Why the Thai Are Not Christians: Buddhist and Christian Conversion in Thailand

Robert W. Hefner

in Conversion to Christianity

Published by University of California Press

Published in print February 1993 | ISBN: 9780520078352
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520912564 | DOI:
Why the Thai Are Not Christians: Buddhist and Christian Conversion in Thailand

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This chapter tries to answer the question: “Why have Thai not converted to Christianity?” It confines to the confrontation between Christianity and Buddhism in Thailand and to the ways in which these two world religions approach conversion. It starts by introducing a Christian-Buddhist confrontation. It first considers how Buddhism gained acceptance in Thailand and then looks at the efforts of Christian missionaries. There were two major reasons for the early failure of Catholic missionaries in Thailand. The Indigenization of the Catholic church in Thailand prompted a reaction by some conservative Buddhists who perceived a threat from a Christianity that was no longer clearly “foreign.” Both Buddhism and Christianity have offered to adherents of animistic religions not only a more rationalized view of the world but also a more universalistic one.

Keywords: Thai; Christianity; Buddhism; Thailand; Christian; Buddhist; Christian missionaries

Chapter.  11187 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Anthropology of Religion

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