This is the prompt: Evaluate the extent to which Christianity changed society in Latin America in the period 1500-1800.
World history in the period 1500-1800 depicts a turbulent era of change. At this point in history the Americas have been newly discovered and experience much change as Europeans bring their culture, language, and religion over to the Americas. Christianity, being a prominent religion in Europe, becomes one of the most influential pieces of european migration and exploration of the Americas. Although a complete conversion of the natives to Christianity did not take place, because of the large-scale conversion in the Brazilian population and the prominence of a syncretic blend of Christianity and the natives’ religion, Christianity greatly changed religion in Latin American society.
As Jesuits came from Europe into Latin America to create converts, they encountered success in Brazil. In Brazil, the African slaves newly brought to South America to work sugar plantations were widely converted to christianity. This can be seen in document 4. The brazilians took to christianity and created the brotherhood of enslaved and free africans and the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary of the Black People as well as the religious statue depicted in the photograph. This image shows that the africans in Brazil took to christianity and many were successfully converted, enough to warrant the creation of a christian church. This, in fact, is not the only christian statue created in Brazil. In modern day Brazil, the Christ the Redeemer statue stands proud in Rio, proclaiming Chritianity’s still strong hold in Brazil. In addition, Christianity remains the dominant religion in Brazil. The large-scale conversion of brazilians to christianity had a large and long-lasting effect on latin american society in the 16th to 19th centuries and into modern day.
Although the conversion of Brazillians was mostly successful, this was not the case everywhere. In fact, one could argue that christianity had little effect on latin american society based on the writing of Félix de Azara [document 5] which describes a native society that did not take to the jesuits teachings or practices in faith and only seemed to take part in ceremonies because they were made to take part in them. However, as this was the view of a Spaniard who did not spend most of his time around the natives, this is not an entirely accurate description.
The syncretic blending of christianity and the natives’ religion greatly influenced latin american society by creating a new version of christianity that became popular among the natives. Fabián de Vargas, a native american from the town of betaza, [document 2] describes a scenario where natives who were converted to christianity incorporate parts of the natives’ religion into christian sermons and rituals. Vargas describes the priests using a feather that adorns the head of one of the native goddesses while singing a christan song and preaching christian sermons. Vargas’s viewpoint differs greatly from Azara’s view as Vargas is a native who spent much more time among the native people. Vargas was able to witness the arrival of Christianity and the blending of it with his native culture in his village. This proves the syncretic blending of christianity and the natives’ religion by combining parts of the old religion with the sermons and ideas of christianity had a long-lasting effect on Latin American society.