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Did religious orders in the New World focus on education or conversion more?

Religious orders in the New World primarily focused on conversion, although education was also a significant aspect.

In the New World, the primary objective of religious orders, particularly those from Catholic Spain and Portugal, was the conversion of indigenous populations to Christianity. This was driven by a combination of religious zeal and the belief that conversion was a necessary step towards 'civilising' the indigenous people. The religious orders, such as the Franciscans, Dominicans, and Jesuits, were often at the forefront of these conversion efforts. They established missions throughout the Americas, where they would preach the Christian faith, baptise new converts, and attempt to eradicate indigenous religious practices.

However, education was also a significant aspect of their work. The religious orders recognised that in order to effectively convert and control the indigenous populations, they needed to communicate with them and understand their cultures. As a result, they established schools and colleges to educate the indigenous people, often in their own languages. These institutions taught not only religious doctrine but also European arts, sciences, and other aspects of European culture. The Jesuits, in particular, were known for their emphasis on education.

In some cases, the religious orders also used education as a tool for conversion. They believed that by educating the indigenous people in the Christian faith, they could more effectively persuade them to abandon their traditional beliefs and practices. This was particularly the case in areas where the indigenous populations were resistant to conversion.

Despite the emphasis on education, however, the primary focus of the religious orders in the New World remained conversion. This was reflected in their policies, their allocation of resources, and their interactions with the indigenous populations. Even their educational efforts were often geared towards this end, with the ultimate goal of creating a Christian, Europeanised society in the New World.

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