Christian Persecution of Peoples


House Member
Dec 1, 2005
Independent Palestine
Conflicts between Christians and non-Christians have resulted in the persecution of non-Christians by Christians. Christians have also persecuted each other when conflicts arose between different Christian denominations. Such persecutions have extended to a wide variety of religious and social minorities within predominantly "Christian lands". This persecution has included unwarranted arrest, war, inquisition, imprisonment, beating, rape, torture, execution or ethnic cleansing. It also may refer to the confiscation or destruction of property, or incitement to hate non-Christians. In some cases such persecution has been visited upon those who consider themselves Christian, but are regarded as non-Christians by members of the dominant Christian denomination, such as Catholic Christians in majority Protestant areas, Protestants in Catholic areas, and so forth.

Theological debate of persecution
Christian theology derives its sources from the teachings and actions of Jesus as codified in the New Testament, as well as the Old Testament and several other sources depending of the Christian denomination. This makes the Bible, especially the canonical Gospels, the primary source in order to classify persecution by Christians as either religiously motivated persecution or ethnic persecution.

Some churches, such as the Roman Catholic Church, give weight to oral tradition.

Cited by persecutors
Christian anti-Semites blame Jews in general for the death of Jesus (whom Christians believe to be God made man). This belief has been cited by many Anti-semites as justification for their animosity towards the Jews. St Matthew's Gospel (Mt 27:25) quotes a Jewish mob crying, shortly before the Crucifixion, "His blood be on us and on our children"; this quotation is taken by some to refer to all Jews. This view held sway in many parts of Christian Europe throughout the Middle Ages, including by Heinrich Kramer and James Sprenger (aka Jacob Sprenger) in the Malleus Maleficarum (1486):
And again, the Jews sin more greatly than the Pagans; for they received the prophecy of the Christian Faith in the Old Law, which they corrupt through badly interpreting it, which is not the case with the Pagans. Therefore their infidelity is a greater sin than that of the Gentiles, who never received the Faith of the Gospel.

The same biblical quote fom the Gospel of Matthew was used by Adolf Hitler, but in modern times it is held by only a scarce minority of Christians.[citation needed](citation added, Kramer and Sprenger refrerence; for Hitler citation I offer tentatively: The Holocaust.)

Christian persecutors considered the persecution of others as "necessary" in order to "protect the souls" of Christians against damnation by heretic teachings. See also: Inquisition. The Peace churches believe that Jesus rejected violence. For instance Paul of Tarsus ordered heretics to be admonished in the church or to be expelled from the church, not to be persecuted.[citation needed] However, he himself was a persecutor of the Jewish Christian Nazarene sect before his Road to Damascus conversion experience.
In the Old Testament, which Christians consider inspired Scripture, Yahweh commands that the temples, idols, and sacred groves the all the goyim (pagan non-believers) be destroyed, and that those that follow other gods in the territory of Yahweh people should be killed. According to mainstream Christianity, this, however, contrasts with the teaching of Jesus which regards love towards God and other people as the supreme law.

Leviticus 20:27 ("A man or a woman who is a medium or a wizard shall be put to death; they shall be stoned with stones, their blood shall be upon them.") and Exodus 22:18 ("You shall not permit a sorceress to live.") have been interpreted as Christians should kill people who supposedly use magic. However the translation is debated and one interpretation is that it doesn't refer to the practices used by various occult groups modernly thought of as "Witchcraft", such as found in the Wiccan Faith, but rather curses intended to harm. It is worthy of note that the Hebrew people coexisted with Pagans who not only believed in many gods, but often practiced "sorcery." Also see Christian views on witchcraft.
Leviticus 20:13 ("If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them.") have been used as an excuse for persecution of homosexuals. Also, those laws are by many Christians considered to contradict essential teachings of Jesus, such as the teaching not to judge others. Many have argued that this quote is taken out of context by Christians to justify pre-existing bias.
Cited against persecutors
According to the canonical Gospel of Matthew (Matthew 5:44), Gospel of Luke (Luke 10:27) and the Gospel of Mark (Mark 12:31), Jesus commanded to love ones neighbour as onesself and love God more than anyone, and called this the summary of the Mosaic Law. He further taught his followers to love their enemies. Representing persecution as an act of love is considered irreconcilable to these teachigns by many. However, some have interpreted "neighbour" to only include Christians. Others believe that anyone who doesn't believe in Jesus is doomed to spend eternity in Hell; therefore, doing anything possible to save them from that fate (by forcing them to convert to Christianity by any means necessary) is an act of love.
According to the Christian Gospels, Jesus commanded people to withstand evil with good. Most people consider persecution to be immoral.
According to the Christian Gospels, Jesus forbade to hate (cf. Luke 14:26, Revelation 2:6). Persecution implies hate. Paul of Tarsus, as well as Jesus himself, allegedly considered the commandment to love the supreme law.
According to the the Christian Gospels, Jesus said not to judge other people. Persecution can be considered as a crude way of judging others, and so equel measures can be vlaidly taken agaisn those Christians whom persecute others.
Jesus supposedly did not fight back when he was harassed, arrested, and crucified, nor did his disciples, except Saint Peter, who was rebuked by Jesus.
A claim is that in the canonical Gospels, the Acts and the Letters, there is no description of any case of persecution by Christians which could be used as a precedent for Christian persecution of other gorups. However, Jesus did overturn the tables at Herod's Temple, (John 2:13-17, Matthew 25:31-46). Peter admonished Ananias and Sapphire in Acts 5 for lying about donating everything to the Church, when they did not, to the point that they dropped dead, and condemned Simon Magus in 8:20-24.
Roman Empire
Main article: Persecution of Roman religion
When Constantine became the sole Roman Emperor in 323, Christianity became legal by the Edict of Milan. After the death of Constantine in 337, two of his sons, Constantius and Constans took over the leadership of the empire. Constans, ruler of the western provinces, was, like his father, a Christian.

