Religion And Anti Colonialism

Nationalism Movement In Indo-China of Class 10


  •  Religion had a contradictory relationship with the mainstream nationalism. On the one hand, religion played an important role in strengthening the control of the colonial rule. On the other hand, religion also provided strong ways of resistance.
  •  Strengthening the Control of the Colonial Rule: Vietnamese religious beliefs were a mixture of Buddhism, Confucianism and local practices. Many of the rituals were based on superstitions which simply worked to retard the growth of the Vietnamese society.
  • Moreover, Confucianism that formed the basis of many religious beliefs in Vietnam taught the people that the relationship between the ruler and the people was the same as that between children and parents.
  • The colonial power was quick to seize the opportunity. Christianity began to be pushed as an alternative religion. Christianity had a relatively more modern outlook and appealed to large sections of the population. Similarly, there were many popular religions in Vietnam, that were spread by people who claimed to have seen a vision of God. Some of these supported the French. This in turn helped to strengthen the colonial rule.
  •  Resistance to the Colonial Rule: It was religion again that provided strong resistance to the colonial role. The Vietnamese had strong beliefs in Buddhism and Confucianism. Anything different from these was not acceptable to them.
  •  They began to look down on Christianity as a danger to their religion. Similarly, there were many popular movements that inspired emotions against the colonial rule.


An early movement against French control and the spread of Christianity was the Scholars Revolt in 1868. The revolt was led by officials at the imperial court who were against the spread Catholicism and French power. They led a general uprising in NGU and Ha Tine provinces where over a thousand Catholics were killed. The French crushed the movement but this uprising served to inspire other patriots to rise up against them.


The movement was launched by Huynh Phu in 1939 and gained great popularity in the fertile Mekong delta area. Most of his followers were Vietnamese nationalists. His criticism against useless expenditure had a wide appeal. He also opposed the sale of child brides, gambling and the use of alcohol and opium. The movement played a major role in arousing anti-imperialist sentiments, The French tried to suppress the movement inspired by Huynh Phu so. They declared him mad, called him the mad bonze, and put him in a mental asylum. The French authorities exiled him to Laos and sent many of his followers to concentration camps.

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