Mark Charles

March 26, 2019

Native American Activist: “Promised Land is Authority to Commit Genocide”

During a recent lecture, Native American activist Mark Charles managed to denounce his usual suspects—the Doctrine of Discovery, the U.S. Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and U.S. exceptionalism—while adding to his list of systemic racism, Israel-U.S. relations, the idea of “Promised Land,” and of course, the American Church.

Charles accused the U.S. and Israel of having a “dysfunctional, co-dependent relationship that has almost nothing to do with equality, freedom, or justice,” blasted the narrative of Promised Land as “authority to commit genocide,” and considered calling the Church to “lament its sin of slavery, genocide, mass incarceration, and everything else.” And all within 40 minutes!

Charles made his provocative comments on March 20 before an audience of young divinity students during a lecture series, called Mosaic Gathering, and hosted by Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (TEDS) in Deerfield, Illinois. The divinity school is part of Trinity International University and historically rooted in the Swedish Evangelical Free Church.

The Mosaic Gathering is a weekly on-campus event housed under the divinity school’s “diversity initiative”. Invited guest speakers explore issues of race and reconciliation “under the biblical vision of reconciliation with prayer, biblical reflections, and social analysis,” according to the TEDS web site.

Enter Charles and his Mosaic lecture titled, “Whose Blood Covers Systemic, Corporate Sin?”

IRD readers are likely familiar with Charles’ theory on the Doctrine of Discovery’s connection with what he calls “the buried history of the United States.” (If not, IRD contributor Derryck Green offers an excellent retort here.)

IRD President Mark Tooley addressed Charles’ claim that the U.S. Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution are “systemically racist” at the 2016 Justice Conference, where he also told his young Evangelical audience that “Everything you own is stolen” (You can read Tooley’s response here).

Most recently, IRD intern Joshua Arnold responded to Charles’ incendiary criticisms of Abraham Lincoln and Christian Europe here.

For this blog post, I’d like to focus on the comments Charles made regarding Israel and the narrative of Promised Land.

Charles begins by citing a speech Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu delivered before the U.S. Congress in March 2015, in which Netanyahu recognizes a shared “common destiny, the destiny of promised lands that cherish freedom and offer hope.”

Charles then charges both nations of co-opting Old Testament language to justify their past and present oppressive behavior. “It’s about justifying oppression,” Charles asserted. “Promised Land is authority to commit genocide.”

“We need Israel’s Old Testament legacy of Promised Land to justify what we did to Native Americans and Africans,” Charles declared. “The modern nation-state of Israel needs our flourishing as a nation with a manifest destiny to justify what they are doing to Palestinians and Bedouins.”

Interestingly, Charles was quick to paint Israel as an oppressor while failing to provide practical solutions for how the modern nation-state should protect its borders from terrorist regimes like Hamas in Gaza. He also failed to mention that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East committed to promoting religious freedom, freedom of speech, and women’s rights.

More importantly, he denounced the American Church for co-opting the language of Promised Land as an attempt to “cover its systemic multi-generational and corporate sin” through the “lie of American exceptionalism” which is “rooted in the lie of white supremacy and allows us to claim this false narrative of Promised Land.”

He then called on the American Church to reject the “heresy of Christian empire” because “we have a different barometer as followers of Jesus Christ.”

The challenge in responding to the disjointed comments made by Charles is that he cleverly pivots between mentions of the nation-state and the Church. In one moment, he denounces the United States’ foreign relations with Israel, but then in the next breath berates the American Church for seemingly the same flaws.

He is right that the Church has a different barometer than, say, the government. Agreed, the Church’s purpose is not land, nor prosperity. By no means do I mean to justify the sins of America’s past. But does the state not have a duty to protect its borders and citizens? He never mentions what the nation-state should commit itself, besides apologizing. I suspect he would answer “seek justice,” which is citing Micah chapter 6 verse 8. And what does that justice look like exactly?

This is where the conflation begins. If one listens to Charles, you would think that the state represents the Church and both have the same responsibilities and purposes instead of working in two different spheres of sovereignty. It is both confusing and frustrating, especially as his comments were made in front of an audience of young, earnest learners who are passionate about racial reconciliation and healing.

I suspect the constant conflation of Church and state is no accident.

You can watch Charles’ entire address below:


17 Responses to Native American Activist: “Promised Land is Authority to Commit Genocide”

  1. Andrew Hughes says:

    Without soverienty we have no nation. A one world government philosophy apologizes for greatness and sovereignty. God has always blessed boundaries and organization. God help us stay great as we honor you and your precepts.

  2. Palamas says:

    Charles is a perfect example of what happens when activists try to take their pet concern and apply it where it doesn’t belong. He obviously knows no more about Israel and its history with the Palestinians than he knows about shinola.

