Christianity was one justification that European powers used to colonize and exploit Africa, adduces Fidel Hart of ProPublic Africa.
Through the dissemination of Christian doctrine, European nations such as Great Britain, France, and the Netherlands sought to educate and reform African culture.
In his book A History of Africa, scholar J.D. Fage describes the racially based logic of European intellectuals and missionaries saying: “Mid-and late-nineteenth-century Europeans were generally convinced that their Christian, scientific and industrial society was intrinsically far superior to anything that Africa had produced.”
To many European nations, Christianity represented western civilization and the basis for Anglo-Saxon morality. Christianity served as a major force in the partition and eventual colonization of Africa.
Furthermore European missionaries called upon the tenets of Christianity to spread what they believed was a just and compassionate doctrine. In practice, they were used to degrade the culture and society of the African people. Under the pretense of humanitarian theology, European powers strategically implemented Christianity as a divisive imperialistic tool.
King Leopold 1 of Belgium dispelled any doubts that there might have been as to the motive or objective of the Christian mission to Africa.
Addressing Belgian Christian missionaries being sent to the Congo in 1883, the King had written as follows:
“Reverends, Fathers and Dear Compatriots:
The task that is given to fulfill is very delicate and requires much tact. You will go certainly to evangelize, but your evangelization must inspire, above all, Belgian interests. Your principal objective in our mission in the Congo is never to teach the niggers to know God, this they know already. They speak to a Mungu, one Nzambi, one Nzakomba, and what else I don’t know.
They know that to kill, to sleep with some else’s wife, to lie and to insult is bad. Have courage to admit it, you are not going to teach them what they know already.
Your essential work is to facilitate the task of administrators and industrials, which means you will go to interpret the gospel in the way it will be the best to protect your interests in that part of the world. For these things, you will have to keep watch on dis-interesting our savages from the riches that is plenty (in their underground) to avoid that they get interested in it, and make you murderous competitors and dream one day to overthrow you.
Your knowledge of the gospel will allow you to find texts ordering, and encouraging your followers to love poverty, like, “Happier are the poor because they will inherit the heaven” and, ”It’s very difficult for the rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
You have to detach from them and make them disrespect everything which gives courage to affront us. I make reference to their Mystic System and their war fetish – warfare protection – which they pretend not to want to abandon, and you must do everything in your power to make it disappear.
Your action will be directed essentially to the younger ones, for they won’t revolt when the recommendation of the Priest is contradictory to their parent’s teachings.
The children have to learn to obey what the missionary recommends, who is the father of their soul. You must singularly insist on their total submission and obedience, avoid developing the spirit in the schools, teach Black students to read and not to reason.
These, dear patriots, are some of the principles that you must apply. You will find many other books, which will be given to you at the end of this conference. Evangelize the niggers so that they stay forever in submission to the White colonialists, so that they never revolt against restraints they are undergoing. Recite every day –”Happy are those who are weeping, because the kingdom is for them.”
Convert always the Blacks by using the whip. Keep their women in nine months of submission to work freely for us. Force them to pay in sign of recognition – goats, chicken or eggs – every time you visit their villages. And make sure that niggers never become rich. Sing every day that it is impossible for the rich to enter heaven. Make them pay tax each week at Sunday Mass.
Use the money supposed for the poor, to build flourishing business centres.
Institute a confessional system, which allows you to be good detectives, denouncing any Black that has a different consciousness contrary to that of the decision-maker.
Teach the niggers to forget their heroes and to adore only ours. Never present a chair to a Black that comes to visit you. Don’t give him more than one cigarette.
Never invite him for dinner even if he gives you a chicken every time you arrive at his house.”
Let Christ be true, but let every Christian doctrine be put to scrutiny.