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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. anon

    I have more credible witness.

    John 15:19-21
    New King James Version (NKJV)

    19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. 21 But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me.

    I think we have more bombastic opinions than anything else in this country with little to no accountability.

    Matthew 12:35-37
    New King James Version (NKJV)

    35 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart[a] brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. 36 But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. 37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

    April 1, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
    • Jimmy

      Yet, again, these are not witness accounts; they are stories featuring witness accounts. John Grisham books are full of that kind of thing, but that doesn't make them nonfiction, does it?

      April 1, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
    • anon

      I guess that depends on whether or not you believe John Grisham's word to be true. I quoted Christ because I believe what He said would happen did and does happen. If one doesn't believe the truth of God's word then obviously it is fiction to them. Jesus predicted the persecution of His children and the accounts in the Epistle's (Stephen) support this.

      Peter said that those in Christ are a 'peculiar people' and he couldn't be more correct. It's to be expected.

      April 1, 2013 at 12:25 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Jimmy:
      Read Richard Bauckham's "Jesus & the Eyewitnesses." The knowledge demonstrated in the Gospel accounts was necessarily almost entirely firsthand.

      April 1, 2013 at 12:29 pm |
    • Jimmy

      Russ
      Bauckham uses the Gospels themselves as internal evidence of their own eyewitness accounts but, if you're willing to accept the Gospels as trustworthy by their own declaration and you're easily impressed by the force of the author's argument alone then it might be compelling. Personally, I'd like some external validation of what the Gospels report before I consider taking them seriously.

      April 1, 2013 at 8:32 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Jimmy: clearly you didn't read the whole book. He uses both internal & external.

      Here's a video example on one of the externals (new statistical data regarding name usage that necessarily puts the accounts in the same region & time):

      April 1, 2013 at 9:58 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Russ

      Oh yes, because knowing a name concurrent to the time proves magic.
      Harry Potter had London in it, therefore there is a Hogwarts.

      April 1, 2013 at 10:01 pm |
    • Russ

      @ hawaiiguest: per your usual... that was not the discussion. here is definitive proof that the authors of the Gospel accounts had firsthand knowledge of the region particular to the time of Jesus. that goes *directly* against the oft-advanced criticism that the Gospels had no such access or knowledge.

      to your argument: no, it does not prove the miraculous in and of itself, but now the notion that these were later fabrications (completely separate from the time and events in question) is a factually impossible – a major blow to anyone wanting to dismiss them shallowly out of hand.

      in other words, this places Gospel writers at "the scene of the crime" (so to speak). so we are left to deal with these firsthand accounts as they really are: eyewitnesses. the only remaining question: will you believe their eyewitness testimony?

      April 2, 2013 at 9:37 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Russ

      Do you have any specifics on what could only have been first hand knowledge?

      April 2, 2013 at 9:39 pm |
    • Russ

      @ hawaiiguest: there's an hourlong video detailing the scholarship above. just watch the first section.

      April 2, 2013 at 9:44 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Russ

      1) I don't care to watch an hour long video
      2) If you have the information, why not present it now instead of redirecting to another apologist?

      April 2, 2013 at 9:46 pm |
    • Russ

      @ hawaiiguest:
      1) that's why i said the *first* section
      2) watching the first 10 minutes of the video would be faster than me typing for 20 minutes to explain this.

      here's a shorter shot at explaining the scholarship (though admittedly, watching just 10 minutes will give you a clearer picture):
      a) statistically, we now have unprecedented access to ancient data due to technology (internet, database access internationally, etc.).
      b) for the first time, we are getting overarching pictures that only computers could crunch. one such sample: statistical data on name usage by decade & region.
      for example, the top 50 names in a particular geographic region (say Jerusalem vs. Antioch vs. Damascus vs. Alexandria) would shift by location as well as by decade.
      c) we can compare the relative usage of names. were the names used in the Bible accurate to the region and time of the supposed events?
      someone fabricating these accounts at a later date simply would not have access to that information. the names they would fabricate would not match those of the region and time.
      d) also, the most frequently used names in a region would need clarification. one of the most popular names would need distinctive identifiers attached to it in order to avoid confusion. for example, a top 10 name should have clarifying identifiers while a name lower than the top 100 would not.
      again, this is information to which we only NOW have access. certainly an ancient writer some time after the fact and outside the region fabricating that information would not be able to match up the names and identifiers.
      SUM: what we should find then, is that the top used names of the region and decade should have clarifying identifiers when used, whereas those lower on the charts would not need them.

