Compare and contrast the reception of missionaries in the Americas and South and southeast Asia during the period of 1450-1750.

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larrygates | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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I assume by Missionaries, you mean those who came to spread Christianity. Those who came to the Americas usually came in the wake of European settlers/conquerors. Religion tended to follow conquest, and more efforts were made to destroy existing religious structures than to spread the Gospel. A tremendous amount of historical treasure was destroyed by Catholic Priests in Mesoamerica in the name of ridding the area of "Idolatry." Reception was somewhat passive resistant; with the possible exception of Pope's Rebellion in the American Southwest, in which Pueblo Indians attacked Spanish/Catholic settlements and drove out Catholic priests.

In North America, Native Americans were sometimes forced to accept Christianity. In New England, they were treated as the "lost tribe of Satan," and many were destroyed. In one instance, and entire palisade of Indian women and children were burned to death, an event for which Cotton Mather "gave praise to God for a sweet sacrifice."  Some Indians were forced to accept Christianity and became "praying Indians" in "Praying towns."

The reception in Asia was much more resistant. The first true missionary to China was John of Montecorvino, who attempted to baptize Chinese children wholesale. He failed to build an established Church because the Chinese were by nature not inclined to organized religion.

In both China and Japan, there was enforced isolationism whic included religious practitioners. Although Portuguese Jesuits managed to gain a small foothold in Japan, they were generally opposed. Many times those who promoted Christianity were crucified (an ironic twist) as a warning to others. Even today, Christians are a small minority in Asia.

An  excellent resource you might enjoy reading is Giles Milton's Samurai William. Jame's Clavell's Shogun is based on this true story.

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