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American Christianity and Native Americans: Steps Toward Healing Churches from a Destructive Legacy
with Dr. Scott M. Langston
Saturday, March 23, 2024
9:00 am to 2:00 pm CDT
Northway Christian Church, Dallas, TX

In 1972, the Standing Rock Sioux scholar, Vine Deloria, Jr., wrote an open letter to the heads of the Christian churches of America. He briefly recounted the central role played by American Christianity in the colonization and genocide of Indigenous peoples. Asserting that our political institutions no longer serve us because our religious institutions have not called them to "a greater vision of humanity," he asked, "At what point can we (i.e., Native Americans) become men and not mere appendages of the Christian Doctrine of Discovery?" In the fifty-one years since Deloria's letter, American Christianity seems to have done little to address its destructive legacy. We will explore how American Christianity created this ongoing legacy through actions such as its framing of history, terminology choices, missionary activities, selective uses and suppression of biblical texts, and partnerships with governments. We will collaboratively seek to understand why Christians and their churches must heal from their legacy and how they might begin to do so in positive ways.

Dr. Scott M. Langston is Texas Christian University's Native American Nations and Communities Liaison and recently retired faculty member in the Religion Department, having taught at TCU for nearly twenty years. He has published extensively on the reception history of the biblical books of Exodus and Joshua, especially the role these texts have played in relations between Europeans, Americans, and Native Americans. In 2022, TCU awarded him its Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Award for his work with Native American and Indigenous communities. In 2023, TCU's Race and Reconciliation Initiative made him a co-recipient of its Plume Award for his work in establishing and sustaining TCU's Native American and Indigenous Peoples initiative. Langston is a past president of the Southern Jewish Historical Society, current board member of the Texas Jewish Historical Society, and the current editor for the Primary Sources section of the journal, Southern Jewish History.

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