Thursday, November 5, 2009

22. Native American Church of Jesus Christ

The Native American Church of Jesus Christ is the oldest organized religion of the Native Americans, which some refer to as the oldest church in the world. The Native American Church of Jesus Christ became recognized as a religion in 1924, with the ordination of ministers like any other church. In previous years every tribe held different beliefs with different traditions and rituals. The evolution of the Native American Church of Jesus Christ was part of an effort to unify Native Americans under a single set of beliefs and to be recognized by other religions of the world. It began by practicing religion the “Half Moon” way, with the “Generation Fireplace” on the altar with a mound of dirt in the form of a halfmoon. The leader of the religion was called the road man, who today are known as the ministers. The Native American Church of Jesus Christ uses traditional methods of worshipping, for example, they still use the peace pipe in the services and use traditional instruments for songs in prayer. However, some Native Americans reject this organized religion, because it strays too far from tradition and they believe that the “Bible doesn’t belong to the Indians because the white man made it” (Spider 124). However, the church does not defy original tradition but responds that Christ too was a traditional man, and living over 2 thousand years ago, being a more traditional man than the rest. Today the church follows the teachings of the Bible and they believe in the second coming of Christ. Members believe that by traditional ways of worship alone, no man will be saved (Spider).

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