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Christ was persecuted, but what about Christians?
Roman persecution of Christians was depicted in paintings such as "The Christian Martyrs' Last Prayer" by Jean-Leon Gerome.
March 30th, 2013
10:00 PM ET

Christ was persecuted, but what about Christians?

CNN examines the tumultuous early years of Christianity in a special narrated by Liam Neeson. Watch “After Jesus: The First Christians,” Sunday at 8 p.m. ET.

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) She walked into the Roman arena where the wild beasts awaited her. She trembled not from fear but from joy.

Her name was Vibia Perpetua. She was just 22, a young mother singing hymns as the crowd jeered and a lion, leopard and wild cow encircled her.

One of the beasts attacked, hurling her to the ground. She covered an exposed thigh with her bloody robe to preserve her modesty and groped in the dust for her hair pin so she could fix her disheveled hair.

And when a Roman executioner approached Perpetua with a sword, her last words before collapsing were aimed at her Christian companions: “Stand fast in the faith, and love you all one another and do not let our sufferings be a stumbling block to you.”

Millions of Christians worldwide will celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus on this Easter Sunday. But the story of how the church rose to prominence after Jesus’ death is being turned upside down.

According to a belief passed down through the centuries, the church grew because of Roman persecution. The blood of Christian martyrs such as Perpetua became “the seed of the church,” said third-century church leader Tertullian. It’s the Hollywood version of Christianity reflected in epic biblical films such as “Ben-Hur” and “The Robe.” Vicious Romans relentlessly targeted early Christians, so the story goes, but the faith of people like Perpetua proved so inspiring that Christianity became the official religion of Rome, and eventually the largest religion in the world.

But that script is getting a rewrite. The first Christians were never systematically persecuted by the Romans, and most martyrdom stories with the exception of a handful such as Perpetua's were exaggerated and invented, several scholars and historians say. It wasn’t just how the early Christians died that inspired so many people in the ancient world; it was how they lived.

“You had much better odds of winning the lottery than you would have becoming a martyr,” says Joyce E. Salisbury, author of “The Blood of Martyrs: Unintended Consequences of Ancient Violence.”

“The odds were pretty slim. More people read about martyrs than ever saw one.”

Do Christians have a martyr complex today?

The debate over exactly how many Christians were persecuted and martyred may seem irrelevant centuries later. A scholarly consensus has indeed emerged that Roman persecution of Christians was sporadic, and that at least some Christian martyrdom stories are theological tall tales.

But a new book by Candida Moss, a New Testament professor at the University of Notre Dame, is bringing that message to the masses.

Moss says ancient stories of church persecution have created a contemporary cult of bogus Christian martyrs. She says too many American Christians are acting like they’re members of a persecuted minority, being thrown to the lions by people who simply disagree with them.

Professor Candida Moss, author of "The Myth of Persecution," says most stories of Christian martyrs were fabricated.

She cited former Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum. Romney claimed last year that President Barack Obama was waging a “war against religion,” and Santorum said the gay community “had gone out on a jihad” against him. Other Christians invoke images of persecution when someone disagrees with them on controversial issues such as abortion or birth control, says Moss, whose "The Myth of Persecution" was recently released.

The problem with invoking persecution is it implies your opponents are evil and no common ground can be found with evil,  Moss says.

“When someone is persecuting you" she says, "there is no room for dialogue."

Others say Moss’ claim is dangerous.

People such as Perpetua did die because of their beliefs. The first Christians were tortured, reviled and held in contempt by Romans and their example helped the church grow, they say.

The Rev. Robert Morgan, author of  "On This Day in Christian History: 365 Amazing and Inspiring Stories about Saints, Martyrs and Heroes, " says it’s true that some of the accounts of martyrdom were “undoubtedly embellished” and that many of the persecution stories were “handed down in an atmosphere of confusion and pressure.”

Still, being a Christian in the first century was a risky move persecution was significant. Jesus and most of his apostles were executed, he says.

“To deny the history of the movement is a way of attacking the movement,” Morgan says.

Some opposition to contemporary Christians is indeed evil, Morgan says. Christians are being killed today in places such as Nigeria and North Africa.

“Christians do not have a victim’s mentality,” Morgan says. “They take their stands, they know what they believe and they do good in this world. They are the ones who have established orphanages, hospitals and charitable institutions. For some reason, there’s this animosity against them.”

Hatred of Christians is woven into much of the New Testament. Jesus constantly warned his followers to expect persecution. The Apostle Paul wrote many of his epistles from jail. And the death of the first Christian martyr, Stephen, is dramatically recorded in the New Testament book the Acts of  the Apostles.

The Easter message itself is a story of martyrdom Jesus, unjustly executed by the Romans. The idea that Christians are at war with demonic forces in the world is reflected throughout the New Testament, says Bryan Litfin, a theology professor at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago.

“If Jesus was just a soft moral teacher who taught us to love one another and petted little babies, the Romans wouldn’t have crucified him,”  Litfin says. “Jesus is a polarizing figure, then and today. The early Christians weren’t foisting a narrative out of the blue about being martyrs. ”

'Like the action heroes of the ancient world'

If the first Christians pictured themselves as waging war against the world, the martyrs were their version of the Navy SEALs. They were the elite Christians who inspired and united others of their faith.

There was a purpose behind spreading stories of persecution: Nothing brings a new group closer together than a common enemy, Moss says.

“The idea that you are persecuted forges a concrete identity,” Moss says. “It really solidifies your sense of group identity.”

The stories of Christian persecution were so popular that they spawned a market during the first centuries after the crucifixion. The places where martyrs were born and died became early tourist stops. Towns competed with one another to draw rich pilgrims seeking martyr memorabilia, Moss says.

“People would go and buy the equivalent of a T-shirt,” Moss says. “You’d have all these little combs with saints on them that people would buy, and lamps with saints on them. People would also buy fruit from trees that grew in the vicinity of martyrs’ graves. Of course, the prices were completely jacked up.”

Church leaders began to embellish and invent stories of martyrdom to inspire the faithful but also to settle theological feuds, Moss says. If, say, a bishop wanted to denounce a rivals’ theology, he spun a story in which a martyr denounced the same doctrine with his last breath, Moss says.

“Martyrs were like the action heroes of the ancient world,” Moss says. “It was like getting your favorite athlete endorsing your favorite brand of soda.”

But how often did Romans force Christians to endure torture or die for their faith? Christianity took roughly 300 years to conquer Rome. The emperor Constantine converted to Christianity in 312 and gave Christians religious freedom.  Christianity became the official religion of Rome by the end of the fourth century,  scholars say.

For the first 300 years of the church, Christians were often ridiculed and viewed with contempt. But Roman leaders spent about "less than 10 years" out of the first 300 actually persecuting Christians, Moss says. There are only six reliable cases of Christian martyrdom before A.D. 250 out of “hundreds of stories,” including Perpetua’s, she says.

Many scholars have greeted Moss’ contention that Roman persecution of Christians was exaggerated with a shrug. They say it was common knowledge in the academic world.

“There weren’t that many Christians who were persecuted,” says Gail O’Day, dean of the Wake Forest University School of Divinity in North Carolina. “When you actually read the Roman historical records, the Christians just weren’t that important to them. Most Christians just got along with empire.”

When Roman persecution did occur, though, it was vicious. The Emperor Nero covered fully conscious Christians with wax and used them as human torches. Other Christians were skinned alive and covered with salt, while others were slowly roasted above a pit until they died.

Perpetua’s passion

One of the most famous martyrs was Perpetua.

She lived in Carthage in North Africa (modern-day Tunisia) and was arrested in March 203 with four others as they prepared for baptism. The Roman Emperor Septimius Severus had decreed that any new conversion to Christianity would result in death.

History remembers Perpetua because she kept a diary during her imprisonment. It’s called "The Passion of Perpetua and Felicity" (Felicity was a slave girl arrested with Perpetua). It’s the oldest-surviving document from a Christian woman. The emotion in the diary is almost unbearable. Perpetua describes the pain of leaving her infant son, who she was still nursing. She describes a prison visit from her weeping father, who kissed her hands while trying to get her to renounce her faith.