Constans was killed in 350, and soon after his brother became the sole emperor of the entire empire three years later. Constantius, also a Christian, decreed that all pagan temples in the empire be immediately closed. He warned that anyone who dared still offer sacrifices of worship to the once-revered gods and goddesses in these temples were to be put to death. Similarly, any governor to refused to enforce this decree was also to be punished.

But it wasn't just the emperors who persecuted the pagans. Lay Christians took advantage of these new anti-pagan laws by destroying and plundering the temples. Theologians and prominent ecclesiastics soon followed. One such example is St. Ambrose, Bishop of Milan. When Gratian became Roman emperor in 375, Ambrose, who was one of his closest educators, persuaded him to further suppress paganism. The emperor, at Ambrose's advice, confiscated the properties of the pagan temples; seized the properties of the vestal virgins and pagan priests, and removed the statue of the Goddess of Victory from the Roman Senate.

When Gratian delegated the government of the eastern half of the Roman Empire to Theodosius the Great in 379, the situation became worse for the pagans. Theodosius prohibited all forms of pagan worship and allowed the temples to be robbed, plundered, and ruthlessly destroyed by monks and other enterprising Christians.

A prominent example of this persecution is the case of the philosopher Hypathia of Alexandria. Hypathia was the daughter of the mathematician Theon. She was one of the most learned individuals of her time. She taught and elucidated Greek mathematics and philosophy. She lectured widely in Athens and Alexandria. But her widespread popularity and intelligence, coupled with her complete lack of interest in Christianity, so irritated the Patriarch of Alexandria, Cyril, that his attacks on her inflamed a group of monks to murder her in the year 415. The cruelty of the method of her murder can be seen by the description of it by the historian Edward Gibbon:

"On a fatal day, in the holy season of Lent, Hypathia was torn from her chariot, stripped naked, dragged to the church, and inhumanly butchered by the hands of Peter the Reader and a troop of savage and merciless fanatics; her flesh was scrapped from her bones with sharp oyster shells, and her quivering limbs were delivered to the flames. The just progress of inquiry and punishment was stopped by seasonable gifts; but the murder of Hypathia has imprinted an indelible strain on the character and religion of Cyril of Alexandria."
It should be mentioned that, because of his relentless defense of orthodoxy and, as an obvious corollary, his zealous destruction of heretics and infidels (such as Hypathia), Cyril is considered a saint by the early Christian church.

Under Theodosius the Nicene or "Orthodox" version of Christianity became the official religion, engendering conditions for conflict with the mostly Germanic tribes who had converted to the "heretical" Arian form of Christianity. In the year 416, under Theodosius II, a law was passed to bar pagans from public employment. All this was done to coerce pagans to convert to Christianity. Theodosius also persecuted Judaism, destroying a number of synagogues.

Northern Europe
Main article: Persecution of Heathens
In Northern Europe, Norse pagans were the subject of much religious intolerance from Christians. The priests were killed, temples torn down and the followers persecuted and killed.

In 1087 king Inge I of Sweden, who earlier had been forced away, traveled with his housecarls through Smalandia and Ostrogothia, riding both day and night, until he arrived in Sweden. Having arrived at Old Uppsala, he surrounded the hall of Blot-Sweyn, and set the hall on fire. When the king ran out, he was immediately slain. This is probably the date of the destruction of the Temple at Uppsala.

The tradition seem to have remained even after the christianization and in early Swedish law books there is listed a fine for the crime of blóting.

