Spreading the Faith

Some religions consider evangelization or missionary activity to be an important part of devotion to God.
Christianity and Islam are both considered to be ‘missionary religions.’ Even in the new world, both Aztecs and
Incas required their conquered subjects to worship their conqueror’s deities, although the subject people were
allowed to add them to their own native pantheons.
If we assume that it was eventually inevitable that Europeans and Amerindians would eventually come into
contact in some fashion, it is likely that in any scenario, they would have experience religious conflict. Write an
essay evaluating the efforts of Catholic missionaries (Franciscans, Dominicans, Jesuits, etc.) to spread the faith
among the conquered Amerindian peoples. Keep in mind examples of mercy and justice, as well as cruelty and
exploitation by Spanish priests. Using examples from the readings, primary documents and films in this course,
develop an argument criticizing or defending the overall missionary endeavor in its efforts to convert native
Americans to the “true faith” and to protect them from oppression and exploitation by Spanish colonists and
conquistadores.
Did Catholic missionaries mitigate the horrors of disease, slavery and conquest? Or did they exacerbate the
destruction? Keep in mind Justo González’ idea of the two faces of Christianity in Latin America. Make use of
Analyze and discuss the material that has been assigned, and address the following statement:
“Despite some examples of harsh or cruel missionary activity, many, if not most Catholic missionaries sincerely
had the best interests of the Amerindians at heart.” Discuss if you agree or disagree with the statement.
ALTERNATE PROMPT: Analyze and discuss the material that has been assigned, and address the following
statement: “Despite possible good intentions of some Catholic missionaries, most missionary work enhanced the
oppression and suffering of Amerindians.” Discuss if you agree or disagree with the statement.

Sample Solution

ACED ESSAYS