religions, including compassionate systems like Buddhism or sublime
philosophies like Vedanta, were little more than idolatry and
superstition to be swept aside in the noble Christian pursuit of
salvation. Such missionaries felt that this effort to save souls
justified any military and economic coercion that might go
along with it, however unpleasant that might be.
The logic was inevitable. If mine is
the only true religion and those who don't accept it are condemned
to eternal damnation, my duty is to impose this religion, like a
medicine a child does not want to take, on all people for their own
benefit regardless whether they like it or not. This alliance of
armies and missionaries lasted well into the twentieth century and
left its mark of genocide in America, Africa and Asia that has left
many peoples, like the Native Americans, deeply psychologically
scarred. Along with religion came the rest of Western culture,
thought and customs and the end of traditional ways of life.
Non-Christian, that is non-Western religions and cultures, were
subverted or eliminated. The new converts to Christianity were
encouraged not only to give up their religion but their culture,
which often had religious or spiritual implications well. A good
Christian convert would dress like a European and emulate European
manners in all things. In India Hindus converted by the British to
Christianity were encouraged to think and live like Englishmen. They
were to be English souls and minds in brown Asian bodies.