Thanks to globum for this image
We residents of los Estados Unidos are not the only Americans with good reason to celebrate.
The people of Bolivia have just voted in a constitution that for the first time recognizes the rights and cultures of its indigenous people as of equal value with those Bolivians whose views were decisively shaped by Spanish colonialists. For Pagans this is particularly important because Bolivia’s new constitution not only guarantees religious freedom, it also recognize Pacahmama as of equal stnding with Jesus.
Pachamama is the Mother of the Earth, or Mother of the Universe, in the traditional beliefs of people of the Andes. Despite the efforts of the Catholic Church, Her worship survives strongly. Now Her worship is legally recognized as equal to Christian belief and practice.
Legal recognition is important. Our own country supposedly guarantees religious liberty with the 1st Amendment. That did not prevent Christian absolutists of various types from outlawing the practice of Indian nations’ traditional beliefs across the country. I have talked with a Crow Sun Dance leader who described to me going to those celebrations in secret, so the local law authorities would not come and close them down.
This was not all. Reservation schools throughout the country were run by various Christian denominations, the youngsters often taken from their parents, forbidden to speak their language, and forced to repudiate their traditional beliefs. It was a totalitarian effort to destroy a culture.
Only Roosevelt’s New Deal began in 1934 to restore religious freedom to America’s indigenous people. Had the 1st Amendment explicitly protected the non-Abrahamic beliefs of our earliest residents, these horrors probably would not have happened. As it is, by its silence, even today the ‘Christian’ Right tries to claim we are a uniquely Christian country and would turn us back to those dark times of spiritual oppression. Consider the hue and cry by these people because Obama did not use the Bible when he retook his oath of office, to make sure nothing would come of the slightly confused wording he and Roberts used during his inaugural.
Hopefully we will not fall back into thosedark times. But if we do, we can be guided and inspired by what the people of Bolivia have just done.