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Wed Feb 27, 2013, 07:26 AM

Were Early Christians Really Persecuted? Historian Reveals the Surprising Truth.

This discussion thread was locked as off-topic by MineralMan (a host of the General Discussion forum).

http://www.alternet.org/belief/were-early-christians-really-persecuted-historian-reveals-surprising-truth



In the immediate aftermath of the Columbine High School massacre, a modern myth was born. A story went around that one of the two killers asked one of the victims, Cassie Bernall, if she believed in God. Bernall reportedly said “Yes” just before he shot her. Bernall’s mother wrote a memoir, titled “She Said Yes: The Unlikely Martyrdom of Cassie Bernall,” a tribute to her daughter’s courageous Christian faith. Then, just as the book was being published, a student who was hiding near Bernall told journalist Dave Cullen that the exchange never happened.

Although Candida Moss’ new book, “The Myth of Persecution: How Early Christians Invented a Story of Martyrdom,” is about the three centuries following the death of Jesus, she makes a point of citing this modern-day parallel. What Bernall truly said and did in the moments before her death absolutely matters, Moss asserts, if we are going to hold her up as a “martyr.” Yet misconceptions and misrepresentations can creep in so soon. The public can get the story wrong even in this highly mediated and thoroughly reported age — and do so despite the presence among us of living eyewitnesses. So what, then, to make of the third-hand, heavily revised, agenda-laden and anachronistic accounts of Christianity’s originalmartyrs?

Moss, professor of New Testament and early Christianity at the University of Notre Dame, challenges some of the most hallowed legends of the religion when she questions what she calls “the Sunday school narrative of a church of martyrs, of Christians huddled in catacombs out of fear, meeting in secret to avoid arrest and mercilessly thrown to lions merely for their religious beliefs.” None of that, she maintains, is true. In the 300 years between the death of Jesus and the conversion of the Emperor Constantine, there were maybe 10 or 12 scattered years during which Christians were singled out for supression by Rome’s imperial authorities, and even then the enforcement of such initiatives was haphazard — lackadaisical in many regions, although harsh in others. “Christians were never,” Moss writes, “the victims of sustained, targeted persecution.”

Much of the middle section of “The Myth of Persecution” is taken up with a close reading of the six “so-called authentic accounts” of the church’s first martyrs. They include Polycarp, a bishop in Smyrna during the second century who was burned at the stake, and Saint Perpetua, a well-born young mother executed in the arena at Carthage with her slave, Felicity, at the beginning of the third century. Moss carefully points out the inconsistencies between these tales and what we know about Roman society, the digs at heresies that didn’t even exist when the martyrs were killed and the references to martyrdom traditions that had yet to be established. There’s surely some kernel of truth to these stories, she explains, as well as to the first substantive history of the church written in 311 by a Palestinian named Eusebius. It’s just that it’s impossible to sort the truth from the colorful inventions, the ax-grinding and the attempts to reinforce the orthodoxies of a later age.

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Reply Were Early Christians Really Persecuted? Historian Reveals the Surprising Truth. (Original post)
xchrom Feb 2013 OP
reformist2 Feb 2013 #1
MNBrewer Feb 2013 #4
Recursion Feb 2013 #14
MNBrewer Feb 2013 #23
sunwyn Feb 2013 #83
OceanEcosystem Feb 2013 #90
A HERETIC I AM Feb 2013 #34
alcibiades_mystery Feb 2013 #43
A HERETIC I AM Feb 2013 #46
Major Nikon Feb 2013 #48
Recursion Feb 2013 #49
Major Nikon Feb 2013 #51
davidthegnome Feb 2013 #63
joeybee12 Feb 2013 #69
midwest irish Feb 2013 #76
joeybee12 Feb 2013 #77
midwest irish Feb 2013 #78
davidthegnome Feb 2013 #79
LibertyLover Feb 2013 #87
ColesCountyDem Feb 2013 #47
riqster Feb 2013 #2
OldDem2012 Feb 2013 #3
MNBrewer Feb 2013 #5
zeemike Feb 2013 #26
A HERETIC I AM Feb 2013 #36
zeemike Feb 2013 #60
Swede Atlanta Feb 2013 #6
MNBrewer Feb 2013 #24
Ikonoklast Feb 2013 #84
intaglio Feb 2013 #7
tavalon Feb 2013 #11
intaglio Feb 2013 #81
el_bryanto Feb 2013 #8
skygazer Feb 2013 #61
randr Feb 2013 #9
SemperEadem Feb 2013 #12
Zax2me Feb 2013 #13
randr Feb 2013 #15
midwest irish Feb 2013 #80
reformist2 Feb 2013 #17
Zax2me Feb 2013 #10
Fumesucker Feb 2013 #16
SkyDaddy7 Feb 2013 #21
OceanEcosystem Feb 2013 #37
Arugula Latte Feb 2013 #62
Zax2me Feb 2013 #18
deutsey Feb 2013 #22
ET Awful Feb 2013 #42
OceanEcosystem Feb 2013 #19
OceanEcosystem Feb 2013 #20
Fumesucker Feb 2013 #53
MotherPetrie Feb 2013 #25
mountain grammy Feb 2013 #27
OceanEcosystem Feb 2013 #29
mountain grammy Feb 2013 #30
OceanEcosystem Feb 2013 #33
mountain grammy Feb 2013 #39
OceanEcosystem Feb 2013 #44
Fumesucker Feb 2013 #88
OceanEcosystem Feb 2013 #89
Marr Feb 2013 #72
dmallind Feb 2013 #41
OceanEcosystem Feb 2013 #45
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dmallind Feb 2013 #57
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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 07:28 AM

