The history of the nations has been intermingled with religious ideologies, and rarely in a good way.
I as an indigenous person along with a great many others have at the least some residual anger about that – we don’t appreciate a doctrine of “love” that sought to physically enslave us, support those who felt the solution to the “ndn problem” was genocide, land theft, cultural destruction, or the kidnapping of our children.
I’ve been on several “reservations” across this country and never quite felt comfortable when passing a church, any church, on our land.
I understand there are those among the nations who have accepted various versions of Christianity and believe it is their right to do so no less than it is the right of others to reject it.
I also believe it is an injustice to lump any demographic into a one size fits all, so I have friends who are Christians who I suppose in turn could say they have a friend who is a “heathen”.
I’m convinced that early on conversion was something of a survival mechanism, the thought being a convert might catch a break, might be treated a little better than his “savage” brethren.
The Catholic church and the Latter Day Saints (Mormons) seemed to have possessed a particular zeal for leading us down the path of righteousness even if it required killing us in the bargain.
Mormons held a belief that the nations were a lost of tribe of Israel and they were duty bound to “adopt” our children at an alarming rate.
The historical reality that the Catholic church wanted to hold a monopoly on religion and were willing to torture and wage wars to affect that end felt compelled to issue papal bulls in furtherance of their god given mandate – they were obliged to spread the word at the end of a sword if necessary, violating the core principles and commandments of their book while telling us it was all about salvation, the pearly gates, and a book of life we were excluded from if we didn’t get our act together and do as a man sitting on a throne atop a huge pile of ill gotten treasure across the ocean wearing the shoes of another dictates we should.
Now that’s a difficult sell, difficult enough to require force …….. but then there was that divine mandate to observe that went along the lines of kill the ndn and save the man, or woman and child.
Unchecked religious fervor, zealotry if you prefer, is a dangerous thing breeding an intolerance that has littered the world with dead and mutilated bodies.
That leaves me to wonder if maybe it’s the Black Robes, the protestants, and muslims, who could stand a little proselytizing, who should be concerned about their salvation?
That maybe they haven’t actually received this “word” they promote or if they have failed to fully understand and embrace it.
The above photo was taken in St. Ignatius on the Flathead rez in Montana, the frescoes as the story goes were painted by a priest or “brother” who doubled as the cook.
As art I can appreciate the talent, but I converted the image to b+w believing it to be more representative of the gloomy relationship that has existed between the nations and Christianity.