Colonisation and Christianity: An Australian Perspective

What makes January 26 different from any other day? In recent years it has been remembered as Australia Day. But it hasn't always been so, the day not being recognised nationally until at least a century after Captain Arthur Phillip arrived at a small sandy cove with eleven British ships on this day in 1788 to establish the settlement that has become known as Sydney.1 To have a national day is a product of the modern nation state, much like a flag or a national anthem. And, like a flag, the national day tries to summarise what it means to be Australian. If you look at the flag and listen to the anthem you will find that they are formed around themes from the colonial past. Similarly, Australia Day emphasises colonial history. In recent years I have become more aware of this colonial story and how it is not the only story to explain or describe my country. Many others seem to be asking similar questions, and whether January 26 should still be the Australian national day is no longer certain.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Interesting article. I had a Aussie dentist friend I practiced with in HK. I reminded him often of the ~160K criminals exported from Britain to Australia for about 80 yrs. beginning in 1788. :slight_smile:
Seeking our roots is interesting but “perhaps you have inferred” as I believe, the complexity of all of the moving parts of the human condition that got us here doesn’t have a simplistic answer.
There is an African American ex NFL player, Emmitt Smith, that sought his roots back to the Africa slave trade only to realize it was Africans who had sold his family to the “colonizers.” It was an eyeopener to him. The realities of history, “white colonisation” and the human condition is usually messy and certainly not a simplistic straight line…

History is important and unless studied we are doomed to repeat without a challenge to past errors. But, I suggest spending all our time on “our roots” is non-productive. We all live in the complexities of the present. We all can fall into some “victimhood” if we consider Nations, Political, Religious, and family history. So while informative may I encourage Carpe Diem when considering past or future.

I appreciate you note on the fear of “syncretism” by Christian bodies that were historically mission minded. When we use text like Gal.3:28 and infer that is somehow a “doctrine less” environment it isn’t. It is “those in Christ” are one. Syncretism is a problem that destroys “the faith once delivered to the saints.”

Likewise I believe we need to be careful not to impose “religious” concepts on political situations, which is not uncommon today." Gal. 3:28 is not biblically a Kumbaya for all nations and peoples to be considered as “one.”

Lastly, I appreciate your noting the utilitarian use that is made, often symbiotically between church and state and suggest that is the inference of “woman prostitute riding the beast.” Indeed from either church or state side to much love showed (rather than respect to the different spheres) to the other smells of “pimphood.”
Cheers to you “down under.”

I find history fascinating, despite no particular appreciation of it when I was in school. Perhaps my interest is increasing with my own extended tracks of history being left in the sand.

Thank you for taking the time to raise your concerns by writing out your perceptions.

Like Christian believers to the Bible, historians have a broad range of backgrounds. They come to their subject with their own personal biases, both of limitations and of insights, with unique world views and presuppositions. The informational material with which they contend is often very broad ranging (often beyond the scope of their own experience). Even when the veracity of the material can be assertained, the inferred conclusion may not be entirely truthful.

The classic example of “The captain did not get drunk today” should teach us that facts can be both true and false at the same time, depending on the assumed question that it answers. And questions can be so constructed that the truth can not be ascertained: “Have you stopped beating your wife?”

Nevertheless, our desire to know and make sense of that knowing, will drive our continued examination of both our own and the history of others in search of meaningful information that can help us accomplish our goals. We should proceed cautiously, and with a generous portion of humility, when claiming we have found a truth in either history or religion.

Thanks again for the article. It’s enlightening & thought provoking.


I will comment on the following quotes in my next post:

1 Like

“Science” and “Christianity” are not discrete “bodies of thought” that exist sacrosanct in some Platonic realm free of human fingerprints, making them therefore “noble.”

Making the assumption that we have an unpolluted well to draw from is a grave mistake, I believe.

The first, and father, of many ensuing mistakes.


1 Like

The adverse effects of Christianity on colonialism is best illustrated by the British Crown rule of India ( 1858-1947…).

Seventy years after throwing off British rule, homosexuality is still a criminal offense in India!

This despite the fact that Hinduism, unlike Christianity, has no homophobic taboos against gay sex. If anything Hinduism is neutral or even pro gay.

So why are these archaic laws, inherited from the British, ( because of the Anglican. Church’s anti gay stance.) still impacting the estimated 40 million gays on the Indian sub continent ?

These laws, directly attributable to the Christian influence on Colonilaism, have caused untold misery for millions of gays, born with zero choice in their sexual orientation…

Hinduism, like Buddhism and Shintoism has no negative view of same sex attraction . The demographics are implacable : about four percent of humans world wide, regardless of ethnicity, religion, or.nationalityity, are born gay / lesbian., with zero choice in the matter!

The extreme homophobic criminalization of gays ( some even apply the death penalty ) in East African countries, is also attributable to the residues of British rule, with a heavy emphasis on the Anglican Church’s role .

The native populations who were animist or agnostic, prior to British rule, had no anti gay bias.

So millions have suffered adverse affects due to the affects of Christianity on colonialism.


The quote above is a wonder.

The author assumes the unsullied purity of the Bible in order to make this argument, even though he previously asserted that “the powerful will manipulate any body of thought to maintain their power.”

