National Assn. of Evangelicals Slams US Genocide of Native Americans, Racist Policies in Guide Update

A pair of young Native American dancers stand together during the opening "grand entry" to start the Oglala Nation Pow Wow and Rodeo in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, August 4, 2006. The annual festival is a bright spot for the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, which struggles with high unemployment and problems with substance abuse and gangs and is one of the poorest communities in the United States. | (Photo: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)

The National Association of Evangelicals says the U.S. government has much to apologize for, such as the "genocide against Native Americans" and "the exploitation of immigrants and the descendants of slaves," in its updated public policy guide. 

"The foundational truth in 'For the Health of the Nation' is that all people are made in the image of God. Each principle in the document flows from that truth. Our hope is that this guide will help those of shared faith work together to bless others in the public square," NAE President Leith Anderson said in a statement on Monday.

While the original "For the Health of the Nation" guide was adopted in 2004, a new revised version was adopted earlier this year, and published on Monday, to address the "shifting American context."

The guide focuses on eight principles of Christian political engagement, starting with the importance of protecting religious freedom and liberty of conscience.

When it comes to safeguarding the nature and sanctity of human life, it warns that there is a "pandemic of extramarital sex" that leads to complex issues surrounding contraception.

"The Church is understandably reluctant to recommend contraception for unmarried sexual partners, given that it cannot condone extramarital sex. However, it is even more tragic when unmarried individuals compound one sin by then destroying the precious gift of life," the guide states.

Next, it calls for the strengthening of marriages, families, and children. It defines marriage as a "lifetime covenantal relationship between one man and one woman," calling it a "normative biblical symbol of God's relationship with His people."

The guide also insists that it celebrates single men and women who "often dedicate themselves to vocations that bless the church and the world."

In the fourth principle, the document points to Jesus Christ's ministry for why seeking justice and compassion for the poor and vulnerable is so important.

"God identifies with the poor and says that those who 'are kind to the poor lend to the Lord' while those who oppress the poor 'show contempt for their Maker' (Psalm 146:5–9; Proverbs 19:17, 14:31). Jesus said that those who do not care for the needy and the imprisoned demonstrate by such lack of action that they are not his followers (Matthew 25:31–46)," it states.

"The vulnerable include not only the poor, but those with less power, such as women, children, the aged, persons with disabilities, immigrants, refugees, minorities, the persecuted, prisoners and victims of human trafficking."

The NAE policy document moves on to preserving human rights, and urges U.S. foreign policy to employ sanctions against nations that abuse or deny such rights.

"Because the Creator gave human beings free will, religious liberty — including the right to change one's religion — is foundational and must be respected by governments and societies," it states.

In the section on pursuing racial justice and reconciliation, the NAE argues that the church, and the U.S. government, have much to apologize for.

"The United States has a tragic history of genocide against Native Americans, the cruel practice of enslaving Africans, and the unjust segregation and exploitation of immigrants and the descendants of slaves," it writes.

"While the United States has made significant strides toward legal and social equality in principle, the legacy of racism and implicit racial bias still leaves many Native Americans, African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Hispanics and other ethnic minorities vulnerable to a variety of social ills."

The guide then urges evangelicals to promote justice, peace and restrain from violence. It asks followers of Jesus to pray for and offer constructive criticism of government leaders.

Finally, it says that Christians must care for God's creation.

"Climate change is a threat multiplier. It increases the harm from desertification, pollution and other damage to creation. It especially impacts the poorest of God's children in the world. Food and water insecurity and vector-borne diseases force migrations, increase conflicts and make daily life more challenging in the developing world," it warns.

Follow Stoyan Zaimov on Facebook: CPSZaimov

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