Perpetua's father visited her in prison, begging her to think of him and renounce her faith.

A narrator picks up the story in the diary after Perpetua was sent to her death. He says in the diary that Perpetua’s faith was so inspiring it caused the prison’s warden, a man called Pudens, to convert. The narrator also describes Perpetua's death.

While she was imprisoned, Perpetua says God gave her visions to reassure her. After one, she wrote:

“I understood that I should fight, not with beasts but against the devil. But I knew that mine was the victory.”

You can’t discount the power of such stories, even if persecution “wasn’t extremely common,” says Litfin, the Moody Bible Institute professor.

Persecution was central to the rise of the early church, he says.

“How many people in your church would have to be pulled out and executed and tormented for it not to have a tremendous effect for many years on your memory and self-perception,” Litfin says. “The early Christians are not foisting a narrative out of the blue about being matyrs.”

The early Christians' secret weapon

Other scholars say it wasn't simply persecution that helped the church grow. Instead, they say, Christians had a secret weapon.

The martyrs may have gotten all the press, but it was ordinary Christians who got it done by the way they treated friends and strangers.

Life in ancient Rome was brutal and nasty, says Rodney Stark, author of "The Triumph of Christianity." Stark’s well-regarded book gives one of the most detailed descriptions of the early church and ancient Rome.

Forget those antiseptic portraits of Roman cities you see in biblical moves such as “The Robe.” Roman cities were overcrowded, raw sewage ran in the streets, people locked their doors at night for fear of being robbed and plagues were rampant. Soap had not yet been invented, Stark says.

“The stink of the cities in the summertime must have been astounding,” Stark says. “You would have smelled a city miles before you got to it.”

Christians stood out because they created a “miniature welfare state" to help the less fortunate, Stark says. They took in infant girls routinely left for dead by their parents. They risked their lives to tend the sick when plagues hit and others fled in terror. They gave positions of leadership to women when many women had no rights, and girls as young as 12 were often married off to middle-aged men, he says.

Ordinary Romans might have thought Christians were odd but liked having them for neighbors, Stark says.

“If people had really been against them, I don’t think they would have grown like they did,” Stark says.

Christianity became so popular that when Rome did unleash one of its sporadic waves of persecutions, the empire couldn’t stop the church’s momentum, Stark says.

“If you knocked off a bishop, there were 20 guys waiting to be bishop,” Stark says

Christian belonging, not blood, is what drew many people, another scholar says.

The Easter story of a risen savior wasn’t distinctive in Rome’s competitive religious marketplace. Dying for one’s beliefs wasn’t considered heroic; it was expected in the Roman world, says Selina O' Grady, author of "And Man Created God: A History of the World at the Time of Jesus."

The early church, though, was radically inclusive. First-century Rome was undergoing globalization. The peace of Rome had made travel easier. People left homes and tribal ties for Rome. The empire was filled with rootless and excluded people: immigrants, traders, slaves.

The Christian message offered guidelines for living in this strange new world, she says.

“Its universal message, its proclamation of equality, unconditional love, offered everyone in the Roman Empire a new family, a new community, and a way to live,” O’Grady says.

Roman rulers eventually found reasons to support the church, she says.

The Christian message of obeying earthly masters “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and unto God what is God's" reduced the potential for social unrest, O’Grady says.

“Christianity told the poor and lowly that their status was noble and that there would be recompense in the afterlife,” O’Grady says. “It was a wonderful recipe for creating good, obedient Roman subjects.”

A turning point for the early church was the conversion of Constantine. Scholars still debate Constantine’s motive. By that time the empire was rife with division, and Christians had become a major political bloc with members in the highest reaches of Roman society, says Stark, the sociologist.

“Constantine was interested so much in church affairs for the rest of his life, but I don’t think there’s a reason to not think he was a sincere Christian,” Stark says. “But he was also an egomaniac and an emperor.”

The growth of Christianity was too complex to be attributed to any one factor whether it be Constantine, persecution or Christianity's message of compassion and inclusion, Stark says.

“I don’t think there was a primary reason,” he says. “It was a collection of things. It was all part of a package.”

Wrapped in that package, though, were the persecution stories of people such as Perpetua.

Today, churches have been named after Perpetua; films and graphic novels have been made about her life. She is considered a saint.

Her words still inspire. People still read her diary. There’s probably a Christian somewhere in the world now facing danger who is taking courage from Perpetua’s ordeal.

One passage in Perpetua’s diary is particularly luminous.

Perpetua stopped keeping her diary just before she was sent into the arena. No one knows for sure what she felt when she faced her moment of death, but she did write what she expected to see afterward.

She wrote that God gave her a reassuring vision while in prison. In the vision, she saw a great bronze ladder ascending to heaven. At the foot of the ladder was a great serpent surrounded by swords and knives.

Perpetua said she ignored the serpent and climbed the ladder. When she arrived at the top, she saw a great garden and a white-haired man in shepherd’s clothing milking a sheep. He was flanked by thousands of others Christians dressed in white.

“And he raised his head and beheld me and said to me: Welcome child.”

The man gave Perpetua curds from the milk of the sheep, and she said it tasted sweet.

She then wrote:

“And I took it with joined hands and ate it up: and all that stood around said, Amen.”

Centuries later, millions of people who look to Perpetua are still saying amen.

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Christianity • Easter • Faith • History • Jesus

soundoff (6,965 Responses)
  1. Ted

    Jesus loves you and he loves you so much that he gave his life that you might live, and more abundantly.

    March 31, 2013 at 6:36 am |
    • SixDegrees

      Unless you're gay.

      March 31, 2013 at 6:49 am |
    • .

      Christ died that all may be free of sin including those afflicted with unspeakable perversions. you cannot retain your sin and find salvation.

      March 31, 2013 at 6:51 am |
    • End Religion

      There was no Jesus. He never died for anyone's anything. The entire notion someone could be nailed to a cross and suddenly all the bad stuff you do in your own life is Okee Dokee is childish and absurd. Take some responsibility for your actions, turds.

      March 31, 2013 at 6:55 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Unless we don't believe it, then he does't even like us.

      March 31, 2013 at 10:45 am |
    • sqeptiq

      If you don't believe it, you will burn in eternal torment. Sounds a little extreme to me. Tough love, what?

      March 31, 2013 at 10:53 am |
    • nikidog101

      To all the people above:
      Many people dont really understand why jesus had to die on the cross for our sins to be washed away. Saying "jesus dies on the cross so we could live" isnt enough. Jesus died and destroyed death so we could go to heaven. So we could become pure in heaven. God loves every single person in the entire world, no matter if your gay or dont even believe in him. He loves you so much that he died for you! All he wants is your heart, he isn't looking for a slave he is looking for a companion. And God isnt saying "if you dont love me im sending you to hell" like some four year old. He wants every single person to be apart of his family and it is us that turn away fom him. We reject him and then ask why he wasn't there to protect us. We turn. We sin. God has the best interest for us and only wants us, thats the only thing he wants.

      April 1, 2013 at 11:54 am |
  2. In celebration of the resurrection of Christ

    Thank you Jesus !

    March 31, 2013 at 6:30 am |
  3. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    March 31, 2013 at 6:27 am |
    • Magnificent New Channel - MUST SEE!

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pW3PBK6GOv0&w=640&h=390]

      March 31, 2013 at 6:42 am |
    • SixDegrees

      Yes. It makes you weak and dependent.

      March 31, 2013 at 6:48 am |
    • Jesus

      Prayer does not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!

      March 31, 2013 at 9:43 am |
    • Really?

      "Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things"

      That's why the data, has shown that atheists have happier and healthier lives than conservative Christians. Your post is built on a lie!

      March 31, 2013 at 9:47 am |
    • stayinalive

      No it doesn't.

      March 31, 2013 at 10:06 am |
  4. Stud

    One thing is for sure, that chick is hot!

    March 31, 2013 at 5:49 am |
    • SixDegrees

      Second that.