      what do we find? in virtually EVERY instance (not just most, but ALL), the Bible's accounts match the available statistical data. names like Judas (which were popular that decade, but not a decade later) have clarifying identifiers, while names like Bartholomew do not. over & over again, the name usage matches the region and decade, while just a couple of hundred miles away or a decade later, the name charts change. only someone with firsthand knowledge could get that right.

      this definitively places the accounts at the time and in the region which they themselves CLAIM – a fact which previously had been contested. now, separate, statistical data is affirming the historical reality: they had to have direct knowledge of the region at the time of Jesus.

      for someone attempting to make that up later... that is not just an anomaly. it's a statistical impossibility. and only now, 2000 years later, do we have the technological resources to test that – and the data confirms the claims of the accounts.

      April 2, 2013 at 10:04 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Russ

      So there are qualifiers of people of which we can't actually confirm outside of the single source you want to use, and the asserting that it is statistically impossible without any kind of peer reviewed article attached to it, or independent verification. Congrats, you have continued to not provide anything of substance.

      April 2, 2013 at 10:12 pm |
    • Russ

      @ hawaiiguest: no, exactly wrong.
      the statistical data is compiled from sources external to the bible. the name usage charts are built off ALL the known sources for the era. again, this is definitive EXTERNAL, corroborating proof that they had direct access to the region at the time.

      seriously, watch the first 10 minutes. it will at least help you make accurate criticisms.

      April 2, 2013 at 10:14 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Russ

      Fine. Post the actual link, there's an issue with the embedded version and I won't be able to see it.

      April 2, 2013 at 10:15 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Russ

      But I swear if it's just another bunch of assertions and idiocy you will never hear the end of it.

      April 2, 2013 at 10:17 pm |
    • Russ

      @ hawaiiguest: sorry. i didn't realize the embedded version would cause a problem.
      here's the direct link from youtube...

      April 2, 2013 at 10:21 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Russ

      That's another embed.

      April 2, 2013 at 10:26 pm |
    • Russ

      @ hawaiiguest: ok, i misunderstood.
      can you watch youtube videos at all? if I post a link with the youtube video posted on another page, could you watch it – or do you need a non-youtube video?

      April 2, 2013 at 10:30 pm |
    • Agnes of Dog

      What I got from that video was that whoever wrote the gospels had to have know how to use the correct type of names for the place and time (that match references from related "historians" and as much as possible archaeological dating). And to use the names in a way that one would (depending on who is speaking and trying to identify whom) that would make sense. Although an interesting use of statistics, I really don't see how it necessarily "locks in the freshness" so to speak. He has some of his audience laughing over names from other areas (used in alternate gospels) that would not make sense for alternate gospels, but that is not the only challenge against the Xtian gospels, right? Regardless, I'm sure there are many other possibilities that still keep the source story with its "names that make sense" in a reasonable range that would still satisfy these "statistics".

      April 2, 2013 at 10:32 pm |
    • Agnes of Dog

      ( . . had to have known )

      April 2, 2013 at 10:34 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Agnes: it sounds like you watched the first 20 minutes or so. finish it out. he goes further in the analysis of the data.
      and if you really want to directly access the scholarship (without the humorous additions for the purpose of speaking), read Richard Bauckham's "Jesus & the Eyewitnesses" in which he presents this statistical data outright.

      April 2, 2013 at 10:36 pm |
    • Agnes of Dog

      Clarification several lines down – . . that would not make sense for the Xtian gospel setting . .

      April 2, 2013 at 10:37 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      I need the actual youtube address, not an embed link.

