My brother(s) have begun a little campaign (which I am backing) concerning a certain idea about the missionary mindset in Aboriginal communities (started by a certain pastor and his mindset). Which couldn’t of happened at a weirder time for me – I just had it out with 2 managers of mine at work about ‘what seems to be vast cultural differences’ and the way we view ourselves. That being said, I stood my ground for self-respect and now see my brothers doing the same (on a somewhat larger scale).
My older brother has been somewhat harrassed by a local church pastor about his son (who attends a church school there). The incidences seem to involve a syatematic picking on of his children for not following the cultural norms of the school (ex: hair length). One of his sons was booted for accusations of pornography and for ‘long hair’ (which were unfounded and without proof). Now the second son is feeling the heat for that (it seems) – he was picked out of a whole service and made to feel ashamed for his ‘haircut’ and said to not ‘be listening’ (again accusations without ground and made the kid feel such shame). The real problem in this is these kids are Aboriginal and ‘long hair’ is a sign of pride in our culture (something we see a right to do).
This was later followed by that pastor calling my older brother’s wife and calling them bad parents – for the 2 kids more or less. Needless to say, you know what attitude happened next (anger). The pastor apparently never stopped there and went on to blame my younger brother for being a parapalegic on his choices and the ‘he brought this on himself’. Top that off, I also had a sister who just went through a divorce at that church and was judged very extremely by that congregation there – and her kids attended that church school only to hear ‘un-truths’ about their mother. Add this all up and you have the systematic damaging of one family – that one being mine.
My younger brother is now writing letters to a group that supports that church and is questioning the very tactics of the faith they use towards Aboriginal people (and with these incidences at his side – he has some good reason to be skeptical). He uses much more militant language than I do but makes his point very clear – calling that church to account what they are doing. He has a meeting with these church funders later this week (unbelievably they granted him some time to hear his case).
I don’t usually make a stand for anything but this time I am asked to search my conscience on the issue and I have heard the stories first-hand – and they are not heart-warming in the least. What seems to be at the core of the issue is European views and Aboriginal one’s regarding the teachings of the faith (at least this is the case being made by my younger & older brother). I agree they are onto something. I can’t quite recall when this particular church has ever built the esteem of the Aboriginal peoples they ‘preach’ to in regards to history, culture, community, and family. It’s a real sad state of affiars that one un-accountable pastor cannot find the reality to humble himself and make things right (and maybe even being some cultural training about the people he thinks he is a missionary to).
The real odd thing is – this is the same pastor I wrote that letter of thanks to (concerning my time spent under his tutolage as a youth) – yet he can’t find the heart to do the same for my family? I find that extremely sad. But I will continue to hear this story out and defend my family with all their faults and their faith (of which we all share in common) – only on the issues of accountability and cultural identity of this inner-city church. I can’t help but think why this pastor to the inner-city has pushed away so many Aboriginal peoples he has worked with (and this possibly un-intentionally)?
In the end, I want a total halt to the superiority of some ‘European’ view on the faith and find equality for the Aboriginal view of it. This mentality may have worked in times past but those days are now past – and now we need to grow up. Maybe this endeavor will spark just that – a re-birth of the Aboriginal giving to the faith and how there is nothing wrong with viewing it through our experiences (which oddly enough was horrendously oppressed by Churches and the gov’t in Canada through years of documented school-churches/institutions). One can hope that it will get more respect and value the views of the Aboriginal in the faith.