      March 31, 2013 at 6:46 am |
    • sqeptiq

      The ones Nero lit up like a candle were certainly hot. I wonder how the christians feel about all of the thousands of "witches" and heretics that were lit up by christians.

      March 31, 2013 at 10:56 am |
  5. the AnViL™

    the only thing you have to do is tell the truth about xianity – and xians cry. they accuse you of slander and defamation and making threats.

    when you're xian – it's so easy to be persecuted. you don't need any actual evidence.

    but that's the way of xianity.. no evidence required.

    even when there is evidence to the contrary... it is ignored.

    xianity is predicate on ignorance – so why would anyone expect the product of xianity to be anything more than that?

    March 31, 2013 at 3:51 am |
  6. JESUS

    sensible
    How dare you trick all of the fools and the credulous, bet you didn't anticipate it would have caught on and still lasting thousands of years later. You have caused us rational folks tremendous hardships with that lil cross thingy, coming back to life and finding a way out of your tomb was most impressive, not to mention the ascension. We have a guys like that here in the present who can perform that kind of magic. They don't have as many followers as you though,I doubt anybody would kill over them, try to impede science education, put public health at risk, or infringe on peoples happiness in their name. You are truly a piece of work lord jesus.

    get over it weepie.

    best o luck to all the dudes who emulate me

    March 31, 2013 at 2:19 am |
    • Zippy D. Doodah

      I believe in you Jesus. I believe you are the best lawnmower I have ever had.

      March 31, 2013 at 2:23 am |
  7. JESUS

    Yo. when u gona wake up dorothy?

    For what it's worth, in my own subjective opinion, a modern day type of Hypatia / Galileo might be modern author D.M. Murdock, who is an alumna of Franklin & Marshall College where she studied Classics, Greek Civilization.

    might be?

    March 31, 2013 at 2:14 am |
    • Jesus

      Excuse me, fake troll Jesus, but I am the real fake Jesus here, so just you go dream about demon aardvarks singing satanic Abba tunes.

      March 31, 2013 at 2:19 am |
    • Ralph

      You guys can't let up on Christians even on our most sacred Days. You must really REALLY Hate yourselves to your wretched cores. And yes, I do pity you, as I can't imagine how you can continue to function bearing such anger and contempt for others. Your ugly puss permeates every thing you see, say and do. I truly pity you.

      March 31, 2013 at 6:31 am |
    • Science

      A public service....................................................... to educate you Ralph ?

      Science

      Origin of Life: Natural Cause no god(s) required.

      Hypothesis Traces First Protocells Back to Emergence of Cell Membrane Bioenergetics

      December 20, 2012 — A coherent pathway – which starts from no more than rocks, water and carbon dioxide and leads to the emergence of the strange bio-energetic properties of living cells – has been traced for the ...

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/news/fossils_ruins/origin_of_life/

      March 31, 2013 at 7:06 am |
    • sqeptiq

      Ralph obviously has a martyr complex. Ralph, humor is not hate. When people laugh at you, it's because you are funny; they don't take you seriously enough to hate you.

      March 31, 2013 at 11:00 am |
  8. blake

    "sensible
    Austin, we don't know what christ did, we just have partial accounts of his life wriiten decades after the supposed facts in a book written by anybody's guess that contains myths and fairytales. Not to mention about 15- 20 years missing out of his short life span. We don't no much about this guy besides the legends that were obviously added to him."

    ah lassie, you have no proof now do ya?

    March 31, 2013 at 2:07 am |
    • Yeah Right

      I do get a great big laugh out of people who absolutely refuse to provide the slightest evidence for their basic position, then hypocritically demand everyone else provide evidence.

      It's that old kindergarten turnaround tactic, used heavily by people who are trying to divert attention away from their basic inability to debate properly or honestly.

      March 31, 2013 at 2:11 am |
    • sensible

      Proof of what blake??

      March 31, 2013 at 2:18 am |
    • blake

      we just have partial accounts

      dorothy

      March 31, 2013 at 2:30 am |
    • Joe

      Where is the account of the big bang theory? Who was there to record it?

      March 31, 2013 at 6:43 am |
    • sqeptiq

      Joe, we don't have a single account of jesus that was written by someone who was there. Why do you believe it?

      March 31, 2013 at 11:03 am |
  9. Jesus

    I had myself persecuted so that you would be indebted to me forever. It was all planned out before I got here. Just a set-up.

    March 31, 2013 at 1:48 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      And if we don't acknowledge your self imposed persecution you will return the favor.....

      March 31, 2013 at 1:56 am |
    • Jesus

      Well the cool thing about being god is that you are not answerable to anybody, so you can do things like slaughter the human race and demand everybody kiss your ass or you will torture them forever, or whatever. No consequences, so I can be a total jerk. And if you read my book, you already know it's my modus operandi.

      Another cool thing is flinging dead cats at Austin, just to mess with him.

      March 31, 2013 at 2:00 am |
    • .

      I prefer the term "squish kitty" to "dead cat", myself.

      March 31, 2013 at 2:09 am |
    • blake

      sup wit dat, yo homes! u never b, so wat b up wit dat?

      March 31, 2013 at 2:09 am |
    • sensible

      How dare you trick all of the fools and the credulous, bet you didn't anticipate it would have caught on and still lasting thousands of years later. You have caused us rational folks tremendous hardships with that lil cross thingy, coming back to life and finding a way out of your tomb was most impressive, not to mention the ascension. We have a guys like that here in the present who can perform that kind of magic. They don't have as many followers as you though,I doubt anybody would kill over them, try to impede science education, put public health at risk, or infringe on peoples happiness in their name. You are truly a piece of work lord jesus.

      March 31, 2013 at 2:11 am |
    • blake

      yo homes. tell these heathen u b on the level, yo. kickin it 4 real, homes

      c, u b real ain't?

      thanks for that new testament

      what it is? good 2 c u homes

      March 31, 2013 at 2:12 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Now I have to admit the dead cat thing is funny Jesus....

      March 31, 2013 at 2:14 am |
    • Jesus

      My disciples tell me I must refer to it as "squish kitty." However, I have decided to beatify it, so from now on, it is the Most Holy And Pancakey Virgin Saint Squishy Of Kittyareth.

      March 31, 2013 at 2:16 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Our Lady of Perpetual Flat Cats?

      March 31, 2013 at 2:28 am |
    • Science

      Or The Flat cat earth society ?

      March 31, 2013 at 6:55 am |
    • The Non Believer

      Is Austin the Devil Dog?

      March 31, 2013 at 8:36 am |
  10. Seyedibar

    There is zero historical evidence that Christ was persecuted or even existed. The Christians on the other hand, did exist, were persecuted, and then later learned how to persecute everyone else. Let's not pretend it legitimizes their cause. After all, the Westboro Baptists are persecuted as well, and i wouldn't deliver them any credence.

    March 31, 2013 at 1:01 am |
    • blake

      sensible
      fabricated and stolen from the pagan cultures christians seem to can't stand

      very true.

      remind me where that evidence is.

      March 31, 2013 at 1:15 am |
    • biggles

      There is overwhelming credible evidence that Jesus Christ
      lived, that he was god's son and he will return.

      April 1, 2013 at 9:12 am |
  11. Mark

    Once they gained power, however, it was the Christians who persecuted pagans and fellow Christians whom they disagreed with. Take the case of Hypatia. She was probably one of the most brilliant minds of the fourth century and was apparently quite good at dismantling Christian theology so, of course, they murdered her. Cut her into tiny pieces in about the most painful way imaginable.

    As late as the Reformation, Protestant churches executed heretics, including Catholics. That's how they have historically treated those who simply disagree with them.

    March 31, 2013 at 12:33 am |
    • Austin

      They? Historically?

      March 31, 2013 at 12:39 am |
    • Mark

      They meaning "Christians", and how they treated their critics and rivals since achieving power.

      March 31, 2013 at 12:43 am |
    • Austin

      So that's what Christians are to you? Brutal killers?

      Do you think this is what the bible really produces or do you think that regional conflicts are inspired by colonialism or imperialism, just like the roman, greek, Assyrian ,Babylonian, saleucid, ect. The world grew up this way.