      April 2, 2013 at 10:42 pm |
    • Agnes of Dog

      Most of the video (and I watched the last part) seems to be arguing against certain apocryphal writings using statistics, as I said, to show why names, places etc. used in the canonical gospels make sense unto themselves (and that would jive with Josephus, etc.). So, again, while it may present a convincing case that the canonical gospels had to be written in that area in that near that time – beyond that – there is still a lot of unknowns – especially regarding the magic shows.

      April 2, 2013 at 11:04 pm |
    • Agnes of Dog

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=r5Ylt1pBMm8

      April 2, 2013 at 11:06 pm |
    • Russ

      @ hawaiiguest: i gave the direct link before & it automatically embedded it.
      i'll give the direct link w/ spaces all in between. you'll just need to erase them & paste it into your browser:

      h t t p : / / w w w . y o u t u b e . c o m / w a t c h ? v = r 5 Y l t 1 p B M m 8

      April 2, 2013 at 11:07 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Agnes: as I said to hawaiiguest above, the argument here was not over whether or not you will concede the possibility of the miraculous – but rather: are these necessarily eyewitness accounts?

      it has been repeatedly advanced (as the video states) by some in the field that these accounts were much later. this statistical data makes that claim impossible.

      once they are recognized historically for what they are (eyewitness accounts), then the debate can begin in earnest over the miraculous reportage. but previously, many folks simply cast it aside as legendary accretions. that is no longer a legitimate possibility – *by the data itself.*

      and that's the point. let's talk about the reportage. because that is what it has to be. CS Lewis' famous critique here holds:

      "I have been reading poems, romances, vision-literature, legends, myths all my life. I know what they are like. I know that not one of them is like this. Of this text there are only two possible views. Either this is reportage – though it may no doubt contain errors – pretty close up to the facts; nearly as close as Boswell. Or else, some unknown writer in the second century, without known predecessors, or successors, suddenly anticipated the whole technique of modern, novelistic, realistic narrative. If it is untrue, it must be narrative of that kind. The reader who doesn't see this has simply not learned to read."

      either these are firsthand reports... or they are firsthand lies.

      April 2, 2013 at 11:14 pm |
    • Agnes of Dog

      OK Russ – I see how you took out that embed part for the video, so for hawaii's convenience that them becomes:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r5Ylt1pBMm8

      (I just put some bold on/off tags between the t and p in http and two of the w's in www to keep WP from substituting the actual video instead of the text:

      htt<b></b>p://ww<b></b>w.youtube.com/watch?v=r5Ylt1pBMm8

      April 2, 2013 at 11:30 pm |
    • Standing in for Fallacy Spotter

      Root post is an example of Circular Logic.

      April 2, 2013 at 11:49 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Russ

      5 minutes was all I needed. That video is bunk. This guy is, in essence, asserting that at that time no one knew anything about places they didn't live, therefore if anything they said about Israel is accurate then they were there and eyewitnesses to everything and the gospels are correct and magic happened, which is completely moronic and without evidentiary support.
      I feel angry that 5 minutes of my life was wasted on this moron.

      April 3, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
    • Russ

      @ hawaiiguest: again, you're wrong. that's not what he argued. if you'd actually give a hearing, you'd understand why the entire field of biblical scholarship (from left to right) is giving heed to this argument. just because you won't give it time to understand it doesn't mean that scholars will equally (and falsely) jump to such conclusions.

      if you'd actually listened: the point was NOT that "no one can know anything about a place they haven't lived". no, the point was: the minute level of detail which the Gospel accounts hold could not be known by someone without firsthand knowledge.

      your quick (and false) summation shows you didn't even hear it. at least those liberal scholars who disagree with this conclusion are giving the statistical data a hearing and recognize it for what it is: a serious archeologically and statistically based argument that cannot be shelved in "5 minutes." to do so is to fail to hear the substance of what's being said.

      April 4, 2013 at 9:34 pm |
  2. 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?

    April 1, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
  3. shel74nf

    "Christians stood out because they created a “miniature welfare state" to help the less fortunate"

    Don't tell this to the republicans, they'll be labeled Satanic liberals.