Main article: persecution of Ancient Greek religion
During the christianization of Greece, there was much persecution of Ancient Greek religion. Followers were the subject of a great deal of religious intolerance from Christians. The priests were killed, the followers persecuted and killed, and the temples torn down to be made into limestone quarries, Christian Churches, or civic buildings. Many followers of the Hellenistic gods were punished and slain by Christians, and those caught worshipping or making sacrifices to their gods were often imprisoned, tortured, and killed. Many myths and accusations were issued against the Pagans of Greece. Christians used false accusations that the Greeks killed Christians at their temples during ritualistic sacrifices to justify much religious persecution and blood shed. Many of these accusations were in part caused by a mistaken association with Greek pagans and the pagans of Rome and Thrace, who unlike the Greeks did commit human blood sacrifices.

Other Examples of Persecution
The conflict between the Orthodox and Arian versions of Christianity was one of the causes of conflict between Christian peoples, in particular Vatican supported assaults on the kingdoms of the Arian Vandals and Goths.

Muscovy and Imperial Russia government forcibly baptized as Muslim Volga Tatars as pagan Chuvash, Mordva and Mari after the conquest of Kazan Khanate and Astrakhan Khanate in 1550s. Mosques and mahallas were prohibited. Persecution ended only during the reign of Catherine II of Russia.

Medieval Christendom
In fully Christian Europe there were a number of persecutions directed against Jews and Christian heretics. The Crusades, launched against the Muslim middle-east to "liberate" Jerusalem, have also been interpreted by some as an example of religious persecution. Certainly there were massacres of Muslims and Jews when Jerusalem was taken by Crusaders in 1099. Raymond d'Aguiliers, chaplain to Raymond de Saint-Gilles, Count of Toulouse, wrote:

Piles of heads, hands, and feet were to be seen in the streets of the city. It was necessary to pick one's way over the bodies of men and horses. But these were small matters compared to what happened at the Temple of Solomon, a place where religious ceremonies were ordinarily chanted. What happened there? If I tell the truth, it will exceed your powers of belief. So let it suffice to say this much, at least, that in the Temple and porch of Solomon, men rode in blood up to their knees and bridle-reins. Indeed, it was a just and splendid judgment of God that this place should be filled with the blood of unbelievers, since it had suffered so long from their blasphemies. The city was filled with corpses and blood. (Edward Peters, The First Crusade: The chronicle of Fulcher of Chartres and other source materials, p. 214)
Jews were also persecuted in Visigothic Spain and later elsewhere in Europe, especially after the emergence of the blood libel. Jews were persecuted, killed and eventually expelled from England by King Edward I. In Spain after the Reconquista, Jews and Muslims were forced to either convert or be exiled. Many were killed.

Some neo-Pagans believe that persecutions of witches were attacks on surviving Pagans, but this view is not widely accepted (see Burning times).

The attempts to suppress the neo-Gnostic Cathar faith took the form of the Albigensian Crusade (1209-1229) – a brutal 20-year military campaign initiated by the Roman Catholic Church to eliminate the puritanical religion practiced by the Cathars of Languedoc, which the Roman Catholic hierarchy considered heretical. It is historically significant for a number of reasons: the violence inflicted was extreme even by medieval standards; the church offered legally sanctioned dominion over conquered lands to northern French nobles and the King of France, acting as essentially Catholic mercenaries, who then nearly doubled the size of France, acquiring regions which at the time had closer cultural and language ties to Catalonia. This led to the creation of the Medieval Inquisition which was charged to suppress heresies. Individuals whose views were considered deviant could be convicted and executed, as happened with Joan of Arc and Jan Huss.

Reformation, Counter-Reformation and Colonialism
Conflict between Christian factions reached its height following the Reformation, as Protestants and Catholics struggled for control of territories in Western Europe. Catholic authorities persecuted Protestants in a number of jurisdictions, the most notorious being the 1572 St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre, when the French king ordered the murder of all Protestants in France. Outbreaks against Catholics also occurred in Protestant countries, leading to endemic conflicts in some areas, such as Ireland, where the British government imported Protestants and expelled Catholic landowers following a long period of conflict over control of the island.

European colonization and imperialism was also fueled by Christian evangelism and sometimes by persecution of "pagan" communities. Spanish conquests in central and South America were accompanied by attempts to suppress native religions. Portuguese expansion in India was accompanied by persecutions of Hindus and Buddhists. By the 18th century, persecutions of unsanctioned beliefs had been reduced in most Europeans countries to legal restrictions on those who did not accept the official faith. This often included being barred from higher education, or from participation in the national legislature. In colonized nations attempts to convert native peoples to Christianity increasingly took the form of "carrots" rather than "sticks". In British India during the Victorian era, Christian converts were given preferential treatment for governmental appointments.