      Christ seemed to teach the opposite of this trend. And the new testament gives zero permission to war. Why did Christ not war?

      March 31, 2013 at 12:47 am |
    • Damocles

      Funny that a perfect message of love and peace can get so mysteriously twisted into 'kill all those not like us.'

      March 31, 2013 at 12:52 am |
    • Agnes of Dog

      Yes, Mark. Quakers in New England for another example.

      March 31, 2013 at 12:55 am |
    • sensible

      Austin, we don't know what christ did, we just have partial accounts of his life wriiten decades after the supposed facts in a book written by anybody's guess that contains myths and fairytales. Not to mention about 15- 20 years missing out of his short life span. We don't no much about this guy besides the legends that were obviously added to him.

      March 31, 2013 at 12:58 am |
    • Paris Hilton's Disco Apocalypse and Zombie Day Fashion Show

      At the last supper, Jesus ordered the disciples to arm themselves. Sounds like he was going to go Baader-Meinhof. That's probably why Judas turned him in: he saw Jesus was turning violent. That's all lost now, of course, but demanding his followers arm themselves is quite damning of his supposed reputation.

      March 31, 2013 at 1:04 am |
    • blake

      Hypatia never existed

      March 31, 2013 at 1:08 am |
    • .

      Austin, Christians did, in fact, persecute other people. Make no mistake that what Mark is saying is true. Crusades, anyone? Knights Templar? Spanish Inquisition? Ring a bell? To deny this is denying a part of Christian history, and even if you disagree, history speaks for itself.

      March 31, 2013 at 1:09 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Austin,

      The beginning of christianity featured Christians persecuting other Christians for what they thought of the nature of Jesus. The winners of that war of persecution shaped what you believe today about your religion. In a sense your beliefs are a product OF Christian persecution.

      March 31, 2013 at 2:08 am |
    • Mark

      blake
      Hypatia existed every bit as much as other figures from back then. Unless you want to challenge ancient sources, in which case you'll likely erode the foundations of Christianity more than those of paganism.

      March 31, 2013 at 3:42 pm |
  12. End Religion

    Of course it's all fabricated. Everything about Christianity is fabricated.

    March 31, 2013 at 12:25 am |
    • sensible

      fabricated and stolen from the pagan cultures christians seem to can't stand

      March 31, 2013 at 12:33 am |
    • Austin

      " By the Word of the Lord were the heavens created, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.... For HE SPAKE AND IT WAS DONE; HE COMMANDED AND IT STOOD FAST". (psalm 33:6-9)

      " In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word WAS God; by him were all things created... .....And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us". John 1
      Edited 2 years ago Report Abuse

      March 31, 2013 at 12:43 am |
    • sensible

      Austin, you can replace lord and god with any other fictional character you want and those verses will mean just as much....absolutely nothing!!

      March 31, 2013 at 12:51 am |
    • Gotta try that theory out

      " By the Word of Elmer Fudd were the heavens created, and all the host of them by the breath of Elmer's mouth.... For HE SPAKE AND IT WAS DONE; HE COMMANDED AND IT STOOD FAST". (psalms of Elmer 33:6-9)

      " In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with Elmer and the Word WAS Elmer; by him were all things created... .....And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we were to be vewry very kwiet, as Lord Elmer was hunting wabbits". JohnBoy 1

      March 31, 2013 at 1:09 am |
    • sensible

      See the same effect, absolutely nothing!! ha,ha!!!

      March 31, 2013 at 1:11 am |
    • Damocles

      Isn't bird the word?

      March 31, 2013 at 1:20 am |
    • Agnes of Dog

      No, Grease is the Word.

      (or you can also say Joel Osteen is the Word – same thing)

      March 31, 2013 at 1:23 am |
    • Damocles

      Ahhh, yes, grease is the word... it's got groove.... meaning.

      March 31, 2013 at 1:26 am |
    • Agnes of Dog

      "grease is the word... it's got groove.... meaning."
      "and it keeps Joel's hair from leaving . . ."

      March 31, 2013 at 1:29 am |
    • Damocles

      LOL!

      March 31, 2013 at 1:40 am |
    • Joe

      What have you done lately that will be followed by billions of people and remembered 2000 years from now?

      March 31, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
  13. Topher

    This is real persecution ... http://www.persecution.com/public/restrictednations.aspx?clickfrom=bWFpbl9tZW51

    March 31, 2013 at 12:01 am |
    • Saraswati

      There is no doubt some persecution of Christians occurring in the world, just as there is persecution of Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, Atheists, capitalists, communists and pretty much every other group. But Christians in the US screaming persecution fall somewhere between raving loons and pathetic whiners.

      March 31, 2013 at 12:08 am |
    • Topher

      Yeah, name-calling on these message boards is hardly persecution.

      March 31, 2013 at 12:09 am |
    • Austin

      I haven't noticed any name calling .

      March 31, 2013 at 12:18 am |
    • Topher

      haha. Yes. Everyone here is a perfect gentleman.

      March 31, 2013 at 12:22 am |
    • Austin

      Happy resurrection Sunday and festivals weekend bud.

      March 31, 2013 at 12:37 am |
    • Jethro Bodine

      Aaaaaaah, Topher feels . . . persecuted.

      You've made his day. There is nothing a Christian delights in more than the ability to claim they are persecuted.

      March 31, 2013 at 12:38 am |
    • Saraswati

      I assumed Topher's statement was sincere. The alternative reading would be pretty bizarre.

      March 31, 2013 at 12:41 am |
    • Damocles

      Oh, good grief, someone called me a name.... help! help! I'm being persecuted! My over-blown sense of superiority has been damaged! Slay... I mean, bring sweet sweet justice against those that do not agree with me, oh mighty invisible friend of mine!

      March 31, 2013 at 12:46 am |
    • Austin

      Ok......do you feel persecuted when someone says you deserve to go to hell or says you are involved in evil or that you follow Satan? What does that feel like?

      March 31, 2013 at 12:50 am |
    • Saraswati

      "do you feel persecuted when someone says you deserve to go to hell or says you are involved in evil or that you follow Satan"

      No, I do not feel persecuted. If I had a family member who said it I would be saddened, but as it is I mostly think it's kind of funny. If, on the other hand, they were enacting laws to tear apart my marriage and prevent me from raising children I might feel persecuted. Oh, wait...

      March 31, 2013 at 12:53 am |
    • Paris Hilton's Disco Apocalypse and Zombie Day Fashion Show

      No, I don't feel persecuted when I'm told I going to hell. I feel that I'm in the presence of a blithering nincompoop who is stupid enough to believe that insane blather.

      March 31, 2013 at 12:55 am |
    • Damocles

      Well golly gee whiz, austin, it would hurt my feelings ever so much to the point that I'd cry myself to sleep every night. I mean, if I can't be friends with you and topher, life just doen't seem to make much sense. Ahhhhahahahahahaha... sorry, couldn't hold back the laughter for very long.

      March 31, 2013 at 12:55 am |
    • Topher

      Damocles

      I'll be your friend, dude.

      March 31, 2013 at 1:00 am |
    • Saraswati

      Do you get the idea here Austin? None of us feel "persecuted" by anything anyone says to us on these subjects, only by genuine actions of repression which Christians in the US are not being subjected to unless they seriously stretch the meaning of that term to a point at which I can only assume their god would look on them with disgust. Real people in the world right now are being persecuted. Really and truly persecuted. And you guys whine because you are called out on your beliefs or called a name you don't like? Is there something about Christians that makes you particularly weak, despite being the overwhelming majority, or do you want so much to fit the myth of Christian persecution that you imagine it everywhere?

      March 31, 2013 at 1:01 am |
    • Austin

      Well it is stated that you all know exactly who God is, and I believe that your flesly brain chooses to form a persecution complex involving hell. And this is why you hate God, aside from your appeti.te for sensual sin and His holiness.

      March 31, 2013 at 1:04 am |
    • Damocles

      Well, holy hell, cue the touching music! Topher and I are buds! Thick as thieves! Pals to the end! Bros before ho's!