    April 1, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
  4. binian

    I'm not a Christian but I found the story of early Christians helping their neighbors, giving women the dignity they deserve inspiring. Martyrdom isn't inspiring. Supposedly divine resurrections doesn't do much for me either. But, the acts of selfless people helping their fellow men and women, not that I admire.

    April 1, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
    • ME II

      Exactly!
      I'm curious why more(?) Christians don't appear more pleased with this article for that very reason?

      April 1, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
    • Lisa

      Women were finding some equality in the Christian communities until Paul's opinions started taking over. Then it was back to "Keep your mouths shut, and your opinions to yourself!", something still around in some of the more conservative churches.

      April 1, 2013 at 12:21 pm |
    • TANK!!!!

      "giving women the dignity they deserve "

      Had to smile at that one.

      April 1, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
  5. Chad

    Happy Atheist Day!!

    (couldn't resist..)

    April 1, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
    • Can't resist

      Having a party this evening to celebrate the day!!

      April 1, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
    • ME II

      "...anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell." (Mt 5:22)

      (couldn't resist)

      April 1, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
    • Happy for these atheists

      I am happy for 'em, one day a year to celebrate!

      April 1, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
    • JMEF

      Chad
      Well I guess you will have to take the whole day off from whining about ad hominem attacks since you started off with one against a group of people.

      April 1, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
    • Hear This

      Looking back only as far as the 1700s, Easter Sunday has fallen on April 1st in the following years: 1714, 1725, 1736, 1804, 1866, 1877, 1888, 1923, 1934, 1945 and 1956. Easter Sunday is due to fall on this date again in the year 2018.

      Palm Sunday has been on April 1 in 1793, 1708, 1787, 1792, 1798, 1849, 1855, 1860, 1917, 1928, 2007, 2012.

      Good Friday has previously fallen on April 1 in the years 1763, 1768, 1774, 1825, 1831, 1836, 1904, 1983, 1988 and 1994 and will again in 2067.

      April 1, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      That's where you're wrong. Atheists can celebrate life every day. No sky daddy to thank.

      April 1, 2013 at 12:12 pm |
    • JMEF

      Chad
      I know, I know, I am using ad hominem in the wrong context but I couldn't resist.

      April 1, 2013 at 12:19 pm |
    • Rachel fake

      Oh isn't Chad so clever calling April fools day, happy atheist day, HE is me as a hero, even if HE did not post till afternoon!!!

      April 1, 2013 at 12:24 pm |
    • Jimmy

      Well, if April 1 is a celebration of human gullibility then, indeed, we atheists have cause for celebration. All the rest of you who fall for pranks today, however, are the reason why we celebrate! ;-)

      April 1, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
    • Gotcha

      This is the day for all of us to leave some neatly folded clothes and some shoes with a bit of dry ice in them next to our cars or in front of our houses!

      (*the 'faithful' will think that they have missed out on the 'Rapture'!)

      April 1, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
    • Jimmy

      I doubt that this is real, but it's still funny! :-)

      April 1, 2013 at 8:19 pm |
  6. Rob

    What kind of ridiculous article is this? ANYBODY that studies history knows it's the christians that have persecuted everybody else over the years. What goes around, comes around!

    April 1, 2013 at 11:59 am |
    • { ! }

      History? Somehow you missed the 20th century. That's when humanity applied two hundred years of scientic discovery to bring himself to the edge of suicide. Secular scientists and governments did this without the help of any religion.

      April 1, 2013 at 12:13 pm |
    • Jimmy

      { ! }
      If you're alluding to atomic weapons science may have developed them, but pretty much everyone who had a say in deciding to actually use them were Christians, weren't they?

      April 1, 2013 at 12:29 pm |
    • TANK!!!!

      Care to take it up with Professor Moss?

