An Anglican Shares Reflections On The Canadian Catholic Churches That Have Been Burned

burning structure building house church shed hall barn room

In an attempt to bring some balance to the hotly debated issue of the motivation behind the burning of Catholic churches in Canada where unmarked graves of First Nations children were discovered, an anonymous Anglican wrote an entry on Reddit about his thoughts on why the burning of churches was wrong and what Christians should also understand in the wake of the controversy.

According to The Guardian, almost two dozen churches have been destroyed or set on fire, with eight of those incidents occurring in indigenous territory.

The burning of churches began following the uncovering of approximately 1,500 burial sites, reports Loudwire.

On Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated that the discovery of the graves of native children from three former Indian residential schools are understandably horrifying, but it does not justify the destructive action.

Indigenous elders have also reportedly intervened, joining government authorities in pleading that the old structures be spared, despite the indignation at the discovery. Perry Bellegarde, the national leader of the Assembly of First Nations, said on Wednesday that channeling that sorrow into the destruction of churches would not bring about justice for the indigenous people.

Following all these, an Anglican who claims to have been blogging on residential schools over the past couple of weeks felt compelled to provide a social and theological commentary. His analysis was in two parts.

There's nothing to gain in burning churches

He argued that arson against a church is unacceptable because it is a hate crime, comparable to destroying a mosque, a synagogue, a Hindu or Buddhist temple, a Sikh Gurdwara, or a place of worship of any other faith.

He went on to mention that several of the churches that were set on fire were in fact built and currently run by First Nations people, thus considered Indigenous churches. He said that in the view of the majority of First Nations people in Canada, Christianity is their religion. Therefore, First Nations Chiefs are denouncing this as harmful and counterproductive.

What Christians must learn and internalize

The Reddit poster underlined the significance of what happened in the past because the systemic attempt to extinct an entire race was an act of crime against humanity. It cannot be denied that there are at least 150,000 innocent children who have been removed from their homes and sent to these so-called "schools," where they have been subjected to violence and abuse, as well as attempts to "kill the Indian" within through whippings if they speak their native language.

"When we meditate on the scope of this genocide and crime against humanity we must take the perspective that human life is more important that church property," the blogger wrote.

Taking a theological perspective on this, the writer observed that in view of the historical injustices committed in the name of Christianity, religious leaders of all Christian denominations, including the Pope, have been slow to respond to the call for repentance. He added that this is also true for the country's elected officials, both at the federal and state levels.

"Repentance means confessing to the crimes committed," he said. "It means matching your confessions with your deeds in order to rectify the crimes committed. And so far government and Church have been a failure."

To emphasize his argument, he described what happened in the Old Testament's Temple, when priests and the people within defiled God's sacred sanctuary by slaughtering infants and young children. God became so angry that the book of Malachi writes, "And now O priests, this command is for you. If you will not listen, if you will not lay it to heart to give glory to my name says the Lord of hosts, then I will send the curse on you and I will curse your blessings; indeed I have already cursed them because you do not lay it to heart. I will rebuke you to your offspring, and spread dung on your faces, the dung of your offerings, and I will put you out of my presence"(Malachi 2:1-3).

As a final note, religious congregations that describe themselves as Christian must not hesitate to face the unpleasant parts of their histories. Denying that atrocities ever occurred is detrimental to the Gospel's work in ministering healing to the global indigenous populations.