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Tradition-bashing Navajo preachers do harm

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  • Robert Schmidt
    http://www.navajotimes.com/opinions/letters.php#2 Tradition-bashing Navajo preachers do harm I was raised traditional by my maternal grandparents who were
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 30, 2008
      http://www.navajotimes.com/opinions/letters.php#2

      Tradition-bashing Navajo preachers do harm

      I was raised traditional by my maternal grandparents who were medicine
      people who both passed on long ago. They helped countless people with their
      ceremonies and hand trembler. There are living proof of people who can
      attest to this.

      I started attending church at the Assembly of God Church in Houck, Ariz.,
      in my early teens, and ever since then I been going to this one church and
      there are others who go there. I always felt comfortable there, and to this
      day there are only a few of us who still goes to this church. Some have
      left for one reason or another to another church. But only a few of us
      stayed.

      Our pastors in the past have been Anglos. There was Mr. Tyson, and the last
      was Mr. and Mrs. Goetgens. Both retired and have moved away to Oregon. Now
      we have a Creek pastor.

      These preachers in all my years, I never heard them bash our Navajo
      tradition or culture and our way of life. They never said to us to throw
      away or burn our medicine bundles.

      They never said Navajo Kinaald‡ or other ceremonies is not for you. Or they
      never said you're going to hell because you believe and practice your
      religion. What they did was stay to the word of God. They teach from the
      Bible.

      Then a while back there came whole different types of evangelists, pastors
      and ministers who were Diné. The first thing out of their mouth was Navajo
      ceremonies, cultures and traditions are not your way.

      They told us this is not the Navajo way. Burn, throw away your medicine
      bundles. If you don't, you're going to hell.

      And then they tell people that God is talking to them. They would tell us,
      "God said to donate money, jewelry, sell your livestock, pawn, etc., and to
      give them the money."

      People really believe this and some did what they were told. And to this
      day and age, they are still at it, telling us don't practice your
      traditions or culture or beliefs. That really disturbs and upsets me.

      You hear it on the radio and in your church and the church I go to,
      Assembly of God Church, in Houck, we had a substitute Navajo preacher this
      past Sunday and the first thing he did was bash my tradition, culture and
      beliefs. It never fails, always happens.

      These are our own Navajo people. I wanted to stop him and say something to
      him, but I did not. I just sat back and left.

      I don't appreciate anyone bashing my Diné, that's who I am and always will
      be. I ask why they always have to say those kinds of stupid things to us.
      Why can't they just stay within the subject of the holy Bible?
      To believe in church, God and Jesus, the holy Bible is good. We all have
      that right.

      The preacher this past Sunday said, "We all need to get all the community
      together, involve them and we need to reach out to them. We want to see
      them in church worshipping with us."

      I am thinking, how can you get people to attend your church if you're going
      to bash them?
      I really don't know what to make of these Navajo preachers. They need to
      understand and respect Diné peoples' beliefs, traditions and culture. They
      might want to ask themselves, "Where am I coming from, and who am I?"
      I think because of this a lot of our members don't come to church anymore
      because of our Navajo preachers.

      I think people want Navajo preachers to respect their Navajo peoples'
      beliefs, cultures and tradition, then maybe people will come back to church
      and worship with us. Even a hardcore born-again Christian will still have
      ceremonies for their kids, like coming of age for young women, veterans,
      etc.

      Ben Bahe
      Sanders, Ariz.
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