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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. D. Bolster

    You REALLY need to get some better educated people to write stories. This person completely writes off the "slaughter of the innocents" by Herod...The many thousands killed by the mentally ill Nero...yeah, remember him...then you have Pilate that was FIRED by the Romans for being too brutal (let me laugh at that one)....he killed groups of Jews and Christians every chance he got...puhleeeease.

    March 31, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
    • John P. Tarver, MS/PE

      In Greek Cesar Nero is 666. Revising history is important to ending Christianity as we know it. In Europe the church is nearly dead.

      March 31, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
    • Wallace

      All religious people are mentally ill. So, they duke it out, and stupidest survive.

      March 31, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
    • TANK!!!!

      "In Europe the church is nearly dead."

      Thank you Jeebus!

      March 31, 2013 at 5:21 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      Apparently, actually reading the article was too challenging for you.

      I'd suggest a program called "Hooked On Phonics". People have told me it has a high success rate.

      March 31, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
  2. Steve

    What the heck CNN??? For shame.

    I can't stand Fox for their obvious pro-conservative opinion pieces and conservative agenda, but this is equally shameless! On the EASTER DAY you put on your front page an editorial piece, representing just one person's perspective, trashing Christian history ("oh, they weren't that persecuted, it's part of their lies").

    I'm sure some liberals will zealously cheer this horrendously red-meat article, just like Fox News conservatives cheer right wing red meat, but this is just absurd. You can't resist saying some non-negative about Christians, even on Easter? You're devolving into a mirror of Fox News.

    March 31, 2013 at 5:06 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Perhaps you could provide a list of which days it would be acceptable to publish alternative views to the christian dead jew zombie death cult. I suspect it will be short – empty most likely.

      March 31, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
    • Say Wha?

      CNN is free to post stories questioning Christianity on the February 30, September 31st, and the 36th of December.

      March 31, 2013 at 5:18 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      What is "Christian" history, how does it differ from actual history, and how does the presentation of simple fact "trash" anything other than ignorance?

      March 31, 2013 at 5:26 pm |
  3. Steve From New York

    I just wish atheists would tell me how they feel in person. I would looooooooove for a guy like Bill Maher to say the things he says on TV, to my face. He would be eating soup for a loooooooooooong time.

    March 31, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
    • John P. Tarver, MS/PE

      The fools of the left have a large following.

      March 31, 2013 at 5:09 pm |
    • Wallace

      You are obviously mentally ill. Do you want me to arrange a comfy place for you?

      March 31, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
    • Mark From Middle River

      As a Christian to another Christian. Steve, are we to that point now. There are a lot of rabid Atheist but there are some who are not bad and are more even tempered than the rabid ones on our side. Is there a time and place to resort to violence, yes but words and statements are not one of them.

      Keep up the good fight Steve, but there is another way.

      March 31, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      A typical hypocritical christian cult member response.

      March 31, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
    • The real Tom

      No, there isn't. Not when dishonest sh!ts like you are here, Piddler. You lie, twist, fib and lie some more every time you post some drivel.

      March 31, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
    • Mark From Middle River

      TomTom, calm down. It's okay. I am back now. You declare them as twist and a lie, I am just presenting you with what you already fear to know. I mean, I did love when you stated that the 7th amendment didn't exist. :)

      Yes TomTom, my girl I am back... Did you miss me? Giving up posting for Lent was difficult.

      March 31, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
    • The real Tom

      That's the Piddler we all know–lying at every turn.

      Thanks for proving what Christians are really like.

      March 31, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
    • The real Tom

      You are such a lousy writer it's not surprising you still haven't managed to get that bachelor's degree, Piddles.
      My word, you're stupid.

      March 31, 2013 at 5:21 pm |
    • PallasAthene

      Yes, a lovely Christian sentiment. Don't like how I believe? Here's my fist to prove my point.

      March 31, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
    • Mark From Middle River

      TomTom. If all you have is name calling and pure blind hatred, then as I said....easily beatable will you be in any debate. When cornered you can not back up your words and atheist views ma'am.

      March 31, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Not only can you not write, you can't read:In fact, there is no const intuitional right to a jury of one’s peers.

      March 31, 2013 at 5:25 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Back them up? Why would I need to back anything up, you twit?

      I have not made any claims. None. Except that you're a moron, and that's pretty evident to anyone who's seen you get eviscerated by tallulah.

      March 31, 2013 at 5:26 pm |
    • The real Tom

      And the Piddler will whine on and on about how there's "another way" when what he really means is that he can post lie after lie and paint it up with pretty little emoticons and "ma'ams". It will still be nothing but flat-out sh!te.

      March 31, 2013 at 5:28 pm |
    • Mark From Middle River

      Double posting TomTom.... Trust me, think of what you want to say and then type them out. When you double post one after another it just shows that I got you so riled that you are swinging blindly.

