The mainstream media in America has paid scant attention to the ongoing string of arson attacks on churches in Canada, at least 45 of which have been vandalized or completely destroyed.
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Since the church arsonists in Canada have not been brought to justice, it cannot be said with certain their motive. Given the recent headlines in Canada alleging large numbers of children buried in unmarked graves found at church run schools, many are speculating that is the driving factor.
America may soon be dealing with another string of negative church headlines as well, with calls by American church leaders to look deeper into past sins committed against native American people. The abuses stem from the federal government’s attempt to essentially wipe out native American culture by assimilating them into society, an effort which began nearly 200 years ago.
During the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, as the government forced native Americans further and further west, they became concerned they were running out of land to send them to live on, so they decided to try a new approach.
“Kill the Indian in him, and save the man,” was the mantra they adopted at the time. The goal was to eradicate native American culture, and to do it by forcibly removing children from the reservations and attempt to assimilate them into mainstream American culture. They gave them new names, didn’t allow them to use any of their language, and generally avoided anything that connected their identity to the native American culture. Obviously, the attempt failed. This dark period of government abuse, and the church’s role in assisting, has received little attention over the years.
The Associated Press reported on this yesterday, citing “renewed calls for a reckoning over the traumatic legacy of similar schools in the United States” in the wake of Canada’s investigations. The AP, however, places most of its emphasis on the churches involvement rather than the United States federal government.
From the AP:
The discoveries of hundreds of unmarked graves at former residential schools for Indigenous children in Canada have prompted renewed calls for a reckoning over the traumatic legacy of similar schools in the United States — and in particular by the churches that operated many of them.
U.S. Catholic and Protestant denominations operated more than 150 boarding schools between the 19th and 20th centuries. Native American and Alaskan Native children were regularly severed from their tribal families, customs, language and religion and brought to the schools in a push to assimilate and Christianize them.
Some U.S. churches have been reckoning with this activity for years through ceremonies, apologies and archival investigations, while others are just getting started. Some advocates say churches have more work to do in opening their archives, educating the public about what was done in the name of their faith and helping former students and their relatives tell their stories of family trauma.
AP focused on the churches even though the United States Office of Indian Affairs in 1891 authorized the creation of rules and regulations that allowed them to enforce compulsory school attendance of “Indian children of suitable age”.
The office described it as “for their benefit”.
Parents were imprisoned if they objected to having their kids removed from their homes to be “assimilated”, as happened in California.
According to The Equal Justice Initiative, “On January 3, 1895, nineteen leaders from the Hopi tribe were imprisoned on Alcatraz Island, a prison in the San Francisco Bay, on charges of sedition for opposing the U.S. government’s program of forced education and assimilation.”
While roles the church played in these abhorrent “assimilation” efforts warrant recognition and repentance, the US Government’s role in leading the charge should not be ignored or swept under the rug, either.
Continue to pray the arsonist(s) in Canada are brought to justice, and that no similar vandalism occurs at American churches.
No suspects have been brought to justice to date on the church burnings in Canada, despite video footage of one attempt to set a church on fire.
CBN and Faithwire will update the story in both Canada and here in America as it develops.