“How can modern Christianity have so solemnly folded its hands while so much of the work of God was and is being destroyed?” Wendell Berry
Christian interpretations of scripture that support domination of the earth solely for human profit and hierarchical views that place some human beings above others have caused immeasurable harm. Not only has much of modern Christianity solemnly folded its hands while creation is degraded and destroyed, but also while our brothers and sisters are exploited and abused.
Fortunately, there are other strands of Christianity that are focused on justice, peace, and the healing of creation. There are also a growing number of denominations that are taking actions of repentance for past harm, making amends, and taking seriously the call to act as responsible members of the interrelated and interconnected community of life.
I’m leaving this morning for Standing Rock. I’ll post again soon. First I want to catch up with what’s going on related to people of faith acting in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux tribe of North Dakota. The tribe is trying to block the Dakota Access Pipeline, which would cross under the Missouri River, threatening the water of millions of people. Thousands of people have travelled to Standing Rock, including members of over 500 tribes. Many are camping there. Hundreds of people have been arrested trying to stop the pipeline, and solidarity actions have been taking place around the world.
Last Wednesday, November 2, I was among several faith leaders who responded to an invitation to attend a demonstration in Auburn, California, in support of the water protectors in Standing Rock. It included song, drums, spoken word, and a sending-off ceremony for people who were on their way to Standing Rock. At the time, I knew I’d be going but I didn’t know when. As the elder called down a blessing on me and on the people I would leave behind as I travelled, I felt clarity that it was time. By that evening, I had announced I would go with my friends, who are leaving today. I’m leaving with them.
Last Thursday, November 3, over 500 clergy travelled to Standing Rock, in response to an invitation from the tribe, to stand in solidarity with the people there. I shed tears when I learned that one of their actions was to burn a copy of the Doctrine of Discovery, a doctrine through which the Roman Catholic Church gave Christian explorers the right to claim for their monarchs any lands that they “discovered.” Indigenous peoples inhabiting the lands might be spared if they converted to Christianity; otherwise they could be driven off the land, enslaved, or killed. Missionaries were complicit in this colonization project. In 1823, the Doctrine of Discovery was adopted into U.S. law. It was referenced in a Supreme Court ruling as recently as 2005.
Several denominations, including my own, have held services acknowledging and repenting for Christianity’s past complicity in colonization, forced conversions, assimilation, and genocide of Indigenous peoples. If we who are Christian intend to make amends and be reconciled with our Indigenous brothers and sisters, a big step forward is to support them in their current struggles to protect their treaty rights and the rights of the earth, and to learn from them about the value and interconnectedness of all parts of creation. By doing so, we honor creation and work for justice in our time.
Follow Sharon’s blog by clicking the “Follow Sharon Delgado” button at the right or by “liking” the Shaking the Gates of Hell Facebook page.
More about Standing Rock:
Official website and place to donate to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
Facebook page: Standing Rock Sioux Facebook page.
Democracy Now is covering this action on a daily basis.
More about the Dakota Access Pipeline.