A Failure of My Faith

Adam Lawrence Dyer
5 min readOct 7, 2019

I have now watched the date that marks 400 years since Africans were first displaced to this continent in bondage come and go with no substantial acknowledgment by the Unitarian Universalist Association (well, we rang bells …that’s nice.) I serve this denomination as one of all too few African American ministers and this lack of action is yet another reminder that in many ways, this is not my faith. But I am not deterred. In fact, I am determined that because of this minimal action, I will not let the same thing happen next year with regard to marking 400 years since the start of the aggressive and pre-meditated displacement in 1620 of Native people from the place that we now call Massachusetts.

I believe that the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ as the modern-day religious descendants of the Puritans who arrived here in 1620 must make a public acknowledgement of their role in initiating the devastation of Native people. I also believe that as the religious body that formed and structured what would become the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the modern government of the commonwealth must join these two denominations in a public act of witness.

By 1620, Native tribes had already been poisoned by European disease. But it was the Puritans who were then able to take advantage of this weakened position to squat on villages that had been previously cleared by dying tribes and to wield firearms (somethings never change) as a threat of lethal force to build their precious “ city on a hill.” Native people did not lay down without a fight ( Pequot War, King Phillip’s War, etc.) but they were ultimately repressed by the English colonizers who had little or no interest in the original inhabitants’ continuing to survive according to their own customs let alone thrive.

…talk is cheap; repentance is dear.

There are those who will hear this call to action and resist any effort to acknowledge this history as a crime of humanity; and they may simply chalk it up to “progress”. They may ask, how can we do this without then taking account of every one of the conflicts posed by European settlers to Native people. They may also retort with “but there was violence from both sides.” Frankly, I don’t give a damn because I’m tired of accommodating white fragility around this history. I also know that if…

Adam Lawrence Dyer

Ir-reverend “Embodimentalist”