Under pressure from the Roman Catholic church, the government of Quebec withheld the vote from women until the mid 1940s. During 1995-1998 Newfoundland had only Christian schools (four of them, Pentecostal, Roman Catholic, Seventh Day Adventist, and inter-denominational (Anglican, Salvation Army and United Church)). The right to organize publicly supported religious schools was only given to certain Christian denominations, thus tax money used to support a selected group of Christian denominations. The denominational schools could also refuse admission of a student or the hiering of a qualified teacher on purely religious grounds. Quebec has used two school systems, one Protestant and the other Roman Catholic, but it seems this system will be replaced with two secular school systems: one French and the other English.[1]

In Greece the Greek Orthodox church is given privileged status and only the Greek Orthodox church, Roman Catholic, some Protestant churches, Judaism and Islam are recognized religions. The Muslim minority alleges that Greece persistently and systematically discriminates against Muslims. [2] [3]

According to a Human Rights Practices report by the U.S. State Department note that "some local officials infringe on religious freedom, especially in the south". There is conflict between Catholic/Mayan syncretists and Protestant evangelicals in the Chiapas region. [4] [5] [6]

United States
In some U.S. jurisdictions legal restrictions exist which require a religious test as a qualification for holding public office, for instance in Texas an official may be "excluded from holding office" if she/he does not "acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being." (i.e. God) [7] thus atheists, agnostics, Buddhists, some Unitarian Universalists and New Age followers, who do not believe in a supreme being would be excluded from public office if the test were enforced.

The Bill of Rights of the Texas Constitution (Article I, Section 4) last amended on September 13, 2003 states that an official may be "excluded from holding office" if she/he does not "acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being." [8]
North Carolina's Constitution, Article 6 Sec. 8 states "Disqualifications of office. The following persons shall be disqualified for office: First, any person who shall deny the being of Almighty God...." [9]
South Carolina's Constitution, Article 4 Section 2: "Person denying existence of Supreme Being not to hold office. No person who denies the existence of the Supreme Being shall hold any office under this Constitution." [10]
Tennessee's Bill of Rights: Article 9, Section 2: "No person who denies the being of God, or a future state of rewards and punishments, shall hold any office in the civil department of this state." [11]
Similarly, some state laws are framed with the intention of toleration of religious difference, but are criticized for coming short of withdrawing all mention of belief in God, or of Christianity.

Massachusetts' Declaration of Rights: Article III (approved and ratified November 6, 1990): "make suitable provision, at their own expense, for the institution of the public worship of God, and for the support and maintenance of public Protestant teachers of piety, religion and morality, in all cases where such provision shall not be made voluntarily."", "...every denomination of Christians, demeaning themselves peaceably, and as good subjects of the commonwealth, shall be equally under the protection of the law." [12]
During the Cold War, the United States often characterized its opponents as "Godless Communists" as opposed to Christian Americans, which tended to reinforce the view that atheists were unreliable and unpatriotic (an example of the fallacy known as ad hominem). In the 1988 U.S. presidential campaign, Republican presidential candidate George H. W. Bush said, "I don't know that atheists should be regarded as citizens, nor should they be regarded as patriotic. This is one nation under God." [13]

The conservative Christian James Clement Taylor has commented on the subject of persecution of Wiccans that "these people of Wicca have been terribly slandered by us. They have lost jobs, and homes, and places of business because we have assured others that they worship Satan, which they do not. We have persecuted them..." [14]

In 1999 a group of conservative Christian groups was formed on the initiative of Bob Barr. The group asked US citizens not to enlist or re-enlist in the U.S. Army until the Army terminates the on-base freedoms of religion, speech and assembly for all Wiccan soldiers. The boycott has since become inactive. George W. Bush stated "I don't think witchcraft is a religion. I would hope the military officials would take a second look at the decision they made.". [15][16][17][18][19][20][21][22][23][24][25][26]

In September 1985 some conservative Christian legislators introduced three pieces of legislation designed to take away the rights of Wiccans. The first one was House Resolution (H.R.) 3389 introduced September 19 by congressman Robert S. Walker (D-Penn.)[27]. Senator Jesse Helms (R, NC) made an amendment, Amendment 705, in the House Resolution 3036, The Treasury, Postal, and General Government Appropriations Bill for 1986.[28] After being ignored for a while it got attached to HR 3036 by an unanimous voice vote of the senators. Congressman Richard T. Schulze (R-Penn) introduced substantially the same amendment into the Tax Reform Bill of 1985. When the conference committee met for on October 30, the Helms Amendment was thrown out since thay considered it not to be a budget issue. Following this Schulze withdrew his ammendment from the Tax Reform Bill. Leaving only HR 3389, the Walker Bill. It managed to attract Joe Barton (D-Tex) who became a co-sponsor November 14. The Ways and Means Committee set aside the bill and quietly ignored it and it died with the close of the 99th session of Congress in December 1986.[29][30]


Executive Branch Member
Jan 7, 2005
If we did things to you guys you probably derserved it for some reason. :p