1. The first minority group in history that wasn't persecuted? I don't think so.

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Response to reformist2 (Reply #1)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 08:08 AM

4. Romans were well-known for tolerating religious diversity, weren't they?

As long as people gave the Emperor sufficient deference. In the article, it states that some of the Christians actively sought out martyrdom with regard to that requirement. The only state-sponsored "persecution" of Christians was a short period in the reign of Emperor Diocletian between 303 and 306.

So no, they weren't "persecuted".

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Response to MNBrewer (Reply #4)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 08:58 AM

14. They seemed to like killing Jews, and Christians were considered a sub-sect of Judaism

at least until 100 or so.

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Response to Recursion (Reply #14)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 09:16 AM

23. They liked killing

Not particularly killing Jews, except for those who caused trouble such as not acknowledging the divinity of the emperor. They also had no problem killing germanic people who caused problems.

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Response to MNBrewer (Reply #23)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 01:39 PM

83. Wasn't Saul/Paul a Jew who persecuted Christians? I am not very versed in Christian history any

longer...I have been a heathen for a very long time.

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Response to sunwyn (Reply #83)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 02:17 PM

90. Yes, that is what Saul/Paul did. n/t.

 

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Response to Recursion (Reply #14)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 10:01 AM

34. "At least until 100 or so"

Much of what I have read about the early history of the church indicates that Christianity was virtually unheard of for the better part of the first TWO centuries of the common era.

Basically, it was an upstart religion that took a very long time to gain even a foothold, much less become known to authorities.

For the first 200 years after Jesus' supposed advent the Romans didn't give a flying crap about yet another in a long line of tiny cults.

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Response to A HERETIC I AM (Reply #34)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 10:20 AM

43. There were literally thousands of little sects in the first two centuries CE

The idea that any central Roman authority focused on one is laughable. The book likely demonstrates what anybody who has done any significant historical work on the period has known for a long time: local authorities dealt with religious issues as they came up and only in the context of whether they disrupted other concerns (particularly business and military concerns). The proliferation of sects - especially in the provinces - was never really at the forefront of the Roman political concern. The Romans were "tolerationists" (to use an unfortunate 17th century concept), except when you fucked with the bottom line.

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Response to alcibiades_mystery (Reply #43)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 10:25 AM

46. Precisely. Well said. n/t

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Response to Recursion (Reply #14)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 10:35 AM

48. Actually they co-existed with Jewish religious leaders quite well

The Romans saw religion for exactly what it is which is a very efficient means to control the masses.

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Response to Major Nikon (Reply #48)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 10:36 AM

49. Funny, Vespasian disagrees with you...

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Response to Recursion (Reply #49)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 10:41 AM

51. So the Jews revolted 3 times for about a dozen years total

Doesn't seem to make a convincing case. The Romans used religion to their benefit. That doesn't mean they didn't sometimes oppose it when it ran counter to their interests.

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Response to MNBrewer (Reply #4)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 12:22 PM

63. Why don't you ask the druids?

There were once quite a lot of them in ancient Britannia and Gaul.

No. The Romans really weren't tolerant of religious diversity.

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Response to davidthegnome (Reply #63)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 12:39 PM

69. Yes, they were...this was about conquering a people, not a religion...

As long as you pledged allegiance to Rome, all was good and you could worship anything you wanted.

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Response to joeybee12 (Reply #69)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 12:55 PM

76. "all was good and you could worship anything you wanted."