A beautiful calfskin HOLY BIBLE with gilt-edged fine quality paper is an impressive object, but perhaps we should question some of our assumptions to see what is hiding there.

The saga of The Children of Israel is all about colonization and genocide.

But that is somehow acceptable because it was “infused with a God-given prerogative” for colonization and genocide.

That is how our regional deity operates.

Should it be surprising that we have historically done the same, inspired by that impressive Holy Bible?

Should it be surprising that the most likely region for World War III to imminently begin is the territory where people assume that they have a “God-given prerogative” for colonization and genocide?

The “five hundred year project of colonization” was inspired by the unquestionably brutal colonization of what we are pleased to call The Holy Land.

Is that a “failure of Christianity,” or our collective failure to recognize that is is our own minds that have been colonized and enslaved?


Historic license for colonization and genocide, “infused with a God-given prerogative:”


John Cotton’s sermon is titled “God’s Promise to His Plantation.”

He begins with one of the loveliest passages from the book of Second Samuel, an otherwise R-rated chronicle of King David’s serial-killer years. Chapter 7, verse 10:

“I will appoint a place for my people Israel, and I will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own, and move no more.”

Sounds so homey, like that column in the real estate section of the New York Times about how people found their apartments.

Until I remember that talk like this is the match still lighting the fuses of a thousand car bombs.

What Cotton is telling these about-to-be-Americans is that they are God’s new chosen people.

This they like to hear. In fact, they have been telling themselves just that.

The Old Testament Israelites are to the Puritans what the blues was to the Rolling Stones—a source of inspiration, a renewable resource of riffs.

What Cotton is telling them is that, like the Old Testament Jews, they are men of destiny.

And, like the Old Testament Jews, God has given them a new home, a promised land.

And, like the Old Testament Jews, God has printed eviction notices for them to tack up on the homes of the nothing-special, just-folks folks who are squatting there.

It’s fine, according to Cotton, to move into “a country not altogether void of inhabitants” if said country is really big.

After all, he continues, “Abraham and Isaac, when they sojourned amongst the Philistines, they did not buy that land to feed their cattle, because they said ‛ There is room enough.’ ”

This is God’s plantation, remember?

Cotton says, “If God be the gardener, who shall pluck up what he sets down?”

Hear that, Indians? No weeding of the white people allowed. Unless they’re Catholic. Or one of those Satan-worshipping Virginians.

—Sarah Vowell, The Wordy Shipmates


John Cotton: God’s Promise to His Plantation (1630 sermon):

1 Like

I don’t disagree with your assertions. One doesn’t have to be a Jew, in heart, or a Christian. If we accept the calling however, I suggest, we are committed to accepting the scriptures as God’s word for us. One can argue forever BUT great efforts have been made to pass down accurately the original documents that comprise both OT & NT.
With that in mind, what’s wrong about “the creator of heaven and earth” who states all things made are His controlling who lives where? All tenants are there “conditionally” and to His pleasing. One doesn’t have to accept that but why then accept only the portions we want? Many deconstruct and reframe scripture so it is hardly recognizable in intent.

Referring to Jubilee year God claims ownership of land and how it is to be managed.
'The land, moreover, shall not be sold permanently, for the land is Mine; for you are but aliens and sojourners with Me.

Presently we are living in the “times of the gentiles.” So, OT law while legitimate to allude to to understand God’s view of Justice in dealing with humankind, specifically His OT Covenant people, doesn’t apply today.

God, is not inactive in the affairs of mankind today but the specific “rulebook” of Moses and all OT writings doesn’t directly apply. That should make many happy but, How is that working out for us? Nations still rise and fall and sin still remains. People complain against God both ways. Why does this happen? Why does he tell me how we should live? With most seeing no correlation. “Love and compassion” solves it all…doesn’t it?

So, God who has divided the earth up for peoples in scripture does claim without embarrassment the right of ownership.

Try as we might the “pay grade” for deciding all these things is above us and remains uncertain/unclear to us with surprises.
We by faith still believe He reigns and establishes and takes down peoples as He chooses. Behind it all is God’s perfect plan, motive and justice , I suggest, in dealing with the restoration/redemption of fallen mankind. That’s my hope and faith and haven’t personally found a better answer.

1 Like

NĂĽremberg defense, Pat?

Fail to see how that interferes with the macro-view I gave you. Are you saying “the trials” were also an indictment of God and His orders to the Israelites?
Hitler and other dictators (Stalin, Mao) were judged by God and removed from power by Him…using secondary sources, I suggest.

I am saying it’s time to stop blaming “God” for our atrocities.

1 Like

Don’t disagree…but He killed in the OT and His followers did at His direction.

That is why I used the term “regional deity,” rather than “God.”

The Old Testament narrative is the template for all that has followed, and may result in the extinction of the human race, given the weapons capabilities of those potentially engaged in the Middle East struggle.

I think better of God.

I personally dont think that is the way the human race will end. One thing is evident to me, We need a King and “one” is not to found among humanity.

We need to take responsibility for our own actions.

Perchance there is a God who can heal us, if we begin there.

Well, it seems to me that has been the plan of Redemption for all recorded history. I dont see that universally accepted. Desires and Hope’s don’t equal reality. Sin and consequences remain in “my world.”

Thanks, Pat…

Thank you for the thoughts

1 Like