11/21/06 - christian civilization for india

In today's excerpt - Christianity for India. During the 18th century, England had been content with an economic relationship with India - one-sided as it was - and had not interfered with native customs or religious practices. In the middle of the 19th century that changed, yet India's population resisted this intrusion, most notably in the Indian Mutiny of 1857, and an indignant Britain turned to bloodshed:

"The year, 1857, was the Evangelical movement's annus horribilis. They had offered India Christian civilization, and the offer had been not merely declined but violently spurned. Now, the Victorians revealed the other, harsher face of their missionary zeal. In churches all over the country, the theme of the Sunday sermon switched from redemption to revenge. Queen Victoria, whose previous indifference to the Empire was transformed by the Mutiny into a passionate interest, called the nation to a day of repentance and prayer: 'A Day of Humiliation', no less. In the Crystal Palace, that monument to Victorian self-confidence, a vast congregation of 25,000 heard the incandescent Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon issue what amounted to a call for holy war:

" 'My friends, what crimes they have committed! ... The Indian government ought never to have tolerated the religion of the Hindoos at all. If my religion consisted of bestiality, infanticide and murder, I should have no right to it unless I was prepared to be hanged. The religion of the Hindoos is no more than a mass of the rankest filth that the imagination ever conceived. The Gods they worship are not entitled to the least amount of respect. Their worship necessitates everything that is evil, and morality must be put down. The sword must be taken out of its sheath, to cut off our fellow subjects by their thousands.' "


Niall Ferguson


Empire: The Rise and Demise of the British World Order and the Lessons for Global Power


Penguin Books, Ltd


Copyright Niall Ferguson, 2002


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