One of the largest religions in the world is Christianity. The large influence of Christianity is attributed to its spread throughout the world. Plantations, like those of Hawaii, outsourced cheap labor from other countries. It gave impoverished people in those countries a chance at a better life. When Chinese workers were selected for indentured labor, many were non-Christians. They encountered various problems which contributed to a negative experience working. The introduction of Christianity to the Chinese improved the experience of indentured Chinese workers. Three problems that the conversion to Christianity has solved are lack of interpreters, unmanageable recruits, and negativity between ethnic groups on plantations.
The language barrier was a large hurdle to clear for indentured Chinese workers. Many of the places indentured Chinese workers worked, spoke predominantly English. The other groups that worked alongside the Chinese didn’t have a common language. Misunderstandings would often arise on incoming ships leading to attacks on the crew by the laborers (Lutz 141). When misunderstandings would occur, the use of translators like priests helps clear them up. The values of Christianity served as the answerer to the questions they had. The conversion to Christianity bridged the language gap and provided the indentured Chinese workers with reassurance.
Recruited non-Christian indentured Chinese workers were observed to be less manageable and organized. The labor was intense and many workers often never got along with other groups, but indentured work was still an opportunity for a better life. Wilhelm Lobscheid played a large role in the recruitment of workers and influenced the regulation of the indentured work system. He argued that the conversion to Christianity, “brought greater orderliness among the recruits and made them more amenable to discipline” (Lutz 140). When recruiting for more indentured laborers, those who have converted to Christianity were more likely to be selected. They seemed to have connected with planters more due to sharing a common religion, as such increased the likelihood of selection for an opportunity to a better life. Its role, in this case, helped to create a sense of order and unity.
On plantations, there was some animosity between ethnic groups while working. This was especially true between the Chinese and other ethnic groups. The planters would use this to their advantage as ethnic groups would rarely cooperate in a dispute between workers and plantation owners (Lutz 139). With the conversion to Christianity, the relations between the ethnic groups improved. This is likely the case because of the values within Christianity emphasize good morals. Christianity provided a common ground between ethnic groups.
The teachings and values of Christianity were key to the indentured laborers. The conversion to Christianity drastically improved the experience of indentured labor for indentured Chinese workers by bridging the language, developing order and unity, and mediating conflicts between ethnic groups. These improved experiences for the Chinese allowed them to stay in the places they worked and seek other financial opportunities such as shopkeeping. Many indentured Chinese workers stayed in Hawaii and added to the cultural melting pot, developing the unique and diverse culture of the islands.