The United Aborigines Mission. This stuff went out of fashion years ago, didn’t it? Those missions – the ones that stole children, tortured them, and stripped them of their heritage – they’re completely gone, aren’t they? What with the Bringing Them Home report and all. Not a trace survives, at least not out and proud. Or so I thought.
“With over 100 years of continuous missionary activity to the indigenous peoples of Australia, UAM has been at the forefront of Australian missionary endeavor and has established a reputation for its concern for both the physical and spiritual welfare for the Aboriginal people. Relying on God and in fellowship with the established indigenous church, UAM Ministries seeks to bring the gospel of Christ as it is revealed in Scripture, to the Aboriginal people of our day.”
Have a poke around the site, and soak up the creepaliciousness of it all. On your way to the Newsletters archive, don’t miss the ham-fisted, context-free “Cultural Perspective” section. It’s a laff a minute.
The story of Lula gives away a little more of the mission’s philosophy.
“Isaiah 9:2 “the people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.”
This was the vision that Mr & Mrs Wade had and it was to these people that the Lord called them to take the light of the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ. So in 1934 they went in search of these people that walked in darkness.”
They want you to believe that they feel a sense of calling, of responsibility. What they’re really asserting is a right – the God-given right of a dominant group to inscribe an othered group, to impose its beliefs on them. These missionaries still consider Australian indigenous culture to be a terra nullius, their spiritual life a dark, sin-drenched hole crying out to be filled with zealotry-fuelled Christian light.
It doesn’t occur to them that any non-Christian people can be a people whole unto themselves. Until they are enveloped by the religion of the conquerors, they are deficient. From the beginning, colonists have fallen hook, line and sinker for their own publicity: they truly believe they are the bringers of spirituality. Civilisation. Culture. And above all, light. Light to the people of darkness, enlightenment to the heathens, and whiteness to the – how would the UAM’s crack Culture Team put it? “Non-non-Aboriginal”?
I’ll leave you with a little case study from the first quarter 2001 newsletter. Charles and Wilma have returned to Fitzroy Crossing, in the far north of WA, after a sixteen-year break. They’re very proud of their efforts to learn a smattering of Bunaba and Kriol. Maybe they have Black Best Friends, too. What threw my Creepy Detector into overdrive was this menacing line:
“Wilma is keen to do children’s work, having been trained in child evangelism and extensive experience in this area.”
Child evangelism. Child evangelism.
They might not be allowed to take children away bodily these days, but they’ll sure as hell try to take their souls. Child evangelism is revisited in this little ditty from a 2000 newsletter:
Wilma continues her mission diary thus:
“First to the broom dust and grim amass in an abandoned abode! But the gas stove works and the power is on, and ceiling fans work in all the rooms, but not the air-conditioner. A-OK.- the rooms are airy and ample. Just two appliances conspicuous by their absence, a fridge and washing machine. But those arrogant little white ants don’t wait to be asked in and have been working arduously! “
Yeah. What she said.