      March 31, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
    • The real Tom

      "If all you have is name calling and pure blind hatred,"

      It's not all I have. It's just all I need for a simpleton like you, Piddles.

      Did you locate any Const itutional right to a jury of one's peers yet? Get right on that.

      March 31, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Nah. I'm just faster than you are. You're slow and stupid; that's not my fault. Did you find the right to a trial by a jury of one's peers in the Const itution, yet, Piddles?

      March 31, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
    • Mark From Middle River

      >>>"Did you locate any Const itutional right to a jury of one's peers yet? Get right on that."

      Yeah, I burned that argument to the ground a while ago. 7th and the definition of peers and jury. Like I said ...still swinging blindly ma'am.

      March 31, 2013 at 5:32 pm |
    • The real Tom

      No, you didn't. It's not there. There's a right to a trial by a jury, but nothing about it being a jury of one's peers.

      Fail, Piddles. Better get yourself house trained, honey.

      March 31, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
    • Mark From Middle River

      Yes, many feel they are fast but the rest of us just see them as stumbling ..greatly :)

      March 31, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
    • The real Tom

      The trouble is that you're so damned dumb you don't know that the founding fathers didn't include most of the rights we enjoy today in the Const itution OR the BOR. That's because they figured that idiots like you would interpret any enumeration of some rights as limiting us to those rights only. It doesn't work that way, Marky-poo. We have separation of church and state. It's a fact whether it's in the Const itution or not. It's a fact.

      March 31, 2013 at 5:36 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Who's "many of us"? You got a gerbil up your ass again, Marky? You know that's not good for your butt. Better quit the habit.

      March 31, 2013 at 5:37 pm |
    • The real Tom

      You let us all know when you figure out the difference between an art museum and a courtroom. Have your gerbil help you. ;)

      March 31, 2013 at 5:38 pm |
    • Mark From Middle River

      March 31, 2013 at 5:36 pm 

      March 31, 2013 at 5:37 pm

      March 31, 2013 at 5:38 pm

      Yeah, your on a mental even level. :) Tom, please keep going, each post from you just shows that the Atheist side very much so, does have its Westburo faction.

      March 31, 2013 at 5:44 pm |
    • sam stone

      wel, i am certainly impressed by your internet bravery, pen-day-ho

      March 31, 2013 at 7:14 pm |
  4. Aji Joe

    "Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

    March 31, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
    • Magnificent New Channel - MUST SEE!

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

      March 31, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
  5. Wallace

    The best thing that should have happened to Christians is that they should have been eaten by the lions. The Romans obviously sucked at it. We have done a much more effective job with the American Indians.

    March 31, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
  6. Filson Willips

    If jews are the chosen people, how come they ask a majority christian nation for so much aid ? Seriously, Israel is always mooching money from us.

    March 31, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
    • Wallace

      The were not the chosen nation, Germans were.

      March 31, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
    • Mark From Middle River

      With furloughs and government cuts happening our president just gave 200million to Jordan and 500 million to the Palestinians.

      March 31, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
  7. Aji Joe

    Repent, weep and believe in Gospel

    March 31, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
    • FreeFromTheism

      you're a bot, aren't you?

      March 31, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
    • Aji Joe

      Don't forget to speak in tongues and run around the room with your arms flailing akimbo.

      You just don't get to use the word "akimbo" enough these days.

      March 31, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
  8. The real Tom

    I see that Dickie Doo Dawson is now in the running for being just as stupid as Mark the Piddler. It's a close race. Mark's going to win, though. He's about as bright as a two-watt bulb.

    March 31, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
    • Zingo

      Why did you feel the need to insult two-watt bulbs like that?

      March 31, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
  9. Filson Willips

    Christians and catholics built the greatest country ever known to man. What country was better than America ? None. We built that. The end !!!!!

    March 31, 2013 at 4:58 pm |
    • Filson Willips

      And we invented the porcupine too!

      March 31, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
    • Filson Willips

      C'mon butthurt jew. You're resorting to using my name and posting ? Is your bum that hurt from my comment ?

      March 31, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
    • Filson Willips

      I just thought you might want to go back to Duke Wins By 20

      March 31, 2013 at 5:03 pm |
  10. Ed

    Does CNN have a vendetta against Christianity? I definitely see a trend in articles posted. It's Easter after all and I see a post like this?

    March 31, 2013 at 4:58 pm |
    • FreeFromTheism

      admit that you didn't even read the article

      March 31, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
    • Ed

      Read half of it. That was enough. I'm not even disagreeing with it. Just thought it was bad timing, and a little disrespectful.

      March 31, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
  11. Aji Joe

    Repent and believe in Gospel

    March 31, 2013 at 4:57 pm |
    • FreeFromTheism

      or else!

