Another Stereotype of the Month entry:
Winnipeg church nixes native dancing at Habitat for Humanity event
Last Updated: Thursday, November 8, 2007 | 5:29 PM CT
A Winnipeg church prevented aboriginal dancers from performing at a Habitat for Humanity event this week, saying the performance was not an expression of Christian faith.
Habitat for Humanity invited Kim Houle and her children to perform at its annual volunteer appreciation night, which was held Tuesday in an auditorium Habitat had rented for the event inside the Church of The Rock.
But the afternoon before the performance, the church told Habitat it could not allow the dancing.
Pastor Mark Hughes said he was sorry for Houle and her family, but he agreed with his staff's decision to prevent them from dancing in his church.
"Native spiritual dancing has its roots in a different spiritual belief system that is incongruent with traditional Christian worship," Hughes said in an e-mail.
"I don't think a Buddhist temple would allow a Christian pastor to speak about Jesus."
Houle and her children, who live in a Habitat home, were allowed to attend the event, but not to perform.
Michelle Nyhof, spokeswoman for Habitat for Humanity in Winnipeg, said the church's position put the charity in an awkward situation because it had signed a contract.
"We have to respect it's their facility. There is a contract," she said. "According to their contract they have the … first right of refusal of performances, so we had to abide by that.
"Our option was to cancel the event, which we didn't feel was an option given the short notice."
Habitat is "heartbroken" by the situation, Nyhof said.
"What we do here is, you know, totally inclusive of everybody. We work with people from all backgrounds, all walks of life — it's part of our mission statement," she said.
"We build homes for families from every nationality and every religion, so for this to happen, it's quite upsetting to us."
Habitat for Humanity will try to hold future events in public facilities, Nyhof said, so the organization won't face such restrictions on performers.
Not all Native dances are spiritual in nature. And not all Natives have different belief systems, since many of them are Christians. To claim otherwise is stereotypical.
People with broader minds than Pastor Hughes would say that all forms of worship are attempts to reach the same creator. And that therefore they're inherently compatible, not incompatible. Different belief systems are incompatible only if you believe yours is right and everyone else's is wrong.
See Church Cancels Aboriginal Dance for more thoughts on the subject.
"Primitive" Indian religion
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