A recently approved Southern Baptist Convention resolution condemns the forced assimilation and conversions that took place years ago among Indigenous People.
“When you look at the long history of Southern Baptists, there was not a resolution in our history that ever took a stand with Native American people,” said Mike Keahbone, a Native American who leads a church in Oklahoma.
Keahbone, the pastor of First Baptist Church of Lawton, had proposed that the SBC speak out on the issue. The resolution comes following the release of a federal investigative report that looked into federally funded Native American boarding schools, Christianity Today reports.
The SBC resolution says that forced assimilation and conversion was “contrary to our distinctive beliefs as Baptist in religious liberty and soul-freedom.”
Keahbone was able to serve on the committee that helped draft the 2022 resolution.
“For Native American people, this is opening up a pretty significant wound and one that we’re having to process and work through,” Keahbone said. “Just to be able to say to everyone who was affected by this, to every Native American, to every Alaska native, to every Hawaiian native, ‘We see you, we understand that this is painful, and we want you to know that we’re standing with you.’”
The federal report found that churches helped run more than half of the some 400 federally funded Native American boarding schools. The Catholic, Methodist, Episcopal and Presbyterian denominations were all involved.
“You got to see reports on forced conversion, to go along with the forced assimilation, and it just broke my heart,” Keahbone said. “It turns out that as far as denominations go, Southern Baptists were not named in the report, but I still had a burden on my heart to acknowledge it … I thought that this would be a great opportunity for us to stand as a convention with Native American people in a pretty dark moment in our history.”
Photo courtesy: ©Public Domain/SBC
Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.