Were colonial missions a form of effective altruism by the church?

2021.09.18 11:45 elcric_krej Were colonial missions a form of effective altruism by the church?

One thing I've heard claimed before is that EA is value-system agnostic. I've heard this in reply to asking how EA philosophy addresses the repugnant conclusion, the hard problem of consciousness and other paradoxes associated with various forms of utilitarianism.
The follow-up to this is that it just so happens that a lot of EA people are utilitarians, but in theory, charities drive by a variety of values systems might just as well take an EA approach.
Indeed, the vast majority of EA-driven projects are value-positive or value-neutral under a very large swath of moral system. Most flavours Christian or Muslim values, for example, would be perfectly happy with the reduction in malaria cases in Africa, even though they might hold them as not the most immediate priority. The same goes for a "care ethics" approach or just whatever "built-in" ethics most people that give no thought to the subject have in the vast majority of cultures.
But, under this framing, would it be reasonable to say Christian missions in the 15th to 19th century were a form of effective altruism?
In that, under the respective value system, they were doing the most possible amount of good to the largest amount of people. Indeed, even now I assume the catholic church could argue that "this worked" given the amount of Christians in South America and Africa.
Obviously, Christian missions motivated, assisted and ignored a large amount of suffering in the form of colonialism, from slavery, to class distinction, to (most importantly) the spread of diseases. The church, broadly speaking, was no facilitating any of these directly, and in the case of disease, it had no way of even knowing of this implication. However, the spread of religion was the fundamental motivation of many of these expeditions and the thing that gave them "moral" justification, motivating more funding, widespread public support and gave "men of morals" an excuse or motive to join.
That being said what I'm painting here is kind of a naive picture of missionaries and I might be entirely wrong. Still, given this intuition I'm curios: 1. Would colonial missions fall under effective altruism as understood today (given an attempt at applying it under prevailing morals and with the scientific tools available at the time)? 2. Would it constitute a fair empirical critique of the current EA (or could one argue it might have been useful on the net)? 3. Assuming 1 and 2 stand, was there or would there be a warrant for a more in-depth analysis of the topic in order to weigh the potential unknown downsides of EA as practised today?
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