      March 31, 2013 at 1:07 am |
    • Topher

      I don't mind it when you guys disagree with me... or even think my beliefs are crazy. But I don't understand the name-calling. I mean, as.suming we're all adults here, there's no need to talk like naughyt adolescents.

      March 31, 2013 at 1:07 am |
    • Saraswati

      "Well it is stated that you all know exactly who God is, and I believe that your flesly brain chooses to form a persecution complex involving hell. And this is why you hate God, aside from your appeti.te for sensual sin and His holiness."

      It's the idea that you think this statement makes sense that calls into serious concern your mental health. I believe you already have a psychiatrist. Please, just as an experiment, take this statement to your next appointment and ask for an opinion.

      March 31, 2013 at 1:09 am |
    • Austin: Winner of the "Unclear on the Concept" award

      Hate the guy we don't believe in. R i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i ght

      March 31, 2013 at 1:11 am |
    • Damocles

      Yeah, I always feel persecuted when I'm told I'm going to be sent to a place that doesn't exist by an enti-ty that doesn't exist. If I recall, and I'm sure I could find a post or two to support my recollection, it's the believers that seem to state they know exactly what a deity is thinking even while claiming that people can't know what a deity is thinking. It's a 9.5 on the mental gymnastic scale, the .5 deduction due to the poor dismount.

      March 31, 2013 at 1:12 am |
    • Saraswati

      "I mean, as.suming we're all adults here, there's no need to talk like naughyt adolescents."

      Sometimes it's just more fun that way when the right context arises. I mean, I usually refrain myself but when someone is a total think numbskull who repeats the exact same thing over and over and acts like a 4 year old, what the heck. It's like going home at 40 and visiting your siblings. When everyone around you acts like a kid you get sucked into it yourself, and I really don't think it's all bad. You just have to pick and choose the context you want to play in.

      March 31, 2013 at 1:14 am |
    • Damocles

      Well, damn, make up your mind! Only name I've called you this time around is friend and pal and bud. I'll withdraw such hateful names of you are going to get all bent out of shape about it.

      March 31, 2013 at 1:18 am |
    • .

      "And this is why you hate God, aside from your appeti.te for sensual sin and His holiness.”
      This sentence makes zero sense. Are you trying to say that people who do not believe in God still crave his attention? That is rather like saying someone who doesn't believe in the Easter Bunny still craves his attention...did you think not think this sentence through before you posted it, Austin?

      March 31, 2013 at 1:21 am |
    • Austin

      Here is the Deal that matters. You reject everything that God does. You hate the idea that God is or did anything that He did do. And delusion is a regular term , sky farm..........whatever. You have nice qualities.

      But you hate what God does and object to His ways in culture, and to testimonies of His works. This isn't persecution?

      It's an extension of the crucifixion. And it has a prophetic ending. ..............

      March 31, 2013 at 1:27 am |
    • .

      Austin. You are once again lumping people together and generalizing them as if they were all the same. Let me ask you this: do you think I should lump you as thinking the same as lol??/Gave Them Up, Salero21, truth be told, captain america, pervert alert, etc? They all profess to be Christian, after all...

      March 31, 2013 at 1:31 am |
    • Austin

      Goodnight. May the love of Christ dwell richly in you.

      I do love people! You are all very special.

      March 31, 2013 at 1:33 am |
    • Austin

      You can lump us together because we can alL hold each other accountable . We are all brothers and sisters. We all transgress.

      March 31, 2013 at 1:36 am |
    • Saraswati

      "But you hate what God does and object to His ways in culture, and to testimonies of His works. This isn't persecution? "

      Several issues here. First, as has been pointed out several times, people who don't believe in god can't hate what he does because they don't believe he does anything. This may seem like a technicality to you but if you keep using this language the conversation will never progress.

      March 31, 2013 at 1:37 am |
    • Saraswati

      *Some* atheists find the concept of *some* gods (let's say here the Christian god) highly desp.icable. This group is however in the minority, just very vocal. Most find some parts of the Christian god a bit immoral. For instance, the idea of damning people eternally for not believing comes off as a bit short sighted and self-centered. Doesn't mean he doesn't also do some nice stuff, particularly for those he likes.

      So you might say "Some of you disapprove of some of the actions Christians believe our god takes." Now, this isn't an exciting statement, but it's closer to the truth and is more likely to get off the ground as a conversation starter.

      And no, disliking this image isn't persecution. Who would it be persecuting...God? We don't believe that god exists and he should be all powerful so that's not likely. Christians then? But all we're doing is criticizing an idea...how is that persecution?

      March 31, 2013 at 1:38 am |
    • Austin

      Because God is life, a living spirit who in dwells the church, the individual people. And he is not an idea. He is the authoritative truth in me and he has revealed this. This isn't open minded .

      Peace.

      March 31, 2013 at 2:00 am |
    • .

      "You can lump us together because we can alL hold each other accountable . We are all brothers and sisters. We all transgress."
      Then I guess you, and all Christians, are racist bigots, because the people I named in my prior post surely are.
      I didn't lump you in with them, because I disagree that all Christians are racist bigots, but since you clearly agree that you're all brothers and sisters,therefore you're all racist bigots... well alrighty then...

      Sigh. Excusing crappy behavior because they're Christian is shameful. Highly doubtful this is what Jesus intended.

      March 31, 2013 at 2:02 am |
    • Saraswati

      Austin, George Washington existed. Bit if I met a person who did not believe he existed I would not claim that person hated George Washington...how could they? Aside from being nonsensicle it would be apoor conversational tactic for me to keep claiming thay hated George, because the silliness of the statement would be the only thing ever discussed. You can keep on saying this if you want, but I hope in that case you aren't actually expecting to have any listeners.

      March 31, 2013 at 2:06 am |
    • Science

      To topher........................................ talk about being persecuted .......................is the fairy in the fossil bed ?

      Looks like that funky talking snake ?.

      Strange Spaghetti-Shaped Creature Is Missing Link: Discovery Pushes Fossil Record Back 200 Million Years

      Mar. 13, 2013 — Canada's 505 million year-old Burgess Shale fossil beds, located in Yoho National Park, have yielded yet another major scientific discovery – this time with the unearthing of a strange spaghetti-shaped creature.

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130313142526.htm

      March 31, 2013 at 6:16 am |
  14. Saraswati

    Summary: Christians see themselves as persecuted because the myth of their persecution fits into the story they are told in the bible.

    March 30, 2013 at 11:57 pm |
    • Austin

      I experienced special revelation. The Holy Spirit revealed His power and I am simplY telling the truth to you .

      March 31, 2013 at 12:20 am |
    • Saraswati

      Yes, Austin, I understand you have been telling what you believe is the truth. My comment didn't refer to you as I don't ever recall you specifically talking about persecution though I may have missed it.

      March 31, 2013 at 12:21 am |
    • Austin

      The delusional and mentally Ill names and hostile resentment would be a different action in a society where A&a wasn't hip. This is university America. any hatred related to the evil of the crucifixion is a realm of evil.

      The main thing about this age, is the prophetic detail of a worldwide secular world system. And the increase of knowledge spurring a decrease in wisdom. But then one third of the world is about to die. It's called the white horse. The arrogance involved in calling Christians delusional and mentally Ill shows what really lies beneath the surface.

      There are only two roads.

      March 31, 2013 at 12:34 am |
    • Mark

      Austin
      You dreamt about God, that was your "special revelation", wasn't it?

      March 31, 2013 at 12:36 am |
    • sensible

      Austin, what makes you special enough to recieve special revelation?? You sure you weren't hearing your own voice or imagining what you wanted..funny how only certain people get these special revelations.

      March 31, 2013 at 12:41 am |
    • Agnes of Dog

      Who the hell uses A&A? lol.

      March 31, 2013 at 12:41 am |
    • Saraswati

      Yeah, I've never seen A&A anywhere else.

