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date: 25 June 2022

Abstract and Keywords

When Europeans came to the Americas, they brought with them both Christian missionaries and notions of racial difference. Since that early encounter, the story of American missions has been intertwined with issues of race. Although some might suspect a rather simple story of missionary racism and others an account of the egalitarian effects of the Christian message, the history of missions and race is a story of competing impulses and unexpected consequences. Missionaries participated in the construction of race, they challenged racism, and they reified it. In some cases, racism twined with cultural imperialism, leading to a message and to methods that valorized Anglo-American, largely Protestant, culture. In others, concerns about racism led to larger critiques of missionary practice and US presence abroad.

Keywords: American missions, racial equality, religion and race, Protestantism, cultural imperialism

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