Some of India’s anti-conversion laws cover such issues os evangelizing to children without consulting their parents and other similar acts. There is also strong social pressure with the underlying threat of violence to not actively convert Hindus.
The major apeal of Christianity to India’s poor is three fold. First off, it is a casteless religion, which has always been a pretty easy sell (note that every one of the great religions that formed in India after Hinduism emphasize throwing off the caste system, although it lingers in most all communities). Secondly, in India it is largely a feminine religion and offers a place for poor women that they can’t find in either Hinduism or Islam. Finally, historically Christianity took root in the South, which tends to be poorer more divided. Moreover, the people of south India are ethnically and linguistically distinct, some consider modern Hinduism to be a tool of the culturally and politically dominent north.
Outside of India, it seem obvious that society’s “losers” were more dependent on missionaries, actively had their cultures destroyed by Christians (for example, in Guatemala the church along with the Spanish government broke up the villages and forced everyone in to church centered towns, where their labor could better be harnassed.) and were otherwise pretty forcibly made to hide or give up their native religions. I think this can be traced to evangelism and the sense of manifest destiny that evangelism fosters.
Anyway, I don’t think there is any reason why Christianity and Islam in particular are evangelical. Any evangelical religion is going to sink or swim, and of course we only see the swimmers.
There’s also the case of the gods of the conquered people being “seized”, their statues brought in the city or cities of the victorious people so that they could be worshipped there (and the idea was actually that by doing so, they were depriving the conquered people from their gods).
clairobscur, I’m wondering if you have an example in mind. The only one I can think of is the seizure of the ivory Zeus of Olympia (one of the seven ancient wonders) during the late Roman empire, and that I think was done because of its value, not for worship.
My guess is that most temples were looted by conquerors because they typically housed a treasury or some priceless artwork; if any idols were seized and brought back to the conqueror’s capital, I doubt they were for worship purposes.