      March 31, 2013 at 12:42 am |
    • Saraswati

      "The arrogance involved in calling Christians delusional and mentally Ill shows what really lies beneath the surface. "

      I have actually stated here multiple times that I do not think most Christians are mentally ill and that I believe that is a bad application of the term. That said, your own writings stand out as slightly more troubling than most.

      March 31, 2013 at 12:45 am |
    • Austin

      Well, as I have gone over time and time again, the dreams were journaled, as well as the experiences that she'd light on
      Gods abilities to interact and communicate through control, sovereign ability. I am sincere, and not a liar. And look at the reaction. Hatred. Look at anvil. And together you all stick , and hold hands. You are cooperating in a hostile and demeaning slander against the cross, the Resurrection Truth, and the followers. You propose guilt by association with apostate war machines coining Christianity is a world menace.

      Really though. It is a spiritual matter. This is not between flesh and blood.

      March 31, 2013 at 12:58 am |
    • Damocles

      Right Austin... as long as the Alpha Voice in your head can convince all the other voices in your head that it is correct, it all makes perfect sense.

      March 31, 2013 at 1:02 am |
    • Saraswati

      "I am sincere, and not a liar."

      I have never called you either insincere or a liar.

      "And look at the reaction. Hatred. Look at anvil. And together you all stick , and hold hands."

      "You all?" I have had at least as big of disagreements with AnViL than I have ever had with you. We have very little in common in our thinking or approach. Non-believers here have a very diverse set of beliefs and opinions.

      "You are cooperating in a hostile and demeaning slander against the cross, the Resurrection Truth, and the followers."

      To commit slander I must be speaking untruths. Good luck proving that.

      "You propose guilt by association with apostate war machines coining Christianity is a world menace."

      No idea that you're talking about.

      March 31, 2013 at 1:06 am |
    • Austin

      Not audibly, but you all hear good, and bad influences in your mind and heart. Angels, demons, and your own thoughts?
      And obviously you will deny this and coin it as schitzophrenic but It is true. You feel demonic oppression and angels are helping you learn truths as truth. It is a spiritual battle that intensifies when you start trying.

      March 31, 2013 at 1:08 am |
    • Austin

      Saraswati, I understand that you are very nice. However I have over the past 2-3 months noticed a few times where you will help hang up and ridicule. And no, you are not nearly as bad.

      I am only pointing out that mistreatment and ridicule for the truth, is just never ending. How can it not be mild persecution.?

      March 31, 2013 at 1:13 am |
    • Agnes of Dog

      Austin: "dreams were journaled"

      so you can write stuff down. so there seemed to be coincidences. it's just a mystery to me.

      but to you, you seem hypnotized

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yy-51ZTbFis&w=640&h=390]

      March 31, 2013 at 1:15 am |
    • Damocles

      I think austin has seen too many cartoons where the little angle and devil pop up on Tom's shoulder to debate whether or not he should do some dastardly deed to Jerry.

      March 31, 2013 at 1:16 am |
    • Austin

      Slander is already judged in Gods high court. ......meant "gang up"

      What are we doing around here on a regular basis?

      March 31, 2013 at 1:16 am |
    • Mark

      Austin
      What does it matter that you've journaled your dreams about God? They're just dreams and people dream about all kinds of weird things. You likely dream about God because that's what's on your mind, causing angst, the same way that teens dream about romantic partners, bullies, their futures, their parents, and everything else that causes them stress.

      March 31, 2013 at 1:19 am |
    • Damocles

      I had a dream last night that my cat punched me in the neck, so I guess that's what I have to look forward to when I die. Should be a hoot.

      March 31, 2013 at 1:23 am |
    • Saraswati

      "I am only pointing out that mistreatment and ridicule for the truth, is just never ending. How can it not be mild persecution.?"

      I do think your case is a bit different than the situation with most who are here with their opinions. But the thing is you aren't really here to debate so people don't know what to do with you. Most people come here and post opinions but instead most of what you post are personal stories.

      If I were you I would state out of forums like this altogether. I'm not trying to ick you out or say you don't have anything to offer. But what you are interested in is better suited to a personal blog where you can filter the comments so you can just ignore the people you don't want to deal with. The environment here simply isn't going to change and you are more likely to get a receptive audience on a personal blog appropriately ti.tled and defined.

      March 31, 2013 at 1:23 am |
    • Saraswati

      Sorry, typo, that should have been:

      "If I were you I would stay out of forums like this altogether."

      What I mean is that I just don't think this is the right forum for what you want to accomplish and how you want to interact. The majority of regulars here, Christian, atheist or otherwise, actually enjoy debating. Many, like the trolls, even thrive off people being angry at them. That's obviously not your scene at all. That extreme version isn't my scene either, but I do like the act of debate and I do enjoy being challenged even when that means people call me names. I have both Christians and atheists here who dislike me...it's just not an issue with what I'm here for. But in environments where I do share my own personal stories I wouldn't like that one bit...which is why I keep them well away from here.

      March 31, 2013 at 1:30 am |
    • Pauline

      Austin
      Do you have any reason to think that angels and demons are "speaking" inside your head, and that it isn't just your imagination? What would you say to someone who said that his "voices" were aliens, or ghosts?

      March 31, 2013 at 1:32 am |
    • Austin

      Mark, go to Christians be nice page two, middle of the page, I have 12 revelations written down.

      To the other woman asking about ghosts and aliens.....there is only one world, one human race, one truth. There are angels and demons. Aliens idk, ghosts probably accurate . Divination...........occult. Very true .

      March 31, 2013 at 1:42 am |
    • Damocles

      Do not get my hopes up by implying you are leaving for the night and then disappoint me by hanging around.

      March 31, 2013 at 1:44 am |
    • sensible

      Austin is speaking of angels and demons again, oh boy!!

      March 31, 2013 at 1:48 am |
    • Yeah Right

      Austin is up to 12 now. It was 10 a few days ago.

      Jesus traditionally only gives one revelation, but Austin is so thick that he has to be pounded repeatedly with them.

      March 31, 2013 at 1:56 am |
    • John

      AOD, I think people write things down as a rememberance of God having interacted with them, as a gift from God. It locks in that God is absolutely there, at least for them. The coincidence factor is still there through. As an example Saul walking along the road with other men, and a blinding light appears to only Saul, and a man's voice claiming to be Jesus tells him to stop persecuting Christians. The other men didn't see the light, but did hear the man talking. An odds calculation could be done for that for the likelyhood that:

      – a man would see a brilliant light during his lifetime that no one else saw
      – a man would hear a voice of another man no one else saw
      – all the other men would hear the same voice
      – all the other men would not see the brilliant light
      – Saul would be renamed to Paul and go through with it
      – Paul would arrive at a place where another man shows up at a specific time
      – the other man placing his hand on him and telling him he will be healed
      – Paul can now see, previously blind since the brilliant light event

      The odds for all those are beyond astronomical, but someone could claim it's all coincidence. I could claim it's 1/infinity for the odds of them all happening. Someone that doesn't believe God, could claim it's all made up, I would disagree with them. God has done things so many times, I have to tell him I'm sorry for not remembering to track them all. Infinity is not the norm, but 20 zeros to 60 in the number is. I don't care if anyone believes me, they have the bible they can reference for any miracles they want to analize, if they bother to believe God and get on with doing what he wants done. Most people just either believe him, or don't, dependent on what they wanted in the first place, rather than what he wanted. I would rather know God, and I'm thankful that he gives the gifts he does, when ever he wants to do so. And yes, before anyone counters this: God exists. Don't bother trying, it won't change my view. He's there, and he's been there since before he made the universe... that's who you're up against in denying him credit for what he's done.

      7 heads of science blaspheming against God. 3 mixed heads also blaspheme... claiming God can't be mentioned when describing his creation. They all came from the area surrounding the Mediterranian Sea... and no one cares to credit the only one that could have done it: God.