  3. David says:

    The history of the relations between European settlers and the native Americans is generally rather grim. The introduction of Old World diseases here (influenza, measles, smallpox, etc.) led to deaths estimated by some to be even 90%. This was viewed as God “clearing the way” for settlers. Indeed, Plymouth, which the Pilgrims found so convenient with ready made fields, was a former native town whose population had been completely killed off.

    There are, however, a few patches light. The land of New York, New Jersey, and most notably Pennsylvania were purchased from the natives and relations were far better than out west. When attacked by rebellious whites, the governor of Pennsylvania had the natives brought into Philadelphia for their safety and maintained at public expense. Benjamin Franklin helped to organize the defense of the city.

    We expect more of Israel than other Middle Eastern states as it was founded by Europeans with Western sensibilities. Had European refugees been content to live in a multiethnic Palestine and speak Arabic and had the local population been accepting of them, perhaps things might have turned out better. However, Jews insisted on their own country and language, and nothing divides people more than language.

    The theocratic tenancies of some have led to the curious situation where Jews have more religious freedom in the US than in Israel. Groups other than the orthodox are not considered “real” Jews. This includes most Jews in the US who are Reform. Marriages and other ceremonies cannot be performed by non Orthodox authorities. People always like to use God to justify their own actions.

    • Rebecca says:

      You really know your revisionist history. But, if you want to know true history you can read William Bradford’s book on the Plymouth colony and Francis Parkman’s books on the history of the US. Many actual history books are available today on the web. Archer Butler Hulbert wrote history books on capitalism in the US. These are just a few books and three authors I’m sure you didn’t know existed. As for Israel, what makes you think it could have turned out better with Arabs in control? They control all the countries around it and they are in bad shape.

      • David says:

        There is nothing revisionist about the purchase of land from the natives in certain parts of the US, but a matter of fact with written records. The place where I live was purchased at a rate of 5 acres for one axe in the 1600s. Some have tried to minimize the deaths from imported diseases and the size of the native population. These are the true revisionists.

        • Lee D. Cary says:

          David, the right thing for you to do with your “place,” if you believe what you wrote, is to move away and donate it to the nearest Indian Reservation. Or sell it for a few axes.

          • David says:

            You imply that the natives had no right to sell land unlike whites. There is an often repeated myth as mentioned in 19th C. histories that the natives did not understand land sales. Given the wars they fought amongst themselves for land, this is hardly credible. In any event, the natives still retain the right to harvest bulrushes here. Baby Moses has not turned up yet.

          • L.D. Cary says:

            No, David, I don’t imply that “the natives had no right to sell land unlike whites.” On the contrary. They clearly thought they had, and the whites recognized that right. You’re beating a straw man, David.

            My question remains unanswered: Why don’t you make reparations to the native Americans near you by giving back their land? For, as you wrote:

            “The history of the relations between European settlers and the native Americans is generally rather grim. The introduction of Old World diseases here (influenza, measles, smallpox, etc.) led to deaths estimated by some to be even 90%. This was viewed as God “clearing the way” for settlers. Indeed, Plymouth, which the Pilgrims found so convenient with ready made fields, was a former native town whose population had been completely killed off.”

            So – make amends, David.

  4. SM says:

    Marxism has fully infiltrated the evangelical denominations, and as usual hates America and Israel. Wonderful…

  5. Jess Reeves says:

    It is one thing to have reasonable arguments and diverse opinions, but to entertain such nonsense is a discredit to Trinity which may show it fraying at the edges of reason.

  6. Steve Duncan says:

    Obviously you don’t believe in the Old Testament or you would see the role of Israel is this days preceding the return of Oir Savior Jesus Christ to this earth of which the wicked will be destroyed. Oh, I realize you do not believe Jesus Christ will never return to earth to rule and reign as the Millennial Messiah. So sorry.

    • David says:

      If there is anything biblical about the current State of Israel, then you must concede that David Ben-Gurion was the Messiah.

      • L. Cary says:

        David, how quickly out-of-hand you discount the possibility that David B-G was the temporary Descension of Isaiah.

  7. L. Cary says:

    “The challenge in responding to the disjointed comments made by Charles is that he cleverly pivots between mentions of the nation-state and the Church. In one moment, he denounces the United States’ foreign relations with Israel, but then in the next breath berates the American Church for seemingly the same flaws.”

    Well, yes, because when one has nothing to say, one tactic to mask ignorance is to suddenly change the subject so as to befuddle the audience. In such cases, it’s important not to argue with the one who knows not of what hir (the PC non-gender word for him or her) speaks, because witnesses may not be able to tell the difference.

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