Beyond Christianity Global

Navajos and Christianity – Dismissive of “Part-Time Religion”

Navajos and Christianity? “The Navajos for the most part have long resisted Christianity.”

Navajos and Christianity


These are the thoughts of Raymond Friday Locke, from his The Book of the Navajo, Mankind Pub Co, 2001 edition, p5. His take on Navajo culture and perspectives is widely respected.


Navajos and Christianity: a part-time religion

The Navajos for the most part have long resisted Christianity. They look upon it as a “part-time” religion where a man’s god is available to him for only a few hours on Sunday and then has to be sought out in a special house where his spirit dwells.

Now where would they ever get that idea as to what Christianity is?

Navajos and Christianity: disrespect for the land, and a circumscribed worship location

Navajos and Christianity part-time religionFrom the beginning, the Navajos were repulsed by the European’s disrespect for and misuse of the land … A society that would destroy the source of life and worship an abstract god in a place set aside for that purpose has, historically, had little to offer the Navajo.

Surely they don’t think of us as such a society?

(See also this post: “Navajo: Eternity is In It.”)

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  • Few people truly practice their religion throughout the world. This is nothing new. Many Native Americans(aka Indians) believed in the “Great Spirit” and did not make idols like the Jews in much of the Old Testament did to much of the time. Look at Solomon with a 1000 heathen wives and he made idols for them.
    Amongst the Native Americans, who believed in the Great Spirit and did not make idols, they were close to the heart of God.

  • Cindy, the problem is not the Native American, but the problem is US. Many people call themselves christians but their actions said otherwise. ( Like the “Admin” stated they are looking to our fruits). Just look at the state of our politics and how they have used our faith to manipulate people votes. Check how greed had corroded our faith.
    Many years ago, in 60 minutes they were asking a priest about the replacement for John Paul ( the pope at the time). The were talking about the replacement candidate could possibly be a black man. They asked the priest if he was afraid that if that were to happen how many people will leave the church…(His response was correct) ….Basically he said if you cannot acept a person because of his skin color you have never ” belong to the church ” . The problem is that many people think that because they go to a building on sunday …and mention Jesus a hundred times a day..that makes them a Christian….true Christianity is not a religion …is a way of life, is a relationship with JesusChrist. The parabole of the Good Samaritan is a good sample of it …Is not what we said, as much as what WE DO. (what we do are our Fruits)

  • I’m afraid much of the negative perception of Christianity among people around the world, including native Americans, is a product of judging us by our fruits as against taking us at our word. Which, according to Jesus, is the way it should be.

  • It’s not just Native Americans, but many others as well, who think that Christianity is something to be practiced only in church on Sunday. Real Christians don’t feel that way, or act that way. To them Christianity isn’t a religion, but a relationship – one that lasts 24/7/365. We live in a society which is becoming more secular and people tend to want to put Christians in the “Sunday morning box”. They don’t want us to talk about our faith or influence society in any way. As Christians we resist that notion because faith is something we have all the time. So, just because you see Christians going to church on Sunday that doesn’t mean it’s the only time they are Christians! Many of us are open about our faith at our jobs, in our homes, and at other times and places, including church on days other than Sundays. We applaud those who can carry on their relationship with God continually, not just inside the church. What I see here is cultural misunderstanding – Native Americans who don’t understand Christians any more than they are understood by others. Don’t assume you know or understand – always ask for clarification. Hopefully I’ve shed some light and I’d be interested to know if others agree with my assessment of Christianity as a relationship, not a religion.