 

Roman emperors were believed to be demi-gods of sorts. You needed to pay homage to their gods. You could have your own religion, but they just figured you were worshiping the same gods just with different names. The Jews wouldnt play ball....not after the babylonian exile. That was the issue.

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Response to midwest irish (Reply #76)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 12:58 PM

77. No

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Response to joeybee12 (Reply #77)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 01:01 PM

78. Seriously

 

Can you list your qualifications on the topic?

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Response to joeybee12 (Reply #69)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 01:03 PM

79. And they paved your streets with gold?

Guess we read very different history books

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Response to davidthegnome (Reply #63)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 02:07 PM

87. The main reason the Romans tried to get rid of the Druids

was because the Druids were shoring up the Britons and Gaulish tribes as they tried to resist Roman conquest. It was pretty much purely political. One of the reasons why Julius Caesar wrote nasty things about the Druids was to get the Roman public behind his attempts to eliminate them. In the main the Roman empire was pretty laissez-faire about religions. So long as you honored the emperor by burning some incense to his statue once a year or so, they didn't care who or what your religion was. Because the Jews would not, indeed could not, worship the emperor, they were legally exempt under most emperors' reigns from the need to sacrifice to the emperor. So long as Christianity was classed by the Romans as a subset of Judaism, early Christians fell under this legal exemption too. It was only when both Jews and Christians agreed that Christianity was its own religion that trouble started. Christian religion was termed "superstitio" by the empire and there were some persecutions. Reading late Roman empire history rather than early Christian history, you find that the persecutions were not as brutal, widespread, inclusive and awful as originally billed.

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Response to reformist2 (Reply #1)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 10:30 AM

47. Early Christians WERE persecuted, but largely by Pharisaic Jews.

As others point out, the Romans did persecute Christians, occasionally; that said, the vast majority of persecution occurred at the hands of Pharisaic Jews, who considered the early Christians as 'heretical Jews'.

Punishment of 'crimes' was placed in Roman civil authorities' hands, but the Romans often deferred to the local population regarding what constituted a 'crime' over and above Roman standards. Thus, if the local Pharisees got hot under the collar regarding their neighborhood heretics, the civil authorities could usually be persuaded to punish those heretics to some degree.

Read the Apostle Paul's letters, if you doubt the truth of the above: he made it quite clear that it was the Pharisees who raised a stink and caused him to be imprisoned.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 07:36 AM

2. I'd have to read it to believe it. nt

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 08:01 AM

3. How better to sell a book than to create a controversy, especially one centered around....

....a closely-held belief of the early Christian story-line.

Just my opinion, but I think there are probably enough historical accounts about the Roman treatment of slaves, prisoners, and enemies to make the persecution of yet another Roman minority group entirely believable.

On the other hand, we have a difficult time sorting out what actually happened historically two or three hundred years ago, much less two thousand years ago from the ruins of a past civilization.

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Response to OldDem2012 (Reply #3)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 08:10 AM

5. Sacred cow makes the tastiest burgers.

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Response to OldDem2012 (Reply #3)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 09:32 AM

26. yet another disassembling theory.

I think 2000 years from now someone will do the same to the Holocaust...and will use the writings of present day deniers as evidence that it may have happened but not so much as to be so bad.
But this will sell books, because there are people out there ready to believe anything that discredits religion.

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Response to zeemike (Reply #26)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 10:02 AM

36. As are there people that are willing to believe....

Just about ANY bullshit story.

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Response to A HERETIC I AM (Reply #36)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 11:25 AM

60. Well true enough.

Just as there are those that will disbelieve any story about something they have already decided is bullshit story.
The truth lies somewhere between the extremes as is usually the case.
And that is whey productive conversations are near impossible on the subject.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 08:10 AM

6. I don't have a hard time believing this and I am a Christian......

 

As the author notes, there were periods of time during which Christians were targeted and there are numerous individual cases of notorious persecutions and martyrdoms. But to say that Christians were relentlessly and perpetually persecuted for 300 years is difficult to believe. Minority populations and prejudice and persecution of them historically tends to be cyclical with small bursts here and there but it is an ebb and flow.

Just one example were the pogroms against the Jews in Russia. Yes they happened and they were horrific. But they came in waves but not a consistent, sustained persecution over time.

Persecution of minorities is most intense when mainstream society or political power feels vulnerable and needs to show strength or find a scapegoat to blame and punish for some calamity.

It is true that Romans in general were tolerant of other religions provided those that practiced them paid homage to the Roman gods and Christians would not do that.

We know that much of the history of Christians and the Christian church, as told by believers, is exaggerated at best and at times totally false.

