IN QUEST OF SAINTHOOD
Bates accurately described Las Casas’ efforts to protect New World Indians from Spanish persecution, but religious fervor has blinded Parish. The worst devastation of native culture was not the work of the soldiers and landowners she condemns but that of the missionaries she exalts.
In both Catholic Latin America and Protestant North America, only compliant Indians enjoyed even nominal acceptance. Since the Indian gods were false, Europeans reasoned, their native cultures must be inferior--a conclusion driven to genocidal limits by Christianity’s relentless missionary impulse. Indians who rejected the white man’s religion were persecuted and exterminated. In fact, even Las Casas advocated humane treatment of Indians only within the context of conversion.
FORREST G. WOOD
PROFESSOR OF HISTORY
CAL STATE BAKERSFIELD