Occasional Paper: Riches, “Urban Indigenous Australian Pentecostal Christianity”

My Identity is ‘Indigenous Australian’ and ‘Christian’ and it’s Not An Oxymoron: Urban Indigenous Australian Pentecostal Christianity

Tanya Riches (Fuller Theological Seminary)

Introduction

Within post-mission Australia, the state effectively manages perceptions of Indigenous peoples (both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) through the media, which often perpetuates rather than contradicting false stereotypes. In a contemporary neoliberal global political regime that values efficiency and rationality, Australia’s first nations are often characterized as homogenous, inefficient and non-rational. Recent publicity over threatened closure of over one hundred and fifty remote rural communities provides a case in point. In statements to the public, Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett defended his position, citing drunkenness, domestic violence, lack of work ethic, and even general untidiness as reasons for the removal of Australians from their land[1]. In this way, cabinet ministers at both state and federal levels capitalize upon the general population’s ignorance about Australia’s Indigenous peoples[2]. However, there are hundreds of Indigenous nations and cultures, including the islands of the Tiwi and Torres Strait (Rolls, Johnson, and Reynolds 2010).[3] While connection to land as a central feature best represents Indigenous cultural and spiritual continuity, many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples live and work in Australia’s urban cities. And, although spirituality is as for any group, highly various in practice, the ABS reports 73% of Australia’s Indigenous population self-identify as Christian. Continue reading