So I wouldn't be so quick to discount this assertion that martyrdom was not as prevalent, persistent and pervasive as we have been led to believe.

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Response to Swede Atlanta (Reply #6)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 09:18 AM

24. I got the impression from the article

that the only Roman god the Romans cared about being acknowledged was the emperor. And those who wouldn't do that were taken care of, the same way they took care of other troublemakers, like thieves and rapists.

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Response to MNBrewer (Reply #24)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 01:46 PM

84. This. Not sacrificing to the emperor was tantamount to treason.

Even the subjugated Jews had problems with this.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 08:14 AM

7. There was a well attested persecution

But it was a persecution of Jews following the 3 great rebellions and the subsequent Diaspora.

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Response to intaglio (Reply #7)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 08:53 AM

11. And then that little incident in Germany

Hate to invoke Godwin so early, but, yeah, Christians have been screaming persecution for thousands of years while Jews have been living it.

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Response to tavalon (Reply #11)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 01:07 PM

81. Deviation from the point

Which was that the Romans did carry out persecutions, many of them and that they are all well attested. Any persecution of Christians was brief and minimal.

From the Roman PoV the Jews were no different to any other client people. The 3 revolts, as was the Roman way with all revolts, were stamped on - hard - but similar punishments were meted out to the Carthaginians, the Iberians and others. The Romans erasing Iudea was rare but not unknown either in the Roman Empire or to other ancient powers. The punishment of the Jewish may have morphed into a mindset that later led to post Roman persecutions but otherwise has little bearing on the modern world.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 08:25 AM

8. Is it history or is it really a commentary on modern times?

I haven't read it, so the history might be very strong, but when you are making that strong a comparison to Christians as they stand right now in America I am a little suspicious.

Claims of persecution right now among Christians are largely (but not entirely) nonsensical or a reflection of the fact that Christianity used to run things, and now they don't and Christians don't like that. American Christianity is the dominant religion in the United States, and has no trouble throwing its weight around.

Christianity in the first couple of centuries of existence wasn't the dominant religion. So I don't know if it's really comparable, even if some of the Martyrdom stories were embellished or fabricated.

Bryant

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Response to el_bryanto (Reply #8)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 12:02 PM

61. It doesn't sound like a comparison of the situation so much as a note on the way myths take root

But I would have to read it to know if that's so. Which I might - it sounds like an interesting read.

I do agree that there's always a problem comparing past events with those of modern times. I recently read a piece that tried to use modern psychological theory to explain the European witch-hunts of the 16th century. It didn't work well in my mind.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 08:44 AM

9. Far more Christians have suffered at the hands of other

Christians than the Roman Empire. To this day Christian sects are slaughtering other Christian sects in Africa as one example.

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Response to randr (Reply #9)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 08:55 AM

12. I agree--the wars of religion in Europe and Britain during the Renaissance period is proof enough

Ever since Martin Luther tacked the 95 thesis to the cathedral doors in Wittenberg to the St. Bartholemew's Day Massacre and Phillip II of Spain's bloodthirsty covetous appetite for the English throne and his meddling in French affairs of state, they've set upon one another time and time again.

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Response to randr (Reply #9)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 08:57 AM

13. hello - in Africa, Muslims are slaughtering Christians on a MUCH larger scale.

 

Than Christian against Christian violence.
Or is pointing out that fact about Muslims too 'sensitive' to mention?

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Response to Zax2me (Reply #13)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 08:59 AM

15. Not at all

and this somehow justifies other violence??

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Response to randr (Reply #15)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 01:06 PM

80. "and this somehow justifies other violence??"

 

Yes, because that is exactly what the above post was saying

Its responses like this that make it difficult to ever call out violence and persecution in the developing (especially Islamic) world. As soon as liberals notes it they are berated and accused of supporting white power and the Bush wars for oil. There was a female scholar of Muslim/middle eastern descent who wrote on this. She said liberals are quiet about the violence and intolerance in the Islamic world because bringing it up is seen as justification of right-wing doctrine.

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Response to randr (Reply #9)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 09:00 AM

17. Ancient Rome had a whopping 1 million people in the city limits.

Numerical comparisons of persecutions between then and now aren't really appropriate.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 08:50 AM

10. OMG...Were slaves REALLY mistreated?

 

What a crock of shit.
No, Christians were never posted to stakes, burned at the stake, fed to lions for amusement.

It's small-minded pieces like this that help me understand racism towards non-white races. No, I don't agree with them, but I do understand it better. 'Progressives' exhibiting the EXACT same attitudes towards one specific religion the way racist whites white see blacks -
Idiots all.