      March 31, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
    • lolwut

      NO U

      March 31, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
    • Shout-Out: TheBibleReloaded

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uSKAGA7AwLQ&w=640&h=390]

      March 31, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
  12. Mike Motts

    You can bash christians, but please be sure to bash jews who make their wives wear wigs because you're not supposed to see their hair because it's 'holy.' Also, be sure to poke fun of them touching things that hang on doors, every time they walk through a door.

    March 31, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
  13. Aji Joe

    Repent and believe in Gospel so that you may live

    March 31, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
    • The Hippy Dippy Weather

      You'll have much more fun at Burning Man

      March 31, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
    • rick

      i am already living, thanks

      March 31, 2013 at 4:57 pm |
  14. dukesurlaw

    You'd either have to be really blind, really stupid, or a complete and total liar to say that there are not anti-Christian sentiments floating around from media outlets like this one.

    Candida Moss is one of the three.. I think we all know what she is.

    March 31, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
    • keb carerra

      I was thinking just the opposite. CNN runs this christian trash all the time . Lets remember all those persecuted and killed by the same christian church on this day . I think they need a voice.

      March 31, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
    • lolwut

      I do know what she is: secksay!

      March 31, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
  15. woody

    The problem with christianity today is most christians have no idea of where the very beginnings of their religion came from . Most have no idea where Jesus was supposed to have been born . All they know is there is a white guy on a cross when in fact white guys did not come from where Jesus supposedly came from . Just for your info try Asia at Asia Minor . Somewhere around Syria . The land of oz a white man on a cross ! Christians would prefer not to pray to someone a little darker when in reality that is the shade Jesus would have been !

    March 31, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
    • Donny

      So Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski isn't the messiah?

      March 31, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
  16. Aji Joe

    Repent and believe in Gospel

    March 31, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
  17. Duke Wins By 20

    In all seriousness, I don't mind this piece. Only the uninformed look on with contempt. Most of us know that the jewish media is behind bringing down christianity via stories like this. It's just making people who ordinarily wouldn't follow, follow. Many realize the scheme at hand. Please, keep doing this. You're only making us stronger. Keep in mind, it was God fearing christians who gave their lives to fight Germany. You remember ; the country that almost wiped you out and showed no mercy for your people. Way to say thanks.

    March 31, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Aw, look, another christian who is pretending to be persecuted. I guess that just proves the point of the story.

      March 31, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
    • One one

      Just like Hitler, blame it on the Jews.

      March 31, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
    • Duke Wins By 20

      Not complaining. It's growing our numbers and upping the dedication. Keep going, please. Love it!!!!!

      March 31, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
    • Rolph Eczema

      That's for reminding us of the centuries of persecution of the Jews by you "persecuted" Christians.

      March 31, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      If it wasn't for high birth rates in third world countries, the christian dead jew zombie would be rapidly shrinking. Well ok, you do have the dummies in the American Babble Belt to help prop up your numbers.

      March 31, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Ooops – left a word out – should have typed "the christian dead jew zombie cult."

      March 31, 2013 at 4:58 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Considering that the fastest growing "religious" demographic in this country are those who chose not to follow any church, I think that you've got the part about "growing numbers" wrong. Even those who still believe are tired of the dishonesty of organized religion.

      March 31, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
  18. SAAB

    "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."

    she reminds me of a young girl from Conan the Barbarian movie, singing hymns throws herself into a snake pit to be consumed by the serpent, happily, without any hesitation

    March 31, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      We can pretty much figure out that this person , when confronted by these wild animals, likely did not keep her composure as the story goes, edited for dramatic impact.

      Instead she would have said the equivelant of oh crap...especially when confronted by a wild cow?...really ...I'm reading that right...it does say cow right?

      March 31, 2013 at 5:03 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Re: wild cow, this story, or this part of it, is obviously untrue. Sarah Palin is wearing but not old enough to have been around when this part of the christian fairy tale took place.

      March 31, 2013 at 5:09 pm |
  19. Aji Joe

    This is a part of continuing effort from the anti Christians in CNN.... This is another effort from Satan trying to push his agenda through its people in CNN and the author like this one. But CNN was not the one to do these things first- we have seen these kinds of efforts throughout the history from Devil.. Beware of the anti Christians in CNN folks....

    March 31, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Repet-itive delusional nonsense is still delusional nonsense.

      March 31, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
    • Satan

      You are already on my roll list, Aji!

      Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!

      March 31, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Apparently the desire to be a martyr is alive and well in modern christians. It's rather sad that they need to lie about people picking on them to feel better about being the dominant religion in this country.

      March 31, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
  20. Duke Wins By 20

    Hey, what do I care if liberals don't bathe. It's their God given right to smell.

    March 31, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
    • tallulah13

      And it's your absolute right to be a complete liar. Just don't expect to be rewarded or respected for it.

      March 31, 2013 at 5:00 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.