Christianity, the Other, and the Holocaust

By Michael R. Steele | Go to book overview

5
Contact with
Indigenous Peoples

“The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. The Lord may give the
earth or any part of it to his chosen people. We are his chosen people.”

—New England assembly, 1640s

“Colonialism cannot be understood without the possibility of torturing, rap-
ing and killing.”

—Frantz Fanon

“It begins to look as if, through shame or fear of being racist, the West will
not admit to having been so at any time.”

—Léon Poliakov

“The Anglo-Europeans who came here had one goal: the destruction of life
… one of the best ways I know to discover purpose is to examine outcome.”

—Paula Gunn Allen

Before the ships carrying Christopher Columbus and his crews were first seen by the indigenous peoples of the Americas, the destinies of the natives had already been declared in a variety of texts. The words, written in a dead language the targeted people could not possibly have known, inscribed theological concepts of dominion that were entirely alien to them. Boniface VIII’s 1302 papal bull, Unam Sanctum, asserted the pontiff’s absolute right to dominion: “that to be submitted to the Roman pontiff is for any creature a necessity for salvation.”1 In stark contrast to this, the Wintu people of California reportedly had no words with which to express “personal dominion and coercion…. so foreign were those concepts to their way of life.”2 Pope Nicolas V issued a papal bull, Komanns Pontifex, in 1454 that seemed to reach the logical extension of the 1302 position. It denies non-Christians the right to their own possessions, and gives to the Portuguese the right to invade and conquer the lands of non-Christians, force their expulsion, vanquish them, enslave them, and “expropriate their possessions” (actions to be taken against “pagans and all other enemies of Christ wheresoever placed”).3

-59-

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Christianity, the Other, and the Holocaust
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Series Foreword vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction xi
  • 1 - Culture Studies, Christianity, and the Holocaust 1
  • 2 - Christianity as Rome’s Chosen Religion 17
  • 3 - The Crusades 31
  • 4 - The Inquisition 41
  • 5 - Contact with Indigenous Peoples 59
  • 6 - Slavery 81
  • 7 - The Holocaust 93
  • Conclusion 121
  • Notes 137
  • Selected Bibliography 161
  • Index 175
  • About the Author 185
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