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Evangelism to Social Gospel


Pastor Rajiah and students (ca.1949?) (7)..Courtesy of MHC Archives.

Victims of famine - India, 1949 (7).Courtesy of MHC Archives.

When early Christian missionaries arrived in India (9), they discovered a country resistant to conversion. Missionizing efforts met with very little success. Believing the Hindu religion was responsible for many societal ills, the missionaries threw their considerable moral support behind progressive measures against Sati, Thugee, and female infanticide (5).

The American missionaries opened large numbers of schools in the areas in which they worked. They were pioneers of female literacy and education in India. Both through their attacks on Hinduism and their educational work, they helped with the gradual westernization of India and paradoxically, the ultimate purification of Hinduism and other Indian religions (8).

The turn of the century saw an expansion in medical, educational and social reform contributions by the missionaries.
They focused the attention of British officers and educated Hindus on the evils of temple prostitution, widow-celibacy, caste-system and child marriage. The missionary effort on behalf of India's lepers was heroic (5).
They were the impetus needed to spark education reform at the government level.

In antebellum New England, the melding of piety and service allowed women to justify advances in their own education and public influence. As agents of social change, the American missionary women led the way in creating new opportunities for women on a global level, through education, teaching, and social influence (8).

" The hindsight of history can give us answers but they touch us only when they come out of the past-present of biography. By standing beside these women, sharing their sophistication, their ignorance, their faith, their worries, their inability to see into the future, we share the hope and poignancy of their lives, and of life itself” (4).

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This page was created by Margaret O'Neal '08 in History 283, Spring Semester 2006 -