Essays in this section:
to missionaries, before their arrival in
of the missionaries came to
the two groups of people living in
whites were sometimes brutal when it came to oppressing the work of
the missionaries. They passed
religiously intolerant laws, forbidding the missionaries from preaching
and giving serious punishments to anyone found preaching.
These laws were later dropped, but they took a toll on the ability
of the missionaries to Christianize the island in the way that they
had wanted. In 1831-1832, after
the rebellion of the “Baptist War,” the whites destroyed and burned
the missionaries' churches. On
other occasions churches were defaced while the police turned their
heads, rarely taking legal action against the criminals.
There were also outbursts of violence towards the preachers themselves.
Dr. Coke, of the Wesleyan missionaries, was attacked in the late
1780's by a mob of white men who didn't like his sermon on
Although many whites tried to stop the progression of missionary work, some whites accepted and supported the missionaries. They opened their homes to the missionaries and their families, and they donated money to help build meetinghouses, churches and schools. There were slave owners that requested that the missionaries come to their estate preach to them and their slaves. They would give the slaves time off to hear the sermons, and in some cases, would insist on and pay for the baptism of all of their slaves. As generous and Christian as this may seem, the master and the preacher actually had a hidden agenda. The master thought that once the slaves were baptized they would have no interest in actually practicing Christianity, thus avoiding the issue of education, literacy and critical thinking for the slaves. This was an intelligent theory on the part of the master, because many slaves did not go to sermons once they had been baptized. 
The second group of people that the missionaries intended to Christianize was the black slaves. For the most part the missionaries were well received by the slaves and their teachings were embraced. Even so, Christianizing the blacks would prove to be more difficult than Christianizing the whites for several reasons. Most of the black slaves were not fluent in English and many were illiterate. This meant that for the missionaries preaching and sermons were crucial to get their message across, but the slave owners did not want their slaves to go to sermons morning and night because that would hinder the production of their crops. In many cases a pastor would pick a literate slave to read the Bible and give sermons in his absence. The problem with that—from the missionaries’ point of view—was that the slaves then began interpreting the Bible in their own way and mixing Christianity with their own African religion. This displeased the missionaries because upon their arrival at an estate, they would be bombarded with questions they thought were ridiculous. One instance was a group of slaves who insisted that John the Baptist was the Son of God because he baptized Jesus. The slaves thought that if Jesus was the son of God that his name should be Jesus the Baptist. Another problem for the missionaries was the distance of the parishes from where the slaves lived, if there was no parish near an estate it was nearly impossible for a slave to go to a sermon. There are recorded instances when slaves would walk twenty miles or more on a Saturday night after working in the fields all day to arrive at a sermon on Sunday just to have to turn around and walk home. Many slaves converted to Christianity for the simple reason that they thought if they were baptized it would protect them from Obeah, an African religious belief that is based on the casting of spells. 
Some groups of slaves in distant parts of the island were not violent towards the missionaries, but still did not accept their teachings. There were some areas of the island where the slaves had no interest in Christianity or missionaries. According to the Baptists, these blacks were heathens and living in sin. The churches would be nearly empty and the missionaries would leave due to lack of interest in their sermons.
Although there were many missionaries that were honest and decent, there were just as many who were not. Many of the missionaries took advantage of the old and uneducated slaves. The missionaries bartered their religious teachings for money and convinced the slaves to buy religious materials at inflated prices. One a Baptist preacher turned slave children away from his school because they did not have the 1-pound 'tax' required to attend. Some pastors made slaves to pay to be baptized, pay yearly dues to attend church and pay monthly communion fees. Because the missionaries took as much money as they could get, they were nicknamed “macaroon hunters” by the slaves. 
Missionaries undertook the task of
Christianizing the people on the
 Peter Duncan, A Narrative of
 Sir George Henry Rose, A Letter
on the Means and Importance of Converting Slaves to Christianity, (
 J.H. Buchner
The Moravians in
 Nancy Gardener Prince, The