NCC Condemns Columbus’ ‘Invasion’ of New World

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

The National Council of Churches, ending a three-day meeting here Friday, voted to condemn Christopher Columbus’ “invasion” of the New World in 1492.

A celebration is “not an appropriate observation of this anniversary,” the council’s governing board, representing 32 denominations with 42 million members, said. The resolution, approved after more than two hours of debate, cites “genocide, slavery, ‘ecocide’ and exploitation of the wealth of the land” as the bitter fruit inherited by “the descendants of the survivors of the . . . invasion.”

“The church, with few exceptions, accompanied and legitimized this exploitation,” the council added.

The resolution, “A Faithful Response to the 500th Anniversary of the Arrival of Christopher Columbus,” was proposed by the Rev. George Tinker, an Osage Indian who teaches at the Illif School of Theology in Denver.


“The only thing Columbus really discovered was that he was lost,” Tinker said. “American people have so digested the myth of American history that they have lost sight of the truth--the pain of so many people who live on the continent.”

The resolution is intended to influence next year’s official yearlong celebrations marking the 500th anniversary of Columbus’ fleet reaching the Caribbean islands.

An attempt by Episcopal Bishop David Reed of Louisville, Ky., to soften the resolution failed.

“Many of us find it hard to state that this is not a time for celebration,” Reed told the 220 board members. “There have been so many things over the past 500 years to thank God for.”

Joseph D’Andrea, the vice consul of Italy in Pittsburgh, said he understood the intent of the resolution but thought the anniversary should celebrate “the spirit of America” and its accomplishments rather than dwell on the landing’s negative effects.

But the church council noted that “theological justifications for destroying native religious beliefs while forcing conversion to European forms of Christianity demanded a submission from the newly converted that facilitated their total conquest.”