Christian Vandalism in the East

This post by James McDonald originally appeared at Bad News About Christianity.

The procession of the Spanish Inquisition in Goa entering the church with standards and banners. (Credit: Wellcome Collection / Public Domain)

The story was much the same in the East. Christian missionaries believed themselves to be inspired by God. This gave them justification for conquering lands, vandalising possessions, burning down houses, kidnapping children, and forcibly converting everyone they came across – Moslems, Hindus, Buddhists, animists, even Christians belonging to ancient Christian sects, as in Goa. As in early times, new converts were encouraged to terrorise their neighbours and even their own families. Here are a few quotations from the Jesuit Saint Francis Xavier, documented from his letters by a fellow Jesuit:

When I have finished baptizing the people, I order them to destroy the huts in which they keep their idols; and I have them break the statues of their idols into tiny pieces, since they are now Christians.

(Costelloe, M. Joseph, S.J. The Letters and Instructions of Francis Xavier. St. Louis: Institute of Jesuit Sources, 1992 pp 117-8)

When a sinner refused to listen to his words, and was deaf to arguments and appeals drawn from the terrors of hell or the sacred memories of the Passion of Christ, Xavier seized his scourge and beat his bared shoulders until the blood ran, to soften that hardened heart.
Costelloe, M. Joseph, S.J. Saint Francis Xavier, Apostle of India and Japan, The America Press, New York, 1919, P38

When all are baptized I order all the temples of their false gods to be destroyed and all the idols to be broken in pieces.
Letter From Francis Xavier in Cochin to the Society of Jesus at Rome, January 27th, 1545.

Missionaries like Saint Francis believed that non-Christians worshipped the devil, or at least they purported to believe it:

It is not too much to say that in that land of darkness and death Satan ruled as master.
Costelloe, M. Joseph, S.J. Saint Francis Xavier, Apostle of India and Japan, The America Press, New York, 1919, P45

It was Saint Francis Xavier who requested the establishment of the Goan Inquisition, which burned people alive for the crime of failing to agree with the Church on every point of official doctrine. It is also apparent to rationalists that missionaries continued to use the early Christian practice of assassinating those who preferred to keep their old religion. As in early Christian accounts of the miraculous and mysterious deaths of their enemies, it seems clear that those deaths were neither miraculous nor mysterious, but cases of murder, certainly the local Hindus still relate stories of torture and murder, passed down the generations orally. Here is the traditional Christian way of saying the same thing:

In some mysterious way God inflicted the most signal punishment on those who opposed His Saint, and their punishment became a warning and a household tale throughout the East.
Costelloe, M. Joseph, S.J. Saint Francis Xavier, Apostle of India and Japan, The America Press, New York, 1919, P56

Wherever Christians discovered countries that were climatically and economically desirable, the inhabitants were either expelled or exterminated. This happened under Roman Catholics and Protestants alike irrespective of the settlers” country. British Protestants did it in North America, Australia and New Zealand. Dutch Protestants did it in the Far East. French Catholics did it in Canada, while Spanish and Portuguese Catholics did it throughout South America and elsewhere around the world. We might know a great deal more about the history of mankind if the Christian Churches had not gone so far out of their way to destroy the vestiges of their victims’ tradition and culture. The purpose and history of the great stone heads on Easter Island was apparently well known when missionaries first arrived there, but the missionaries were more intent on destroying information than on preserving it. So it is that the details were lost.

Sacred objects throughout Africa, South America and New Guinea have been seized and destroyed, and this is still happening today. Any small remote tribes lucky enough to have avoided contact with Europeans are sought out to be told the Good News. The inevitable result, which the missionaries must know, is that their traditional ways will be undermined. Some will die of diseases like measles, influenza, typhus, pneumonia, tuberculosis, diphtheria and pleurisy, to which they have no natural immunity. Most of the remainder will find themselves without a stable way of life, deprived of their religion, their culture, their way of life, even their traditional clothing. Emotional turmoil takes its toll as well. Suicide was rare or even unknown in many communities before Christianity arrived. It was for example unknown to the Guarani-Kaiowa in Brazil until the 1980s. Then Protestant missionaries arrived to save them for Jesus. By 1991 their suicide rate was 4.5 per 1,000 — almost 150 times Brazil’s national average.

Hinduism was too widespread in India for Christianity to make much of an impact, but they still tried to destroy it and its associated culture, especially in Goa where the Inquisition operated. Christians of all principle denominations were still trying to obliterate Hindu culture into the twentieth century. For them Hindu gods were demons, and everything to do with them was intrinsically evil. Mahatma Gandhi’s autobiography, The Story of My Experiments with Truth, records the final stages were Christians in India were restricted to hurling abuse and exercising social pressure. Speaking of Christianity he wrote:

I developed a sort of dislike for it. And for a reason. In those days Christian missionaries used to stand in a corner near the high school and hold forth, pouring abuse on Hindus and their gods. I could not endure this. I must have stood there to hear them once only, but that was enough to dissuade me from repeating the experiment. About the same time, I heard of a well known Hindu having been converted to Christianity. It was the talk of the town that, when he was baptized, he had to eat beef and drink liquor, that he also had to change his clothes, and that thenceforth he began to go about in European costume including a hat. These things got on my nerves. Surely, thought I, a religion that compelled one to eat beef, drink liquor, and change one’s own clothes did not deserve the name. I also heard that the new convert had already begun abusing the religion of his ancestors, their customs and their country. All these things created in me a dislike for Christianity.

As the tentacles of Christianity have spread overseas it has become expert at destroying other cultures. Undeveloped countries find missionary activity increasingly unacceptable. At the time of writing over 75 countries have excluded Christian missionaries as undesirable, and the number is steadily increasing at around 3 per year. Not to be thwarted, missionaries run undercover illegal operations, referring to themselves as tentmakers after St Paul, who did the same thing (Acts 18:1-4). The story is the same from the Americas to Africa, Indo-China, and Australasia. All around the world the sad refuse of humanity can be found bobbing in the wake of well-meaning Christian missionaries.

More detail, with references and photos at

Reprinted with permission from the author.

James McDonald is Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society in Britain, and holds a number of professional qualifications. He also holds an MA in mathematics from Oxford University, and an MSc in Operational Research from Sussex University. He lives in the South of France. His newest book is Beyond Belief: Two Thousand Years of Bad Faith in the Christian Church (Garnet Publishing, 2009). His website is

Dark Secrets Of The Goa Inquisition | StyleRug

In Conversation with Catherine Nixey | The Darkening Age

Ugly History: The Spanish Inquisition – Kayla Wolf

Be sure to ‘like’ us on Facebook


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here