(/sites/default/files/uploads/2012/05/bishop-katharine-pronounces-the-blessing-after-yesterday-s-eucharist_articleimage.gif)Officers of left-leaning, declining churches that no longer evangelize or believe in their own doctrines often have plenty of time to attend tedious secular meetings, such as the 11th session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII).
In early May, Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori was there at the UN in New York to join in the mournful gabfest over the ostensibly lamentable “Doctrine of Discovery.” The international bureaucrats were focused on “Discovery’s” enduring “impact on indigenous peoples and the right to redress for past conquests.” The main sin for which redress is apparently needed is Western Civilization’s global reach.
Evidently Bishop Schori could not deliver all her thoughts at the UN session, so she later issued her own “Pastoral Letter on the Doctrine of Discovery and Indigenous Peoples.” Perhaps small numbers of elderly Episcopalians, if still awake in their pews, will listen to at least part of it.
Schori gloomily recalled centuries of brutal global conquest by Europeans professing to be Christian. Armed with “religious warrants, papal bulls which permitted and even encouraged the subjugation and permanent enslavement of any non-Christian peoples they encountered,” these savage conquerors achieved “wholesale slaughter, rape, and enslavement of indigenous peoples in the Americas, as well as in Africa, Asia, and the islands of the Pacific, and the African slave trade was based on these same principles.” In their wake followed “death, dispossession, and enslavement,” then “rapid depopulation [from]…epidemic disease.”
Of course, neither Bishop Schori nor the United Nations bureaucrats are interested in merely a history lesson. They want justice and redress. After all, the “ongoing dispossession of indigenous peoples” results from oppressive “legal systems” in the “’developed world,’” as Bishop Schori carefully put in quotations, that base land ownership on “religious warrants for colonial occupation from half a millennium ago.”
So essentially, Bishop Schori would like to undo the last 500 years of land ownership and wealth accumulation in the Western Hemisphere and elsewhere tainted by Western imperialism. After all, the “dispossession of First Peoples continues to wreak havoc on basic human dignity.” These mystical First Peoples are still “grieving their loss of identity, lifeways, and territory.” And “all humanity should be grieving” with them. Without irony, Schori cited Old Testament prophetic justice, which came from the ancient Hebrew conquerors of the Canaanites and other “First Peoples.”
Of course, Schori focused on grievous sins against the First Peoples of the United States, emphasizing the Episcopal Church’s long solidarity with them, while briefly citing her predecessor’s apology in 1997 for the “enormities that began with the colony in Jamestown.” She emphasized: “Today our understanding of mission has changed.” Indeed. Unlike the old missionaries, today’s Episcopal elites stress “healing” among people, and with the earth, while “reversing structural and systemic injustice,” of which there is so much. She even cited Episcopal Church support for the “Violence Against Women Act” currently before Congress.
Today, Bishop Schori earnestly explained, the Episcopal Church is busily at work “dismantling the structures and policies based on that ancient evil” of “Discovery,” while touting “self-determination for indigenous peoples” globally. And the denomination is determined to revoke the “legacy of colonial occupation and policies of domination.”
It’s almost a cliché that declining leftist-led denominations that want to avoid repenting their own sins prefer to spotlight the sins, real and imagined, of their purportedly corrupt ancestors. It’s smugness packaged as humility. But Bishop Schori’s attendance at the UN gathering of the totalitarian sounding UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues no doubt was symbolically appropriate.
The UN forum’s website describes an ongoing project staffed by numerous apparatchiks and no doubt costing untold millions, hosting meetings populated by professional, global left-wing activists who traffic full-time in the politics of grievance and compensation. Fortunately few are bothering to listen to the UN forum, any more than typically heed the Episcopal Church’s politics. The main tragedy is the wasted dollars that might otherwise meet genuine human need.
Beyond the professional activists, who ostensibly benefits from the endless reparations advocated by UN bureaucrats and religious leftists such as Bishop Schori? The vast majority of so-called “First Peoples” in the Western Hemisphere over the last 500 years have intermarried and born children with their European colonizers and countless others who have immigrated to the Americas. Tens of millions today can trace their ancestry to the much discussed “First Peoples.” They mostly live comfortably in the vastly more wealthy new civilization that was constructed together by a myriad of ethnicities.
Of course, this history of natives and colonizers together creating new societies that surpass the old disrupts the preferred narrative of chronic victimization whose only solution is political atonement through massive wealth redistribution. The real goal of the UN bureaucracy and activists like Bishop Schori is not helping long oppressed “First Peoples” but critiquing and dismantling Western institutions, chiefly capitalism, along with representative democracy. In reality, the professional peddlers of historical grievance don’t trust “First Peoples” or second peoples or the common people anywhere. They instead aspire to centralized power primarily for themselves.
Bishop Schori may dream of an Episcopal Church again relevant thanks to her favored political crusades. But thankfully, few outside of UN special forums are heeding her sermons.
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