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PC(USA) and the Doctrine of Discovery

PCUSAsealPC(USA) and the
Doctrine of Discovery

A Review of Its Origins and Implications for Congregations in the PC(USA) and
Support for Native American Sovereignty
As Approved by the 223rd General Assembly

At the 222nd General Assembly in 2016, the Presbyterian Church (USA) adopted recommendations for action on the Doctrine of Discovery:
It calls the church to “confess its complicity and repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery, and direct the Presbyterian Mission Agency and the Office of the General Assembly, in consultation with ACREC (Advisory Committee on Racial Ethnic Concerns), to initiate a process of review of the Doctrine of Discovery.”

A conversation on the Doctrine of Discovery will always entail a discussion of Native American or Indigenous lands. Moreover, because the doctrine has been a central part of U.S. law regarding tribal lands, the Presbyterian Church has played a major role historically in the implementation of the doctrine.

“The Doctrine of Discovery reinforced the dehumanization of many (Jews, Arabs, Africans, et al.) and contributes to the ideology of white nationalism today.”
—Rev. Dr. Walt Davis, Christian Ethicist
Prof. Emeritus, San Francisco Seminary, IPMN member
“Currently, 92% of the PCUSA membership is Caucasian and still (mostly-unconsciously) guided by the same trajectory of thought that is reflected in the Doctrine of Discovery. Guidance into a new way of thinking must come from sources outside the dominant culture.”
—Report approved by 223rd GA

Download or read our 4-page study resource with approved recommendations by 223rd GA in 2018.

The complete report contains a lengthy review of the church’s complicity in accepting and enforcing the Doctrine of Discovery; it can be found here: http://bit.ly/2QuODDd

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