Christian Communities in Southeast Asia

Tara Villalba Munson

in The Oxford Handbook of Global Religions

Published in print October 2006 | ISBN: 9780195137989
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology

 Christian Communities in Southeast Asia

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Christianity in Southeast Asia is part of a rich tapestry of global religious traditions that include Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam. In mainland Southeast Asia, Christianity competes with Buddhism, which has been enshrined as the state religion in Myanmar and Cambodia, and is widely practiced in Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand. Christianity first came to mainland Southeast Asia through the French in Vietnam. Although Christianity started to arrive in Vietnam in the 1300s, proselytizing from the Roman Catholic missionaries began in earnest in the 1500s. In the same way that China served as the initial base for Western missionaries to evangelize in Indochina and the Malay Archipelago, Vietnam served in a similar way for missionaries proselytizing in Laos, Myanmar, and Cambodia. Thus, Christianity in nationalist Laos, Myanmar, and Cambodia was seen as foreign because it came from two groups of outsiders: the European colonizers and missionaries, and the Vietnamese who spread it further into Indochina.

Keywords: Christianity; Southeast Asia; Buddhism; Vietnam; missionaries; Laos; Myanmar; Cambodia; colonizers; Indochina

Article.  3555 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Interfaith Relations ; Christianity

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