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Response to Zax2me (Reply #10)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 09:00 AM

16. There were slaves of all races and religions that Romans came in contact with

The point is that Christians were not singled out for special abuse by the Roman empire.

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Response to Zax2me (Reply #10)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 09:13 AM

21. WOW!?!?

I don't ever remember African Americans having full control over what people do, say, think & using draconian torture to make folks change their minds about what they thought & how they viewed the world like Christians had for more than 1500yrs.

Christians still today are spending tens of millions of dollars to prevent people from marrying who they love & to prevent women from having control over their own bodies...And that is just in America!

Look at how Christians speak about Atheist & Agnostics...These minority groups have long been demonized by Christians to this day!

As long as Christians continue to try & control people's lives, it is the 21st century, & folks will fight back now that they do not have to worry about being locked up, persecuted & even burned at the stake like they did just 200-300yrs ago.

Trying to draw the parallel that Christians are discriminated against as much as African Americans is SAD!!

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Response to Zax2me (Reply #10)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 10:02 AM

37. Agree!

 

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Response to Zax2me (Reply #10)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 12:18 PM

62. Over the centuries Christianity has tended to be the oppressor, not the oppressee.

Look at the fucking abusive, murderous Catholic Church and the crimes against humanity it has committed. Look at the way psychofundies are still trying to outlaw abortion and even birth control right here in our own country. Look at the Mormon power behind Prop 8.

So, the widespread aversion and disgust toward Christianity it is completely understandable. Why should the chicken love Colonel Sanders?

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 09:03 AM

18. Wake up call for the in denial brigade

 

ATTeeeeeeeeenTION!

There's no shortage of harrowing stories of life under Islamist militants in northern Mali.
http://www.cnn.com/2013/01/24/world/africa/mali-victims-speak-out/index.html

Christians killed in Nigeria attack
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/africa/2010/07/201071717329277497.html

Attacks on Christians are surging in Kenya
http://www.wnd.com/2011/12/379357/

Boy, this post is a double-edged sword! Links that Christians are being persecuted/murdered/hacked up, and by (gasp) Muslims! I've earned myself a spot sitting beside Bill Maher on Politically Incorrect.

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Response to Zax2me (Reply #18)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 09:14 AM

22. WND isn't welcome here

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Response to Zax2me (Reply #18)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 10:17 AM

42. Ever heard of the LRA?

I suggest you do some research (and WND isn't the best place to start).

You might also want to look into Pat Robertson's support and financing of Charles Taylor's regime.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 09:09 AM

19. Persecution doesn't need to be consistent and sustained to be persecution.

 

If there were a number of scattered instances of people conducting violent attacks against Jews or Hispanics or homosexuals, wouldn't people here conclude that these people were being persecuted?

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 09:12 AM

20. Frankly, denial that atrocities were/are committed against Christians in the past and present

 

Is kind of like Holocaust denial.


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Response to OceanEcosystem (Reply #20)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 10:42 AM

53. The point is that the Romans did it to everybody, including themselves

Christians were by no means singled out for abuse by the Romans, they were equal opportunity abusers.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decimation_(Roman_army)

Decimation (Latin: decimatio; decem = "ten") was a form of military discipline used by officers in the Roman Army to punish mutinous or cowardly soldiers. The word decimation is derived from Latin meaning "removal of a tenth".

A unit selected for punishment by decimation was divided into groups of ten; each group drew lots (Sortition), and the soldier on whom the lot fell was executed by his nine comrades, often by stoning or clubbing. The remaining soldiers were given rations of barley instead of wheat and forced to sleep outside the Roman encampment.
Because the punishment fell by lot, all soldiers in the group were eligible for execution, regardless of the individual degree of fault, or rank and distinction. The leadership was usually executed independently of the one in ten deaths of the rank and file.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 09:32 AM

25. That sounds like an interesting and illuminating book

 

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 09:37 AM

27. Some American Christians believe they are somehow being persecuted in America

Bill O'Rielly rants about this at least once a week, and his large audience laps it up. The only really sustained persecution of American Christians came at the hands of white Christians persecuting black Christians. The burning and bombing of black Christian churches was common for about 50 years after the Civil War. Well, gee, the good white southern Christians had to take their defeat out on someone.
It's something we should remember when we read about attacks on Christians by Muslims. Maybe they are reading American history on how to treat minorities.
Nothing justifies the persecution or annihilation of peoples of different faiths, and as humans evolve we can only hope to someday reach the goal of global tolerance. After all, isn't that what religion is supposed to be teaching us?

