Religion is one of the key factors that influence the norms and cultures in societies around the world. Even though many religious foundations are grounded on offering positive influence on society, the presence of many religious and spiritual groups has led to conflicts. Among the many religions present, Christianity stands out as the most prominent religion globally. For a very long time, Christianity has been trying to garner more followers in different parts of the world. The recent trends show that Christians have been aiming regions that the religion has not been well accepted. One of these areas is the region inhabited by the Native Americans such as in South Dakota, USA.
In an article on Aljazeera written by Stephen Starr titled “‘As long as you love Jesus’: The battle for Pine Ridge’s children,” the author explores the reason behind why many Christian missionaries have settled in the Native American reservation and the perception of the residents regarding the missionaries’ presence in their region. Despite the fact that Christian missionaries and churches hold a grim place in the historical consciousness of the Native American community, there has also been a history of cultural cleansing and abuse. During the 1800s, schools were set up and managed by religious orders with the intention of incorporating the Native American children into the culture of Christianity. However, a major problem that has brought conflict is the attempts by the Christian missionaries to destroy the Native Americans’ connections to their culture, families, language, and traditions (Starr, N.p). For nearly a whole century, the Native Americans’ children were taken from their families and sent to one of the boarding schools either in the US or Canada. The situation is even considered worse since the children were not treated well in those boarding schools. There are reports indicating that the children were abused in different ways such as neglect, starvation, physical, emotional, and even sexual abuse. As a result, many Native American children did not survive these schools, some ran away while others died (Starr, N.p).
Regardless of the fact that there have been many years of cultural cleansing and abuse within the Christian community, many children within the Native American communities still find themselves in the hands of the Christian missionaries even in the present moment. The author details that despite the unethical and illegal issues that continue within the Native American culture, many Christian missionaries do not see their actions as something wrong. On the other hand, the Native Americans have grown to accept the presence of Christians in the community and seem not to be bothered. However, there are still instances of abuse and forceful cultural change imposed by the Christian missionaries among the Native Americans (Starr, N.p). There is evidence showing that the missionaries force Native American children to practice the Christian religion. This is proof that unethical means of influencing change and assimilation into different religions has been there for a long time and it’s still practiced at the moment.
In conclusion, religion has always had a lot of influence on cultures across the world. However, there are moments whereby illegal and unethical means are employed to assimilate people. It is wrong to disconnect people from their religions, culture, and traditions in order to lure them into Christianity.
Starr, S., 2020. ‘As Long As You Love Jesus’: The Battle For Pine Ridge’S Children. [online] Aljazeera.com. Available at: <https://www.aljazeera.com/features/2020/10/21/the-battle-for-pine-ridges-children> [Accessed 9 November 2020].