Change over Time: Latin America

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From 1450 to the present, religious beliefs and practices in Latin America changed in that Catholicism and a blend of religions began to be seen throughout Latin America, but continued in that animistic and nature religions still remained. Changes in Latin American religious ideologies are easily seen from 1450 to the present day. A new religion entered their society.

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With the discovery of the new world in 1492 by Columbus, many more conquistadors and explorers would come to colonize and explore the new world.

Also, a group of people called the Jesuits came to the new world. The spread of Catholicism really began in the 1600’s by the Jesuits who controlled much of Latin America at this time, and gave special privileges to those converted. As this was happening Catholicism was being diffused into the society of Latin Americans. However, because the people were so deeply rooted in Indian culture idol worship remained. Another change was that a blend of both Catholicism and animistic religion was being formed in Latin America.

For example, in modern day Mexico, even though they are Catholic, there are legends and stories that talk about El Tio, the God of the Mine, he is supposed to protect the miners from harm in the mine. Another example, is black magic which began to form in the Caribbean. Because Indians were so deeply rooted in their culture, blending of Catholicism and their culture within religion happened. There were also continuities in religion during this time.

First, many animistic and nature religions still continued to play a major role in Latin American societies. The Latin American societies readily supported Catholicism, but held on to their traditional beliefs. One reason they held on to their beliefs was because it was all they had known for hundreds of years, and people who have done something for a very long time are not just going to give up and change it, because it is part of their everyday life.

Also, they did not see a need to give up their animistic beliefs no one was forcing them to give them up. There was only an advantage to joining the Catholic church, because the Jesuits would give you special access to missions, and the opportunity for learning. Similar processes to those seen here were also obvious in Sub-Saharan Africa, seeing as the Europeans colonized and explored there too. Christianity also spread to Sub-Saharan Africa and became a major belief system in both societies even over their animistic beliefs and polytheism.