Monday, June 18, 2012

Did Protestant missionaries help plant the seeds of democracy throughout the world?

Excerpt: Protestants interested in fulfilling the task of The Great Commission (Matthew 28: 16-20) be it in post-Reformation Europe or elsewhere — have a strong interest in convincing individuals to make a free choice to accept Jesus as their savior. In doing so, these Protestants encourage literacy, which in turn incentivizes the creation of mass printing.

The voluntarism inherent in these Protestant churches also foments the development of skills associated with civic organization, which become the basis for the vibrant civil society needed to challenge autocratic rulers. Tony notes that this finding is consistent with other sociological research finding that church attenders are more likely to be involved in non-church civic organizations than their secular counterparts.

Tony also encourages scholars studying “new social movements” to look at “old social movements” (i.e., churches) because they have been collectively organizing for centuries, if not millenia.
Finally, Bob also notes that conversionary Protestants were strong advocates for religious liberty, which often corresponded with respect for other civil liberties such as the right to assemble and speak one’s mind. This led many of these Protestants to also speak out against the more severe abuses of colonialism such as slavery.
All of this then prompts non-religious organizations to follow the lead of these Protestant groups so as to not be outdone in the competition for the hearts and minds of the general population.

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