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Response to mountain grammy (Reply #27)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 09:44 AM

29. "Persecution" doesn't necessarily mean in the form of violence.

 

Ridicule, etc. can also be a form of persecution. And Christians are often ridiculed in America.

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Response to OceanEcosystem (Reply #29)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 09:50 AM

30. Are you kidding me? What kind of ridicule? I can't see that as persecution.

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Response to mountain grammy (Reply #30)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 09:57 AM

33. If someone were teasing/ridiculing/taunting homosexuals, or atheists

 

for their beliefs, then what would you call that if not a form of 'persecution?'

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Response to OceanEcosystem (Reply #33)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 10:11 AM

39. I would say it was bullying, but the point is, I don't see that happening to Christians in America.

Just as the young Cassie Bernal wasn't murdered because she was a Christian, people in America aren't persecuted just for believing in Jesus. The ridicule is typically aimed at hypocrisy.

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Response to mountain grammy (Reply #39)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 10:21 AM

44. I would respectfully disagree.

 

I've known of plenty of instances - from personal experience and otherwise - where people in America were persecuted for no reason other than that they were Christians and believed in Jesus.

I won't cite the instances, so we may simply have to agree to disagree on the matter.

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Response to OceanEcosystem (Reply #44)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 02:14 PM

88. How would anyone know that someone is a Christian?



No one outside of family and a very few friends has any idea I'm an atheist, I was raised that ones religious views are private and not to be spoken of in polite company.






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Response to Fumesucker (Reply #88)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 02:16 PM

89. If that person states they are a Christian, or speaks Christian views. n/t.

 

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Response to OceanEcosystem (Reply #33)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 12:41 PM

72. They DON'T?

Have you ever been to a church service? I can't say I've been to many, but the few I was exposed to were full of very casual insults to gays, atheists, etc. I didn't consider myself "persecuted", just surrounded by bigots.

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Response to OceanEcosystem (Reply #29)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 10:16 AM

41. Poor Poor Christians - with their 80% supermajority and stranglehold on all levels of power

Must be awful to be so persecuted. Trade?

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Response to dmallind (Reply #41)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 10:23 AM

45. "80% supermajority?"

 

In where, government? Or the general US population? Or certain places?

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Response to OceanEcosystem (Reply #45)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 10:42 AM

52. 78.4% of Americans are Christian over 80% of Fed Government

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Response to FreeState (Reply #52)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 10:45 AM

54. Thanks for the info.

 

Personally, I doubt that many of the people who profess to be "Christians" are actually Christians, but that's another topic for another day.

Good info, thanks!

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Response to OceanEcosystem (Reply #45)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 10:54 AM

57. Population/electorate - government is far more than that as a result

There are 535 Congresspeople. 1 is a Muslim, 1 a Hindu and 1 a (coy) nonbeliever-ish. Thanks to intensely regionalized population concentrations and the self-serving agglomeration of "Judeo" into "Christian" as a cultural label, the Christian supermajority elected 32 Jewish members, the only other overrepresented religious group even though they number less than Muslims and 1/5 or so the amount of nonbelievers . The remaining 500 - well over 93%? Christians, natch. You don't remember the Bible-theme nomination debate, the "favorite philosopher", the invocations, benedictions, prayers, or the invariable "God (oh sure we all know they really could mean Quetzalcoatl, hmm-hmm) Bless America" signoffs at campaign speeches? This is news to you? So how is this 93.5% Christian and 99.5% Judeo-Christian legislative body persecuting Christians again? Is it the Christian President and VP? The 100% Christian Supreme Court maybe?

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Response to dmallind (Reply #41)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 12:37 PM

68. ...

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Response to OceanEcosystem (Reply #29)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 12:35 PM

67. Ha ha ha!

Oh, boo hoo! My heart is bleeding! Poor, poor Christians should be able to live in a protected bubble safe from *gasp* jokes while they can continue to tell everybody else what to do (like not get gay married!).

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 09:37 AM

28. Oh come on! Are your really gonna take the word of a mere eyewitness ?

Sorry, but that's only one so-called source... compared to literally thousands of earnest repetitions of the widely circulated urban myth that that girl reaffirmed her faith--an account that, need I remind you, just so happens to verify exactly how we expect a martyr to act. That seems to be a little too much of a coincidence to not be true. Or let's apply Occam's Razor: Which makes more sense, that just one guy got it right or that thousands of people are able to pass along the same story and for them all to get it exactly the same and to each of them at all one, just so happen to get it wrong?

