Petition 80572

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The Protection of Native American Sacred Sites (80572-C2-R148)

Amend and readopt Resolution 148.  
WHEREAS, i In 1978 and 1992 , in an effort to clarify the status of traditional Native American religious practices and practitioners, Congress passed a Joint Resolution legislation entitled "The American Indian Religious Freedom Act," and “The Religious Freedom Restoration Act” which declared that it was the policy of Congress to protect and preserve the inherent right of American Indians to believe, express, and practice their traditional religions. ; and Native American love for and identity with the land resonates with the theology of land in Scripture. The loss of sacred land leads to a loss of identity and even freedom for the people of Israel (Genesis 15:13), and that loss of freedom can prevent full religious expression, as the Psalmist asks, “How could we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?” (Psalms 137:4) Native American religious understandings of the sacredness of land resound and even precede the Christian theology of land by thousands of years. WHEREAS, t Today a major crisis exists in that there is no real protection for the practice of traditional Indian religions within the framework of American constitutional or statutory law, and courts usually automatically dismiss Indian petitions without evidentiary hearings. ; and WHEREAS, w While Congress has passed many laws that are designed to protect certain kinds of lands and resources for environmental and historic preservation, none of these laws are designed to protect the traditional sacred sites of Native American tribes for the purpose of Native American traditional religious practice. ; and
WHEREAS, t The only existing law directly addressing this issue, the American Indian  
Religious Freedom Act, is simply a policy that provides limited legal relief to aggrieved American Indian religious practitioners. ; and WHEREAS, t The 1992 General Conference of The United Methodist Church went on record as supporting the rights of all Native Americans, Christian and traditional alike, Therefore, be it resolved, that the General Board of Church and Society shall continue to support legislation that will provide for a legal cause of action when sacred sites may be affected by governmental action ; and proposed legislation should also provide for more extensive notice to and consultation with tribes and affected parties. ; and Be it further resolved, that, o On behalf of the whole United Methodist Church, the General Board of Church and Society may enter and support court cases relating to the American Indian Religious Freedom Act. ; and Be it further resolved, that t The General Board of Church and Society shall communicate with the Senate Select Committee on Indian Affairs, declaring that the position of The United Methodist Church, expressed through the 2008 0 General Conference, is to strengthen the American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978 and preserve the God-given and constitutional rights of religious freedom for American Indians, including the preserving of traditional Native American sacred sites of worship. ADOPTED 2000 See Social Principles, ΒΆ 164A.