Chapter 4 traces the logic American missionaries employed in advocating Sunday schools as a suitable answer to their problem of finding audiences for their message. Bazaar-preaching did not produce many converts. Missionaries tried to expand the notion of itinerant preaching: rather than merely present Christianity as a personal path to a secure afterlife, they attempted holding out prospects for a better standard of living for all in this world if they accepted Christianity. The responses usually were those of admiration for the material facts they presented about “Christian countries,” but accompanied by an assertive rejection of any notion of Christian causality. The recalcitrance of their ill-educated adult interlocutors frustrated missionaries and their attention thence turned to children. However, thanks to the availability of government grants-in-aid after 1854, there was increased competition in education from non-Christian groups wanting to set up government-approved secular schools. It was in this context that missionaries felt that Sunday schools, being independent of government funds, could teach Christian doctrine without fear of interference. Further, they expected thousands of non-Christians, eager for any education in English, to attend Sunday Schools, disregarding the evangelical intent of the schools’ sponsors. The India Sunday School Union was formed in 1876 following extensive pan-denominational missionary discussions on the need for a formal organization patterned after “modern” Western bureaucracies, educational systems, armies, and so forth. The chapter details the methods, including the use of advertising, small bribes, and favor-seeking with influential, Christian-minded colonial officials, by which missionaries assembled students. The chapter ends with a statistical review of Sunday school attendance in the last two decades of the nineteenth century.
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