      – likely

      March 31, 2013 at 3:36 am |
    • the AnViL™

      i'd like to take this opportunity to point out that the folks over at the westboro baptist church feel persecuted.

      it's true – a lot of people don't suffer religious idiocy.

      a lot of people don't suffer the mentally ill either.

      if you feel persecuted... maybe you need to take a look at why you feel that way. what are you doing to bring on these feelings of persecution?

      not going to name any names – but if you roll up onto the cnn belief blog – blather on about driving around nude, crashing your vehicle into a church – the bleat on and on about your prophetic vision dreams – behave in an incredulous manner, prove yourself to be disingenuous – and generally spittle your delusional horse shit all over the place – don't cry about feeling persecuted or whine about someone being mean to you.

      just sayin

      March 31, 2013 at 4:00 am |
    • John's Wobbly World

      It locks in that God is absolutely there, locked into a triangle of days made of hair harvested on the Sun, which only angels can unlock.

      March 31, 2013 at 4:16 am |
    • John

      A, when Stephen looked up and saw heaven open up as they were gnashing on him with their teeth... I believe it happened. If Stephen had lived, he obviously would have written it down, what he saw, or told others. He did describe some before they stoned him to death, but that's how it goes, he didn't have enough time to describe it in depth, and they didn't want to know the truth... kind of like you right now. He'd seen something they had never seen before, and I'm sure he would have written it down if they'd given him time... I would have. But there's as much chance of you believing Stephen, as there is of you believing anyone else when God interacts with someone. And that interaction seals the person God interacts with, they can't deny God ever afterwards, and I'd never want to anyway. I knew long ago that God exists, based purely on what he said. It's still a shock that others can't see it or understand what to me seems so obvious, and so right. He's there, he really is.

      Put on that life support: Jesus Christ of Nazareth... hurry... it's always a shock when you go into work and find someone died over the weekend... or any other day of the week. That's how long you have... God knows... you don't. Hurry...

      March 31, 2013 at 4:22 am |
    • John

      JWW, the same verse you joke about, is from the apostle that knew Jesus, saw heaven, and knew who God is. And the key is, it's all foolishness to you, but the truth to those that believe:

      1Cr 1:18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

      1Cr 1:19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.

      1Cr 1:20 Where [is] the wise? where [is] the scribe? where [is] the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?

      1Cr 1:21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.

      You believing or not, is up to you, and you'll either be brought to God, by God, or you won't, based on what ever you wanted, foolishness, or wisdom... which did you want... which would you accept as the truth. The truth is known... I know the truth. The truth is that God exists and he made everything. He sent his son Jesus to die for the sins of those that would believe him. Believe it or not, it's up to you and your desire for God to help you understand, or save you.

      March 31, 2013 at 4:40 am |
    • John

      JWW, either or

      March 31, 2013 at 5:58 am |
    • Science

      To John......................................... talk about being persecuted .......................is the fairy in the fossil bed ?

      Looks like that funky talking snake ?.

      Strange Spaghetti-Shaped Creature Is Missing Link: Discovery Pushes Fossil Record Back 200 Million Years

      Mar. 13, 2013 — Canada's 505 million year-old Burgess Shale fossil beds, located in Yoho National Park, have yielded yet another major scientific discovery – this time with the unearthing of a strange spaghetti-shaped creature.

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130313142526.htm

      March 31, 2013 at 6:13 am |
    • John

      S, some day you will understand this simple concept: When God does something, that thing he did does not disprove him. It's likely that you will understand it at judgement, given you've been told this so many times in the past.

      The atheists motto:

      "If God is mentioned, deny it ever happened because they'd have to be liars or delusional, and if it actually happened, say nothing did it instead"

      has absolutely no effect on me. I am completely sheilded from it, because I know... repeat... I know God exists, I know he is there. Your atheist motto is much the same as if you'd said, "John, 2+2=1111"... it's like a kid learning math and being all excited they understand something... that they clearly have all confused and distorted. The base fact you need to understand is that nothing never made anything, ever, and you're waiting for nothing to prove it so you can counter my claim that I'm still waiting for it to make a universe on my desktop... it never does... your science's 'nothing god' is impotent and a huge time waster... for you... because you'll be spending a lot of time wasting away... and wondering why you didn't listen to someone that KNOWS God is there.

      What more could you ask for? I know... he'd have to wipe you off the map before you'd believe he's there. Lame.

      March 31, 2013 at 7:10 am |
  15. HarryGP

    Persecution can be as simple as telling others you believe God, and then having 20 people jump all over you to try to convince you to forget God, like they did.

    March 30, 2013 at 11:49 pm |
    • Saraswati

      You're misusing the term here and as a result belittling the experience of people who are actually persecuted. Persecution is an act intended to harm others. People who simply seek to change your mind may be doing so for any number of reasons. Christians do so to save souls, secular humanists do so to better society. Few are actually engaging in persecution. They may, if you have asked them to stop, be involved in unwanted contact of even harassment, but it isn't persecution.

      March 30, 2013 at 11:55 pm |
    • HarryGP

      Politely pulls out dictionary, looks up persecuting, starts typing definition of such:

      Persecuting, present participle of per-se-cute (Verb)
      1. Subject (someone) to hostility and ill-treatment, sep. because of their race or political or religious beliefs
      2. Harass or annoy (someone) persistently

      That pretty much sums up what happens if someone here on this blog posts a simple description of something in the bible, or a verse, or a reply talking about God or Jesus. 20 people then jump all over it to say not to believe it and to forget God.

      Lake jumping comes to mind.

      March 31, 2013 at 12:09 am |
    • Saraswati

      I'm not sure what dictionary you used, but here is Merriam Webster:

      1 : to hara.ss or punish in a manner designed to injure, grieve, or afflict; specifically : to cause to suffer because of belief
      2 : to annoy with persistent or urgent approaches (as attacks, pleas, or importunities) : pester

      I'll give you that #2 (the less common definition) is how the modern Christian is using it, but #1 was the original intent. #2 is something like using the word 'ra. pe' to describe sore feelings after someone misquoted you in the press. In other words, pretty tasteless.

      March 31, 2013 at 12:16 am |
    • Saraswati

      If any Christian wants to tell me that the bible merely predicted that they would be "pestered" in the end times, I'd love to hear that one.

      March 31, 2013 at 12:20 am |
    • End Religion

      Harry, you don't have to forget god, just realize he never existed.

      March 31, 2013 at 12:28 am |
    • Mark

      HarryGP
      Then saying that you don't believe in God and having Christians try to convince you that he exists is also "persecution", right? I know, you prefer to call it "missionary work".

      March 31, 2013 at 12:38 am |
    • HarryGP

      If you try to plant weeds in my garden, End Religion, I will reach for the roundup and make short work of them. I believe God and have no desire for weeds to start growing here.

      March 31, 2013 at 12:39 am |
    • Saraswati

      @HarryGP,

      If you don't want to pick up stray seeds of knowledge, I'd stay out of the public gardens.

      March 31, 2013 at 12:40 am |
    • HarryGP

      Mark, this is a Christian persecution article here on this blog, so naturally Christians will show up and discuss that persecution. And true to form, the persecutors will also chime in with their blurbs of nonsense.

      Praise Jesus! Thank you God for sending him!

      March 31, 2013 at 12:42 am |
    • Damocles

      Ahhh.. so we can use that term 'persecution' when believers go off the deep end about how everyone is going to hell if they don't believe and shout 'repent repent repent' to everyone? Of course not, when they bray like a donkey it's because they are doing it out of 'love.' I love me some double standards.

      March 31, 2013 at 12:42 am |
    • sensible

      I think HarryGp wants a lil knowledge...

      March 31, 2013 at 12:45 am |
    • Mark

      HarryGP
      It's a discussion on the viability of calling the opposition Christians face nowadays an actual "persecution". Some Christians feel it is, which leaves the rest and pretty much everyone else in the world who feel that it isn't. I'm in the majority.

      If you have actual counterarguments please present them.

      March 31, 2013 at 1:07 am |
    • Pauline

      @HarryGP
      By your definition do Christians persecute gays, nonChristians, and atheists by telling them that deserve to go to hell? Do they harass, or annoy others with their missionary work?

      I find it interesting that they very people who send their kids into science classes with the mission to disrupt them through tangent questioning would likely call the police on anyone who dared to raise a question during a Church sermon.

