Analyze the changes and continuities in the religious influences of Christianity in the Americas from 750 to 1500, including at least three examples.
Christianity was not brought to the Americas until 1492, when Christopher Columbus’s arrival in the New World ushered in the Age of Discovery. This period began the spread of Christianity to the Americas. The Roman Catholic Church established missions, stretching from Mexico and the Southwest region of what is today the United States down south as far as Argentina and Chile.
Christian missions spread Christianity through converting indigenous peoples. Spanish colonization sought not just to expand the political empire but to establish Catholicism in the New World. Initially, colonizers attempted to purge native religious or cultural practices and replace them with Christianity. In reality, however, many Native American peoples appropriated Catholicism in addition to traditional beliefs and practices. An interesting effect of this religious influence was expansion of Native American languages. The Spanish did not impose their language the same way they did their religion, and some native languages flourished when the Spanish introduced writing systems as a means of spreading the Christian message.
Christian colonizers in the Americas have been accused of justifying and perpetrating violence against indigenous people. Many Europeans carried deep ethnocentrism, with some not even considering Native Americans to be human beings. The spread of Christianity can be seen as a destruction of one culture by another in the name of religion. However, regarding human rights, the Christian influence in the Americas has a mixed legacy. Jesuits, for example, supported the interests of Native Americans. Theologians such as Antonio de Montesinos publicly denounced all forms of slavery and oppression while defending human rights of native peoples.