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‘Old’ principle in action

Theodore Roosevelt wrote in his best-selling book about the history of the American West, “Many of the best of the backwoodsmen were Bible-readers. They looked at their foes as the Hebrew prophets looked at the enemies of Israel. What were the abominations because of which the Canaanites were destroyed before Joshua, when compared with the abominations of the red savages whose lands they, another chosen people, should in their turn inherit?”

Americans found the idea that they were God’s new Israel, so attractive because it helped justify their partial destruction and total subjugation of the indigenous peoples of the New World.

The indigenous peoples of the New World were viewed by the founders of the United States as new Canaanites of the new Land of Canaan, a promised inheritance and everlasting possession, for some new “chosen people” – white Euro-American Christians, who were to treat (to some extent) the new Canaanites (this lands’ indigenous peoples) the way the Israelites treated the Canaanites when they invaded and took possession of their homelands.

In Matthew 5:38-39 Jesus is quoted as saying, “Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” In the New Testament, Jesus gave his followers some new principles to follow.

White European Christian colonists, and then later, white Euro-American Christians, followed (to some extent) the Old Testament principle “kill everything that breathes” when they invade and took possession of the Native Americans’ homelands. And most white Euro-American Christians still have not repented. Are they asking that the Natives’ lands and sovereign rights be returned to them? They are still following a nullified Old Testament principle and wrongly justify their and their ancestors’ evil, war-mongering ways by comparing them with what the ancient Israelites did to the Canaanites, while following an Old Testament principle.



– Thomas Dahlheimer

Wahkon, Minn.