In 1493, Pope Alexander VI issued an edict defining the Doctrine of Discovery. This Doctrine explicitly states that European Christians have the right to dominate and subdue any non-Christians and non-white peoples they “encounter” among other issues surrounding the conquest of the people of the Americas.
The Doctrines declares that Christians, and only white (and Catholic) Christians, are free to conquer these people by any means necessary with the full blessing of God, church, and king.
Are we still seeing traces of this in our society today? How does this relate to the assertions being made about Critical Race Theory? If people learn about the real history of America, all the efforts made to “civilize” this country, to have dominion over anyone that is not a white Christian European, will be revealed. While the actions taken by the people who founded this country, as well as other Europeans who were out to “civilize” the rest of the world, were considered proper at the time, the lack of remorse and regret shown by conservative Christians today is reprehensible. Why can we not talk about what really happened?
No one alive today is responsible for those actions. We are, however, responsible for our own actions. Many white Christians believe they have been blessed by God and are thus entitled to dominion over everything. Their goal is to make everyone a Christian, or at least to live under laws based on their beliefs. They do not want us to examine our history, what was done to people in the name of civilization and Christianity. They want to maintain a fantasy that our country is innocent of any wrongdoing, then and now.
We must face the truth. The unexamined facts of our history are the basis of many ethical mistakes in our governance. We make it harder for people to vote, especially people of color. We enact legislation that restricts civil rights under the guise of religious freedom. If I claim my religion objects to something, anything, I do not have to obey the laws of the land. I can discriminate all I want. I can even receive government assistance to run a social service agency and refuse to help someone that is not of the same faith as me.
While the population of white evangelicals is declining, the damage that their influence is causing is enormous. It will be in effect for many years to come and cause great pain and suffering in our country. If we do not study our history, if we do not see how we got to where we are, we are going to continue to make the same mistakes, we will continue to hurt people and cause great pain to segments of our population.
The reason for this is because they vote in greater percentages than other groups. The reason so many states are making it very difficult for poor people to vote is to postpone the inevitable. The philosophy proclaimed in the Doctrine of Discovery has lost its grip on the world.
How do we fix this? Along with educating ourselves about our history, we must find ways to broaden our democracy by ensuring as many people as possible vote. We must nullify the anti-voting legislation currently proposed by the republican party.
Democracy is finally the expression of the human family writ large.