      April 1, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
  7. Stacy

    A persecuted religion or not, as a born again Christian I am delighted to see 4700 posts on the discussion. Although I see CNN as one of the persecutors, there is a virtue in these discussions as they present a regular forum on belief, or lack, thereof. At least folks are talking about Christianity. Of course, I now expect persecution from one of the more militant on this blog. However, I was was one for quite some time–well, more like an agnostic–so I can testify that they ain't all Christian haters. There are some so-called Christians out there who really do damage to the brand.

    April 1, 2013 at 11:57 am |
    • Akira

      Please illustrate for me how, exactly, CNN is persecuting anyone. Thanks.

      April 1, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
    • sam stone

      How is CNN a persecutor?

      April 1, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
    • Stacy

      Please...perhaps you do not frequent CNN's website. They are as skewed to the left on Christianity as FOX is to the right. It's quite obvious.

      April 1, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Oh, this is just laughable. If you think you're being "persecuted" by CNN, you're in sore need of an education.

      April 1, 2013 at 12:12 pm |
    • Akira

      How is left-leaning persectution?
      Fox persecutes just an smuch, using your odd definition.
      Fox hates liberal-leaning people, so may I now claim that Fox persecutes me?

      April 1, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
    • Jimmy

      Do you consider any level of criticism to be "persecution"? If so, there have been a few articles here about atheists that would be classified as such. Can it really be "persecution" if CNN treats everyone the same?

      April 1, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
    • Stacy

      Identify FOX as your persecuter? If you like. So, you guys don't see the skew to the left or right in reporting from almost every news agency? The political agenda fix is in. Think for yourself fellas. I'm losing faith here...am I talking to adults?

      April 1, 2013 at 12:35 pm |
    • Stacy

      Sorry about that one guys. Tooo easy to say junk from behind the cyber curtain. You're right Jimmy. I am over-generalizing a bit. I should set a higher threshold for "persecution".

      April 1, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
    • TANK!!!!

      What does the political left and right have to do with christianity?

      April 1, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
  8. the AnViL™

    the only thing anyone needs to do to persecute xianity – is tell the truth about xianity.

    nothing upsets xians more than honesty.

    April 1, 2013 at 11:51 am |
    • Atheist, me?

      The truth is that you just dont know anything about Atheism!

      April 1, 2013 at 11:59 am |
    • Jimmy

      When Jesus and the apostles first went out and preached this stuff they got the same honest criticism. What did they do? They could have redoubled their efforts into making a more compelling argument, but they said their critics were under the influence of evil forces instead. In other words, that's all they've got, so all's left is to demonize your critics. It didn't convince everyone back then, and it doesn't convince everyone these days either.

      April 1, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
  9. IRA EBSTEIN

    ABANDONED FOR 2000 YEARS.
    Clinging to some false sense of misdirected faith that there is a God who actually cares about you. What conceit and self righteousness to think for a moment that any of you are someone who is being looked after or has the ability to move on to an after life with this conjoured up image of some humanoid that will ascene you to some kind of "Happy Land" when you are more likely dead forever and dried up turning into bug invested happy meals or just plan old dust if your sealed or cremated..
    If you are fortunate enough to move on to another plain, it most certaintly will not be with the God that you have been imaging. The chances that your spirit for want of a better word will live on, is more likely going to be your the form of energy either in another dimension or with another life form from a distant planet who by most accounts from so many writings and drawings all across our earth has a higher probablity than some guy named jesus or his never caring ignorant father or a holly ghost (remember when that was the real name). Read the oldest writings we have from the middle east and open your mind to what they actual describe about our beginnings and who or what directed our early days on this earth. It certaintly does not look like anything like your God character and read carefully about all of the references to how communications where carried out in the bible between man and this god character. All of these encouters sound more like a Speilberg film than a visit from some god form.
    Stop living your lives for the sake of redemption through good will and reward for your actions and start living your lives with "respect for all that has been put before you". One common rule and you can throw out that 2000 year old book of fairy tales and lies and fearful stories. Oh, by the way, the time after jesus or christ whatever you want to call this preacher that did good for the barbarians who lived 2000 years ago and then abandoned them and left them with what was supposed to be a time of enlightenment and spritual awaking but turned out to be almost as bloodinga time period as the old testament. Where in hell was you God dam Jesus or God during all of these persecutions and more appropriately, where in the hell is he now? One last thought, religion has been and will always be a business for those who are weak and need a path to their ever lasting salvation. Good luck with that one.