In my next post, I will blow away the so-called old earth theory and its so-called facts by using literal scripture to prove that an untelligent designer created all of the earth and universe just 76 years ago.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 09:53 AM

31. Christians are ALWAYS re-making their own reality in their own image / fantasy

and rewriting history whenever they get a chance. I have not heard of similar denials of reality in other populations....either the other nations/religions are better at it, or the Christians make it a part of their everyday experience.

Perhaps that's why Americans cannot remember their history...they forget which version is canon....

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 09:54 AM

32. Not my specific expertise, but correctly understood this makes sense

Read what he says - that there were haphazard and intermittent persecutions. So you can't "debunk" this by citing some examples. But there was no major long-term official pogrom. IIRC one such actually was implemented under Diocletian around 300CE or so, but by that time the empire was becoming increasingly fractious and fragmented and it wasn't really put in action all that uniformly. One of his lietenants - Galerius or sometging like that - was indeed a dedicated anti-Christian though and went at it with gusto in areas under his control. By 312 it ended for obvious reasons.

Before that though other than Nero and Marcus Aurelius (strangely) Rome was pretty universally tolerant to religions qua religions, and only got stroppy when the religious minorities caused secular trouble. Nero used them as patsies to shift blame from himself, and the normally quite enlightened Marcus Aurelius just saw them as a threat.

Were Christians fed to lions? Sure - just like convicts, POWs, uppity slaves etc - and the Christians so killed were also those who again caused secular trouble for the most part. Death by wild animal was a popular public execution method. It was never specifically or mostly targeted at Christians. Numbers are hard to pin down, but it's almost certain that the Christian Constantine killed more Christians slapping down Donatist an Arianist heresies than the pagan Diocletian, Nero and Marcus Aurelius ever executed however.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 10:01 AM

35. Thought-provoking article.

Thanks for posting.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 10:08 AM

38. sounds like a facinating book.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 10:12 AM

40. Is it really any surprise to anyone that Christians invent mythologies of persecution?

They do so even today. It's probably a structural effect of the way the religion works psychologically (what Nietzsche once termed ressentiment). That the myths of persecution exist at the macro level (the whole of Christian history rests on one) and at the micro-level (any given Christian walks around with a latent or active persecution complex) is fairly obvious.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 10:39 AM

50. Fox's "War on Christians" plays well to the poor, persecuted white Christians

who aren't getting everything they want, which is for all of us to live under their rules. "Jesus plus nothing."

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Response to mountain grammy (Reply #50)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 10:52 AM

56. Plenty of Christians in America aren't white. n/t.

 

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Response to OceanEcosystem (Reply #56)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 12:27 PM

65. I know. I'm referring to who Fox news appeals to with their phony, made up war on Christians.

and that would be white Christians. That's who Fox wants to appeal to. It's as much about racism as it is about false reports of persecution, as in the "War on Christmas!" As in "how can we be persecutors when we ourselves are persecuted?"

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Response to mountain grammy (Reply #65)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 12:41 PM

71. I don't think so.

 

The concept of persecution against Christians in America means that it would be perceived as that by every Christian of every color.


If someone were to talk about "persecution against liberals," do you think that only African-American liberals would feel slighted, or, rather, liberals of all backgrounds - Hispanic, white, African-American, Arab, etc.?

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Response to OceanEcosystem (Reply #71)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 02:04 PM

85. The whole concept of persecution against Christians in America is made up! That's my point.

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Response to mountain grammy (Reply #85)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 02:06 PM

86. I disagree - from personal experience. N/t.

 

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Response to OceanEcosystem (Reply #86)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 02:21 PM

91. Sorry, not good enough.. this old grammy needs facts.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 10:45 AM

55. The way it was taught to me, it seems as if persecution is built into the very doctrine.

Wasn't the god of the church persecuted?

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 10:56 AM

58. They say The TRUTH shall set you free

 

reject the myth accept the truth.

Thanks for the link, buying the book today.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 11:22 AM

59. This is neither surprising nor new. This is what we have been taught.

Read the stories--they only mention a couple of emperors. Take out any hyperbole that was added over the centuries, and you have a few horrific examples to scare the populace into submission. That's not to say that people weren't scared or hiding, though--all it takes is seeing one of your number burned at the stake, and it makes you think twice about sticking your neck out.

No, the persecution wasn't constant. I grew up in an evangelical church, and I was never taught that it was constant, just that persecutions periodically happened so people kept their faith on the down-low, just in case. A few were martyred, some horrifically, and the rest were scared but faithful.

Those with a persecution complex today have to make it up and ignore the data. They do it deliberately because, if they don't, then they'd have to admit that they've become the Pharisees.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 12:23 PM

64. Thousands of historians writing over the last 2000 years +/- say otherwise.

But haters of the religious will eat this up.

