A college removed a plaque honoring a fellowship of slain missionary alumni because it described the indigenous tribe that speared them to death in Ecuador as “savage.”
After outrage from students, faculty and staff, Wheaton College established a task force to reword and “review” the plaque commemorating missionaries James Elliot and Ed McCully, according to an email obtained by the Daily Caller and first reported by The Spectator. The plaque was gifted by the class of 1949 in 1957 to honor their fallen classmates for their fatal mission to bring the gospel to the indigenous people of Ecuador.
“Recently, students, faculty, and staff have expressed concern about language on the plaque that is now recognized as offensive,” said university President Philip Ryken in a Wednesday email to students. “Specifically, the word ‘savage’ is regarded as pejorative and has been used historically to dehumanize and mistreat indigenous peoples around the world.”
The plaque says, “for generations, all strangers were killed by these savage Indians. After many days of patient preparation and devout prayer, the missionaries made the first friendly contact known to history with the Aucas.”
NEW: Wheaton College removed a plaque honoring Christian missionaries because it uses the word “savage”.
The missionaries were speared to death, their bodies thrown in a river, while trying to make contact with an indigenous tribe in Ecuador in 1957. https://t.co/GgF2N2yUcC
— Amber Athey (@amber_athey) March 17, 2021
“The reworded plaque will carry forward the memory at Wheaton College of brave missionaries and their sacrificial witness, while at the same time respecting the Waodani people with whom they shared the gospel of the love of Christ,” Ryken concludes. (RELATED: Cancel Culture On College Campuses Is Even Worse Than We Thought)
The task force members in charge of editing the plaque will be a faculty historian, a faculty missiologist, a representative from the Wheaton College Alumni Association Board of Directors, a graduate student and an undergraduate student.
Elliot and McCully, along with fellow missionaries Nate Saint, Peter Fleming and Roger Youderian, initially made friendly contact with the Waodani people, formerly known as the Auca, exchanging gifts with them for months. However, shortly after meeting face-to-face with the tribe, the five missionaries were murdered with spears and their bodies thrown into a river.
As of Wednesday, the plaque has been removed from Edman Chapel, The Spectator reported.