The gospel according to Aretha Franklin says: "R-E-S-P-E-C-T find out what it means to me."
Biblical wisdom teaches: "Give everyone what you owe him. If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor." (Romans 13:7 NIV)
Last week, a group of senators, many in the leadership of the majority Democratic Party, asked for a meeting with a small group of interfaith religious leaders. Their topic: climate change. The Senate now has a bill that will soon be up for a vote and the 10 senators wanted our feedback -- and also our support. I was asked to say a few words.
As an explorer, Columbus was not the first to reach the Western Hemisphere. Native Americans had been here for 10,000-20,000 years, and Vikings and Chinese are among those others who hold prior claims. Even after four attempts, Columbus never realized his goal of finding a western ocean route to Asia. As a “founding father type figure” he never set foot in what is now considered America but landed in the present day Bahamas, Cuba, and Haiti.
As a Christian example he enacted terrible cruelties to friendly natives: assuming unlawful rights of authority; robbing and subjugating whole nations of their freedom and entire capital; allowing his men to rape, murder and pillage at will; and deliberately leading the way for the genocide of millions, considered by many to be the worst demographic catastrophe in recorded history.
So why do Americans celebrate Columbus Day?