Doctrine of Discovery Task Force

Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
Psalm 139:23-24

Due to report at Synod 2016, the Doctrine of Discovery Task Force was commissioned by Synod 2012. This page is meant to inform and provide further resources about this little-known but vitally important part of our heritage. Be sure to check out some of the introductory material on this page (like the FAQs page, the Prezi presentation below, or the timeline) to get started, or jump right in:

Read the full report
Read the executive summary
Watch the webinar

What is the Doctrine of Discovery (DoD)?
The DoD is a series of papal bulls or declarations from the pope from the 15th Century. These papal statements gave European rulers official church sanction to claim a right of discovery over lands not held by Europeans and Christians.

The task force has learned in their study that the papal bulls of the DoD represent a common assumption of that time: that Europeans were superior to other peoples and charged to bring the light of the Church and civilization to backward and pagan peoples. So, the DoD is behind the claim that Columbus “discovered” the Americas, even though there were people already present on this land. The euro-superiority motif of the DoD surfaces in assimilation policy such as boarding schools (“kill the Indian in the child” was a phrase actually used) and Canada's Indian Act. The DoD is directly cited in modern court decisions on land use and property rights. The DoD is a deep foundation of the last 500 years of history in North America. Read more FAQs

Looking for a more thorough introduction? Here’s a quick Prezi presentation to get you started.