Sounds like the kind of book that Newsmax would sell to 'disprove' Liberalism.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 12:31 PM

66. When some Christians attempt to preach to me the 'good word'

and I let them know I nether believe it or am interested in being preached at, or when I object to laws or rules that force me to live by their fairy tale edicts, I occasionally get accused of 'persecuting' them.


Their threshold of what is 'persecution' is ridiculously low and is not really to be taken seriously.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 12:40 PM

70. I can easily believe that such persecution myths are a quirk of Christianity.

After all, the whole theology is built around Jesus' heroic persecution and martyrdom. It's not shocking to think his devotees might hope to emulate that.

I mean, you should hear my relatives from the South talk. These are white Christian protestants living in the South, and they think the world is persecuting them because of their religion. Bring up atheism though, and they're all on board with mistreating them in all sorts of ways because hey, "this is a Christian nation".

...

They don't make a lot of sense.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 12:46 PM

73. An interview with the author

 

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 12:51 PM

74. The Jews were never slaves, the Christians were never persecuted....

 

There was no real city called Nazareth, there were three Jesus' (would that make them Jesi?) Moses never existed, the flood was a local one in the cradle of civilization, "Satan" was just the demonization of prior gods (note how the name changes to 'Lucifer,' a Roman name when Judea is occupied by the Romans,) Matthew, Mark, Luke and John did not write the Gospels, (one) Jesus never was crucified, but instead wed Mary Magdelene who was the Mother of the Early Church, etc etc etc....

It's time to realize all of what we know about Christianity is wrong, and it is no different than any other religion.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 12:52 PM

75. In other words, if it wasn't ordered by HQ, it couldn't happen and therefore didn't happen.

Why do I not find that assumption self-evident?

The claim--fairly accurate--that this was a minor sect in the eastern part of the Empire, and therefore not worthy of (Rome's) attention is true.

It doesn't follow that it wasn't worth the attention of those Rome placed in positions of authority over the locals.

A lot of the argumentation over this boils down to, "What sources are we to take as authoritative?" If a heresy or policy is mentioned in disfavored, to-be-debunked sources, then it has no support unless it's also mentioned in favored sources, preferably later sources. A lot of sources, however, we know to be lost.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 01:08 PM

82. The Gross Stupidity Of Suggesting That Christians Were Not Persecuted Displays Such Ignorance

I fail to believe Moss is an actual professor with tenure or any academic standing of note.

Going back to the time referenced as "Jesus ben Joseph's" lifetime:

There were three sects to the Jewish religion:

Pharisees
Sadducees
Essenes

For CENTURIES the only sects acknowledged by the Church and history were the Pharisees and Sadducees. The Essenes were not mentioned or known about BECAUSE THEY HAD BEEN ERADICATED ALONG WITH THEIR WRITINGS!

To suggest that the Essenes, who trained Jesus ben Joseph (or would have for those who dispute his existence) and were the basis for the mystical sect Jesus spoke to and embodied, were not persecuted is basically stupid. It's unwittingly carrying water for the Roman Catholic Church.

The mystical Christians who followed in Jesus ben Joseph's footsteps were wiped from the face of the earth as an organized group and their legacy lived on only in images and symbolism for those in the following centuries to find and explore in secret. The esoteric Christian Order that has existed since the beginning of this persecution was invisible and accessed by those who could look at signs and symbols and read between the lines to contact the Inner School. The esoteric brand of the Christian tradition began resurfacing as organized groups in the Victorian era. It wasn't until the 20 century that some fragments of the earliest mystical Christians managed to reappear from the caves where they were hidden from mass destruction.

In short, the early Christians who followed Jesus ben Joseph practiced a mystical brand of spirituality which was anathema to both the traditional exoteric Jewish sects AND the emerging "Pauline Church" which went out of its way to both make itself ingratiated to the Romans and simultaneously stamp out any and all traces of mysticism for the next 1500-1800 years.

Anyone who dared practice esoteric Christianity as espoused by the Christ, Jesus ben Joseph, was labeled a heretic for centuries. Even today, we are maligned by the rightwing fundies AND leftwing athiests.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 02:26 PM

92. Locking: This is a thread about Religion and History.

GD has an SOP that reads:

Discuss politics, issues, and current events. No posts about Israel/Palestine, religion, guns, showbiz, or sports unless there is really big news. No conspiracy theories. No whining about DU.


This would be ideal for the Religion Group, an active discussion group on DU.

http://www.democraticunderground.com/?com=forum&id=1218

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