December 29, 2006

Movies and missionaries vs. Natives

Mel’s Merry Messianic Movie Missionaries:  An Analysis of Apocalypto and Other Silver Screen Savagery

By Tim MitchellWith evangelicals looking to share the gospel with those who keep kooky religious company, it would seem that Christian evangelists are looking to ‘save’ nature-based indigenous tribal religious groups through proselytization while working to save the environment, with stereotypes from films such as Apocalypto and End of the Spear convincing them of the righteousness of such intentions. On this particular issue, some environmental groups have addressed the impact of religious conversion on the environment in some of its literature, such as the World Conservation Union’s report, "Protecting Sacred Natural Sites of Indigenous and Traditional Peoples: an IUCN Perspective":

Many traditional sacred natural sites have been appropriated or destroyed because they were considered pagan or idolatrous by newly emerging world faiths. In some instances religious buildings were forcefully superimposed upon traditional sites. While it is important to guard against ‘demonising’ the involvement of major faiths with indigenous and traditional peoples, it is important to acknowledge that the erosion of sacred natural sites can be directly related to the expansion of the dominant faiths in many cases.
Mitchell's conclusion:Mayan activist and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Rigoberta Menchu Tum once said, "We are not myths of the past, ruins in the jungle, or zoos. We are people and we want to be respected, not to be victims of intolerance and racism." To respect the people and faiths of the present, we must stop creating and accepting false, self-serving depictions of the past.

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