning Indian peoples and justifying the taking of the continent because our ancestors were not Christian. The use of quotes from Carlin and the Red Queen were meant to, in a good natured manner, poke fun at the post by Gary. My mom once said to me, “The problem with Christians is they always have to win.” In other words, for a Christian the Bible (OT and NT) is their basis for making sense of everything in the universe and placing themselves at the top of the heap. If that is Gary’s world, then for Gary this is fine, but not for those of us who do not share his view of reality. Christians tend to view themselves and their religion as being “on Top,” as in “the one and only true religion” syndrome. And though I’m not attributing this to Gary (he seems sincere in his effort to educate us all in the patterns that he says he has “found”), still, a “one true religion” way of thinking has tended to become dogmatic, pathological, and hateful, such we find in Fischer’s case. However, this tendency toward dogmatism, pathology, and hatefulness seems to be characteristic of the human condition. In my view, “transcendental nonsense” is the tendency to think of aspects of life as “transcendent” to life. Why refer to physical phenomenon such as “cells,” and “DNA” as “transcendent” or as “the existence of the transcendental”? Transcending what exactly? Just because absent certain tools one can’t “sense” something, such as “cells” and “DNA,” does not make those aspects of life in any way transcendent to life. Still, it is a point well taken that what we regard as “impossible” is constantly shifting. We might apply this to the “impossibility” of ridding ourselves of such antiquated and destructive constructs as “the doctrine of discovery” and U.S. “plenary power” over Indians nations. Let’s look forward to a time when those ideas are fully repudiated and no longer in operation, a time when our descendents will look back and say, “See, ridding ourselves of those destructive ideas based on an interpretation of Christianity was not impossible after all.”
wanbli's picture
Piqua, your right, so we must act by authentic engagement in the debate to liberate First Nations from Empire: to reform us, to heal us, and then, transform us with our indigenous earth and her consciousness free from the old colonial imperialist greed, prestige, statues, fame, lies, falsehoods of white Americans lusts for violence!
piqua's picture
Well put, Wanbli. Thanks for the post.