Religious persecution is nothing new. As far back as we know, people have violently denigrated each others beliefs. In our arrogance, we can insist that the mere fact another disagrees with us offend us. Then we can “rightfully” destroy the offender.
What is especially offensive about Christianity? Christians call all men sinners, too weak, too pitifully lost to our sins to save ourselves. The prideful man hates such an accusation, but the Christian says we have hope. Jesus died on a cross for our sake, and He is risen! Still, the prideful man rejects the need for salvation. Even God has no right to call him a sinner, and even if he did sin, AND HE DOES NOT, with his works, he can save himself.
Because men say they do not sin — because men say they can save themselves (or because they deny there is any salvation) — members of the early Christian church experienced hideous persecution. We attribute the worst of these persecutions to the Emperor Diocletian.
In one respect, Diocletian did not sin. He was faithful to the traditional Roman cult. He did not demand that people worship him. He merely insisted upon the worship of the Roman gods, and Christians refused his command.
Here is the substance of the last of Diocletian‘s four edits.
In 304, the fourth edict ordered all persons, men, women, and children, to gather in a public space and offer a collective sacrifice. If they refused, they were to be executed. The precise date of the edict is unknown, but it was probably issued in either January or February 304, and was being applied in the Balkans in March. The edict was in use in Thessalonica (Thessaloniki, Greece) in April 304, and in Palestine soon after. This last edict was not enforced at all in the domains of Maximian and Constantius. In the East, it remained applicable until the issue of the Edict of Milan by Constantine and Licinius in 313. (from here)
Perhaps it was because of that lack of enforcement Christianity survived.
Even today, when people are suppose to be far more sophisticated, mankind persecutes those they find especially disagreeable.
- Instead of pagans, these days Muslims seem to be the worst offenders. 9 of 10 Worst Countries for Persecution of Christians Have 50% or Greater Muslim Populations (cnsnews.com)
- As this editorial suggests, Persecution of Christians a significant indicator of future world chaos, some Christians would find the regime of a homicidal maniac like Saddam Hussein preferable to an Islamic state.
Here is a link to the OpenDoors Watch List. Most of the nations on their list are either backwards or poor. The persecution they speak of is physical punishment.
Here in good ole USA, our government is more considerate of the ignorant, unwashed, Christian masses. When a Christian calls someone a sinner, the reply is “discrimination,” and the judges in news media, proudly proclaiming their tolerance, promptly charge the discriminators with bigotry. Hence, without ever intending any such thing, a small town, family-owned pizzeria found its way into the national news.
- Christian pizzeria slammed by ‘modern-day fascists‘ (www.foxnews.com)
- Anti-Gay Indiana Pizzeria Closes Because of Threats, Excessive Trolling (nymag.com)
- Hot new liberal theory: Memories Pizza orchestrated this fiasco because they wanted the online donations (hotair.com)
What does religious freedom involve? These days the corporate news media and homosexual rights advocates act like it is all about homosexual “rights.” No. It is not. That is only a small portion of the issue. We have other concerns such as:
- Abortion rights.
- Where we can build churches.
- School prayer and religious education.
- What we can wear in the name of religion.
- What constitutes inappropriate proselytizing in the work place.
- And so forth
What does religious freedom involve? We each get to choose our words and the course of our conduct, not just the manner of our prayers and worship. When we make excuses and use the power of government to force others to practice our beliefs, we deny them religious freedom. Just because we don’t like being called a sinner does not give any of us the right to persecute anyone else.
1 John 1:5-10 New King James Version (NKJV)
5 This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.
We are all sinners, and there are more ways to sin than what we might do in a bed. And none of us like being reminded of that, but today is the today we gratefully remember that God took notice of our sins and found a way to forgive us. Today is the day we remember to thank Him.