The Bible in Schools

Mitakuye Oyasin

The Mayor of Peoria thinks that teaching the Bible in public schools will help elevate the morals of the students. In an attempt to keep it from seeming like a religious push, he explained that it would be taught as part of history or literature.

Native Americans were introduced to the Bible without any concerns on the part of government to separate church and state. It was shoved down our throats, force-fed, by religious bigots whose interest in saving the souls of my ancestors was generously mixed with stealing lands for the benefit of Christian, white settlers.

Historians love to point to the Colonial era as one of "God-fearing leaders," founding a nation on "religious principles." Native Americans and African Americans don't quite see it that way.

Take a look at America's history through the eyes of those who lived it on the down side.

When the first refugees from northern Europe landed on Turtle Island, they were not looking for a shorter route to India, (like Columbus), or for gold and silver mines, (like the Spaniards). They came in search of religious freedom and a new life for themselves. They achieved this by taking away the land, stamping out the cultures, killing off the resistors, and destroying the freedom of the Native inhabitants of the land. And then they dragged along boatloads of slaves from Africa to work for them.

Thus began the introduction to Native Americans and unwilling Africans the illogical nature of the white man from Europe. Did I say illogical? These people knew the Bible, and somewhere in its passages they found the phrases to justify the rape of non-whites whenever it suited them.

A minister had just finished reading the Bible and preaching a sermon to a group of Seneca Indians when Red Jacket rose to speak: "Brother! We are told that you have been preaching to the white people in this place. These people are our neighbors. We are acquainted with them. We will wait a little while and see what effect your preaching has upon them. If we find it does them good and makes them honest and less disposed to cheat us, we will then consider again becoming Christians."

They never had to "consider again becoming Christians."

Is it any wonder? In the thousands of years that Native Americans inhabited Turtle Island, they encountered every imaginable difficulty in trying to keep life and limb together. Starvation, disease, wild animals, freezing cold, crop loss, warring tribes and drought were all part of the life cycle for them. But in all those thousands of years, they never encountered anything as destructive to them as the Bible-toting white men from Europe.

And now the Mayor of Peoria thinks the Bible will elevate the morals of students. Yet surely the Bible is present in Concordia Lutheran School, at least in the library. But its presence did not seem to help the librarian who, this week, was arrested for raping a 14-year-old boy.

And you can't blame the liberals, the Blacks, the Indians or the welfare recipients for this.

This article posted to Zephyr online September 19, 1997
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