      March 31, 2013 at 1:27 am |
    • Damocles

      @pauline

      When believers persecute, it's called love.

      March 31, 2013 at 1:31 am |
    • Lisa

      HarryGP
      I can remember when I posted on a Christian site that I didn't believe in God. Would you call the reaction I got before they banned me just for saying that "persecution"?

      March 31, 2013 at 1:35 am |
    • Pauline

      Damocles
      Funny, that's what abusive husbands and parents call it too.

      March 31, 2013 at 1:36 am |
    • Damocles

      @pauline

      I know, weird, right?

      March 31, 2013 at 1:39 am |
    • HarryGP

      Pauline and others, if you are not called by God to read or understand his word, your dispute is with God, not me, because I did not create God's word, he did. Now, if you want to behave like animals, and claim we're all animals, I have a dispute with that, because I know we also have a spirit from God within us, and we need to stear clear of sin. Animals, as you know, do not sin, so for you, being godless is your choice to become animal like rather than a child of God. This is your choice to rebel against God, and that is the spirit of Satan driving you to do this. This is a Chrisitian blog article, so mentioning Christian concepts is a normal thing to do here, but as you are not, you will likely disagree and ask that I reject God. Save it for your animal buddies, I believe God, I have no desire to reject him to be an animal rolling around in the mud. I'm sure you'll have fun with this, and your friends will love you all the more for it. You can argue with God about being judged like a human being, rather than an animal, when your judgement day comes.

      If anyone is interested in being a child of God, get a New Testament, believe God and read it. Jesus died for your sins and raised again the third day. Praise Jesus! Thank God for sending him!

      March 31, 2013 at 2:31 am |
    • Pauline

      HarryGP
      I don't have any dispute with God because I don't think he's actually out there to dispute with, but I do have a dispute with the way lots of folks believe God would like them to call others "animals". If Christianity is supposed to make people nicer I don't see much evidence of that in your posts, for example. So, back in your court, Buddy!

      March 31, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
  16. Who is John Blake?

    check yahoo! answers

    March 30, 2013 at 10:56 pm |
    • Langford

      Not able to find anything credible about this writer othen than the regular blog posts on CNN

      March 31, 2013 at 7:34 am |
  17. Ad revenue

    CNN, quickly post this in home page.Or, is that reserved for tomorrow morning? How predictable!

    March 30, 2013 at 10:29 pm |
  18. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    Well, Christians certainly are persecuted in this country in this age. We hurt their feelings and probably interfere with their sleep patterns by calling them out on everything from poor spelling to having a faith grounded in no evidence (at least in its core claims). They try to call right right and wrong wrong and we have the gall to call them intolerant. I don't know about you, but I am feeling deeply ashamed and intend to deal with that by continuing to clean my rifle. Perhaps I'll have a bit of port later with some of the last of Le Bleu d'Élizabeth.

    March 30, 2013 at 10:13 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Sounds like a lovely evening, TTTOO. Have a good time.

      March 30, 2013 at 10:17 pm |
    • Saraswati

      We'll all accept that getting fed to lions is persecution, modern fundamentalist Christians seem to have a very different idea of what counts as being persecuted:

      1. Being told they can't force captive audiences to listen to their prayers, especially on the tax payer's dollar
      2. Being told they can't use other people's money for Christian education for their kids
      3. Suggesting that if their kids learn about Christianity in school they should be equally exposed to information on other religions
      4. Being called out on the historical inaccuracies in their beliefs
      5. Being called out on the scientific inaccuracies in their beliefs
      6. Being told they have to follow the law of the land
      7. Being faced with opinions that hold they are not, contrary to their beliefs, the epitome of morality

      If I were an early Christian being killed for my beliefs I'd be pretty disgusted by this modern crop of hypocritical whiners.

      March 30, 2013 at 10:22 pm |
    • Talullah 13

      Quit deleting posts Saraswati.

      March 30, 2013 at 10:33 pm |
    • sensible

      Tom, Tom, Tom the other One and Saraswati, you guys pretty much summed it up. Thats of course blasphemy to our friends of faith to call out their bs. Or somehow they say it's infringing on their religious liberty or some other crap they hide behind. They amaze me with how they can try to enforce their beliefs upon folks and think that they can be free from scrutiny and criticism at the same time.

      March 30, 2013 at 10:45 pm |
    • Agnes of Dog

      The idiot can't even write the handle the same way when stealing it. (fake "Tallulah")

      March 30, 2013 at 11:06 pm |
    • Talullah 13

      I have been using this handle for the past two months on blogs all over the mother board of national blog forums.

      March 30, 2013 at 11:10 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @Talullah 13,

      I don't know where you've been using that name, but there's a talullah13 here who had the name first. The fact that you're falsely accusing me of deleting posts, something a known troll has been doing to random people all week, makes anything you say pretty suspect.

      March 30, 2013 at 11:14 pm |
    • Akira

      The original wrote her handle tallulah13.
      I wonder where she's been? I haven't seen her in a while.

      March 30, 2013 at 11:30 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @Akira,

      I'm not sure if that was really her down below at 11:01. If so she must have been doubling with another name – I liked her, smart and always had interesting things to say as I recall.

      March 30, 2013 at 11:33 pm |
    • Del

      Saraswati. What do you mean you. Like her ? You are growing fond? Are you twitterpated?

      March 30, 2013 at 11:43 pm |
  19. HotAirAce

    Re: jesus being persecuted, how can a plan going according to plan be called persecution?

    March 30, 2013 at 10:05 pm |
    • TANK!!!!

      Jeebus works in mysterious ways.

      March 30, 2013 at 10:12 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      He intentionally irritated the establishment in an effort to be put to death .....PERSECUTION!!!!

      March 30, 2013 at 10:44 pm |
    • Talullah 13

      you could relate to the evil with your enmity towards God.

      March 30, 2013 at 10:56 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Don't steal my name to post your drivel, asshole!

      March 30, 2013 at 11:01 pm |
    • sensible

      yes, so he could come back as a zombie for a few and then ascend to never neverland. This so 2 billion people one day would follow him cause he died for them a few thousand years prior. Its so plausible!! When will they give it up?

      March 30, 2013 at 11:02 pm |
    • Talullah 13

      who are you?

      March 30, 2013 at 11:07 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @Real tallulah13,

      It was pretty obvious it wasn't you...these twits who have to steal other people's names are like mosquitoes.

      March 30, 2013 at 11:12 pm |
    • Talullah 13

      @Saraswati . you won't admit it ? Thats lame.

      Got the name off an old video game.

      March 30, 2013 at 11:31 pm |
    • Akira

      Oh! Spoke to soon!
      Hi, tallulah! How are you?

      March 30, 2013 at 11:33 pm |
    • Talullah 13

      I missed you Akira. I love you so much. Muah.

      March 30, 2013 at 11:35 pm |
    • Del

      Oh fine , it was me. If you are going to keep deleting posts then I have to go undercover and investigate the perp.

      March 30, 2013 at 11:40 pm |
    • Akira

      I was talking to tallulah13, not Talullah 13.
      Guess it was a fly-by post.

      March 31, 2013 at 12:37 am |
  20. Oh no, not Blakey

    Facepalm

    March 30, 2013 at 10:01 pm |
    • What does satan look like?

      mossy

      March 30, 2013 at 10:03 pm |
    • Real News

      http://www.persecution.org

      March 30, 2013 at 10:06 pm |
    • Serene

      Yes, what is happening in Africa and Asia is real persecution. These people think a hurt feeling is persection; they need to grow up and realize what the word means.

      March 30, 2013 at 11:05 pm |
    • On Easter Sunday cnn mocks Christians!

      SHAME ON YOU!!!

      March 31, 2013 at 7:26 am |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      This is a much better essay by Mr. Blake than his piece on Tuesday (Like GOP, Evangelicals look to rebrand) was.

      http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/03/26/like-gop-evangelicals-look-to-rebrand/

      March 31, 2013 at 7:24 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      ... Even if it is a bit long.

      March 31, 2013 at 7:25 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.