Christian Missions in India 1890

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Map Code: Ax02429

By the early 19th century the London Missionary Society had focused its attention on South Asia. The British East India Company, which governed India until 1858, had always been extremely wary of the risks of disturbing Muslim and Hindu sensibilities. However, increasing pressure from evangelicals in Britain led to a shift in policy, and in 1813 Parliament opened India to missionary activity. The 1813 Act also provided India with an established church, which formed part of the Church of England. The Anglican church primarily administered to British colonial administrators, merchants, the Indian Army and Anglo-Indians, and there was only limited success in gaining Christian converts. In 1857 the Great Indian Rebellion (Indian Mutiny) sent shockwaves throughout the Empire. One of its main trigger points was the increasing policy of Christianization in India, which united Hindus and Muslims in protest. In 1858 the East India Company’s rule was terminated and India was brought formally under British sovereignty. The British government resolved to abstain from interference in religious belief or worship in India. Left without official support, the missionaries experienced many difficulties; the caste system ran counter to Protestant beliefs that all men were equal in the eyes of God, and it is scarcely surprising that most conversions to Christianity took place amongst tribal groups and the ‘untouchable’ Dalits, who were outside the Hindu social structure.

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