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The Age of Discovery, for many European Powers, was also a way to transmit European culture and mores, which included religion. The predominant religion was Catholicism, and certain Catholic orders, like the Jesuits, were distinguished in their ability to proselytize. This happened in the New World, South America, and in the Pacific but was also part of the colonizing mission of Great Britain when they beleived they were the exemplars of wisdom and good living. This is evidenced in their relations with their colonies in Africa and SE Asia where they desperately tried to inculcate their Christian values in native populations. In many ways, this was done through missionaries, as already mentioned, and through language based work for which they set up schools, often through religious orders, to teach natives the English language. Often, natives learned to read and write using the Bible, which gave an additional religious connotation. In my opinion, early on, religion was a huge civilizing factor in the New World but quickly diminished after the mid-1700s.
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