An Unholy Alliance

Tonight TPQ features guest writer the former Blanket columnist  Dr John Coulter with a piece that first appeared in Volume 2 Issue 7 Politics First June 2012
China, India and Brazil – at first sight this seems the unlikeliest of global economic power blocs, until you factor in the long-term influence of evangelical Christian missionaries from the United Kingdom during the 19th and 20th centuries.

While the world’s media appears totally focused on the political fallout from the activities of militant Islamic fundamentalism, the quiet, unassuming financial revolution known as the Missionary Majority has gone virtually undetected.
The opening decades of the 21st century have witnessed the steady expansion of the Chinese, Indian and Brazilian economies, not just within their own individual borders, but as world financial trend setters.

Politically, the UK and Republic of Ireland boasted that their economies were based on the once-powerful Church/State relationship. In Britain, the Anglican Communion reigned supreme. In the Irish Republic, the Catholic bishops had a major say in the development of the so-called Celtic Tiger economy.
But that is no longer the case as the UK and Ireland witness the shattering of the once impregnable Church/State control. The Republic has been shocked by the clerical child abuse revelations.
Britain has been left reeling religiously as the Church of England rips itself apart over the issues of women clergy and gay marriage. The openly knock-on effect has been to radically promote those lobbying for secular and pluralist societies in the UK and Ireland.
Indeed, reverse evangelism is now the holy order of the day in both nations. This is where nations which the UK and Ireland once used to pour its Christian missionaries into, are now sending missionaries to the British Isles to convert the ‘Home Countries’ back to Biblical Christianity.
The long-term impact of the 19th and 20th century evangelical missionaries to China, India and Brazil should not be underestimated. In converting thousands to Biblical Christianity, they strongly encouraged those new converts to adopt a very pro-active work ethic.
As a primary school child in Northern Ireland in the Sixties, every Sunday I sat beside Miss Nancy Alexander, a retired mainstream Irish Presbyterian overseas missionary. Indeed, the church we attended – Clough Presbyterian, near Ballymena in the heart of County Antrim’s Bible Belt – also held the accolade of sending the first Irish Presbyterian missionary abroad.
Nancy was not a Hell-fire, tub-thumping firebrand more akin to Ian Paisley-style Christian fundamentalism, or razzamatazz American tele-evangelism. She was a typical, quiet evangelist who gently encouraged her overseas flocks to simply express their ‘born again’ faith by working hard.
Multiply Nancy’s ethos by thousands over the period of about 100 years and you have the end result of a powerful economic grouping emerging in the world with a highly influential, evangelical Christian dimension.

In China, in spite of the atheistic communist revolution under Mao, the Christian church flourished as an underground movement. The 21st century Chinese economy is now so stable, its leadership has even suggested bailing out the crisis-stricken eurozone.
India, with its huge manpower resources, is one of the fastest growing economies in the Far Eastern region. Next to Africa and China, India was a ‘top target’ for Christian missionaries. After independence from the British Empire in the post World War Two era, India did not abandon the Christian work ethic firmly implanted in the nation by those dedicated missionaries.
The religious Pentecostal movement in Brazil is expanding at such a rate, it will soon outnumber the traditional Catholic Church as the country’s leading faith. Pentecostalism as a theology has always had as its political pillar, the New Testament Beatitudes of Jesus Christ.
It is a radical example of Christian socialism in action – work hard to build your country’s economy.
The financial success of China, India and Brazil has also prompted the question – why hasn’t the concept of the Missionary Majority worked in Africa, given how famine, AIDS and civil war has ravaged that continent since many of those nations gained independence from their colonial masters?
The answer is deceptively simple. While China, India and Brazil maintained their Christian ethos especially in their economic policies, many of the African nations returned to their tribal conflicts after independence. They basically turned their backs on the work of the missionaries.
While many in the Christian community want the former 20th century empires to return to Africa to re-colonise the continent as an economic solution, the reality is that it will be the new Missionary Majority bloc of China, India and Brazil who will perform the African colonisation.

Dr John Coulter is a political columnist with the Irish Daily Star.


  1. John,

    as always you manage to take a completely different look at things. But for me I have long taken the view that the last real Christian was crucified. The pope gangsters that picked up the baton and put it in places it was never meant to go are an act no believer should really want to follow

  2. ‘In China, in spite of the atheistic communist revolution under Mao, the Christian church flourished as an underground movement.’

    “Since the establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949 by the Communist Party of China, Catholicism, like all religions, has only been permitted to operate under the supervision of the State Administration for Religious Affairs. All worship must legally be conducted through state-approved churches belonging to the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CPA), which does not accept the primacy of the Roman Pontiff.

    Clergy who resisted this development were subject to oppression, including long imprisonments…, and torture and martyrdom…

    Several underground Catholic bishops have been reported disappeared or imprisoned, and harassment of unregistered bishops and priests is common…. Chinese authorities also have reportedly pressured Catholics to break communion with the Vatican by requiring them to renounce an essential belief in Roman Catholicism, the primacy of the Roman Pontiff.”

    Sounds just like what atheists are advocating in Ireland, on the Pensive Quil and elsewhere. But they will be resisted.

    As for the main thrust for the article. I shall never understand why so many protestants see religion in terms of economics rather that eternal salvation. They started off by sying ‘Faith alone justifies’ and ended by replacing Faith with human progress.

  3. ‘The religious Pentecostal movement in Brazil is expanding at such a rate, it will soon outnumber the traditional Catholic Church as the country’s leading faith.’

    I don’t believe this is drawn out by the figures. A Wikipedia article gives the number of Catholics as 138,000,000 or 68% of the population, with 17,617,307 Pentecostals, or 10.37% of the population.

  4. John this entire contribution is based on an chauvinistic ethnocentrism that borders racism.

    So the great nations of the Aztec and incans didn't have a work ethic before they were converted/wiped out by European missionaries? The native american way of life was not progressive? Utter nonsense.