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Conversion to ChristianityHistorical and Anthropological Perspectives on a Great Transformation$
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Robert Hefner

Print publication date: 1993

Print ISBN-13: 9780520078352

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520078352.001.0001

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Conversion and Colonialism in Northern Mexico: The Tarahumara Response to the Jesuit Mission Program, 1601–1767

Conversion and Colonialism in Northern Mexico: The Tarahumara Response to the Jesuit Mission Program, 1601–1767

Chapter:
(p.129) Chapter Five Conversion and Colonialism in Northern Mexico: The Tarahumara Response to the Jesuit Mission Program, 1601–1767
Source:
Conversion to Christianity
Author(s):

Robert W. Hefner

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520078352.003.0005

This chapter considers the issue of the Tarahumaras' conversion to Christianity. It also addresses why, at the time of the Jesuits' expulsion in 1767, only a small minority of Tarahumaras appear to have been well instructed in the basic tenets of the Catholic faith. It explores some of the limitations of the view that conversion entails a radical shift in the religious beliefs of individuals. A more relativistic concept of conversion is briefly reviewed that is better suited to understanding religious conversion. The Jesuit mission program is divided into mission creation, social, political and technological innovations, and religious life. The Tarahumaras of today consider their ritual actions to be complete unto themselves and to some degree intrinsically efficacious. The ideology of at least some segments of the Catholic church has now been so transformed that the missionaries themselves can contemplate the possibility of converting to the native religion.

Keywords:   Tarahumaras, Christianity, Catholic faith, Jesuit mission program, religious conversion, Catholic church

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