    April 1, 2013 at 11:51 am |
    • Dave in Houston

      Luck has nothing at all to do with it. But, we *will* continue to place our Trust in the everlasting God, through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. Sorry your heart seems so full of venom and hatred. May Jesus reveal Himself to you and heal your darkened soul. God bless you with peace and the sure knowledge of Him. Grace to you. Maranatha.

      April 1, 2013 at 11:55 am |
    • gofalcons

      eat a dick

      April 1, 2013 at 11:59 am |
    • Jason

      For your sake, I hope you're right and I'm wrong. If you're right, you will have been able to live your own life the way you want, and, I have missed out on a life seeking self serving satisfaction over others. If I'm right and you're wrong, you will have missed out on eternity. Hmmmm. Using logic alone, what would the Risk / Reward profile look like?

      April 1, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
    • Stacy

      Stop living your lives for the sake of redemption through good will and reward for your actions and start living your lives with "respect for all that has been put before you

      Wow, living a life worthy of redemption through acts of good will and actions. ..now that's a danger to society there. It must be put to an end.

      April 1, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
    • Dave in Houston

      @gofalcons – His peace and blessings to you as well. May the Holy Spirit reveal Jesus to you so that your spirit may be reborn and that you may gain abundant life – here and forever afterwards. Maranatha!

      April 1, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
    • sam stone

      jason: false choice. there can be more than those two choices

      April 1, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      Jason, Pascal's Wager was discounted as soon as he made it.

      April 1, 2013 at 12:07 pm |
    • Faith

      @IRA, you are talking about your body that will decay in the ground. But your soul will live forever to which you chose, forever peace in heaven or forever tribulation in hell.

      April 1, 2013 at 12:07 pm |
    • Atheist, me?

      At 249196000 which country has more Tom? And no I am not talking about growth rate!

      April 1, 2013 at 12:21 pm |
    • Atheist, me?

      Vaisgreen
      Thats like saying Hitler couldn't necessarily have tolerated the Jews since they liked to claim exclusive parentage to Abraham.
      Pagans do not care which god you worship but the Cult of the Emperor made the Romans care. The Jews were tolerated (as was the Jewish Xtians) however when the sect began to gain gentile converts it came to a head as the emperor felt these were grounds for disloyalty. Did it make the Emperors right? Then Hitler could claim legal precedence!

      April 1, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
    • Vic

      http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/03/25/who-is-on-gods-side-of-the-marriage-debate/comment-page-24/#comment-2246988

      April 1, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Nii, if you were any dumber, we'd have to water you. You can't even manage the reply button and then you post a number without any source. THEN, you proceed to yammer your fool noggin off asking me which country has more Christians, when I never said you weren't correct. What I DID was to ask you where you got your information and to cite it. You didn't even manage to do that. Instead, you barf up some belligerent comeback. What are you, 12?

      April 1, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
    • TANK!!!!

      @ Jason Using logic alone, I say you have constructed a false dilemma. Stop pretending that your perspective is the only perspective of god out there. Go and read Pascal's argument again, and reformulate your shabby restatement of it.

      April 1, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
    • Bad Boys

      Jason,

      Allah, Zeus, Ra, Vishnu
      Whatcha' gonna do when they come for you...?

      April 1, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
    • IRA EBSTEIN

      DAVE IN HOUSTON.
      My soul is just fine and please don't confuse hatred with dissapointment in a God that never returned to save the innocent.
      JASON.
      Did you miss my simple rule which used the word "RESPECT". I hope you are right about the after life and I am wrong.
      STACY.
      You missed the point. You are living a good life for a reward in the after life. I on the other hand, just living a good life.
      FAITH.
      Your soul will live forever...really? Prove it. Oh no that's right. You have to faith.

      April 1, 2013 at 7:44 pm |
    • Atheist, me?

      Roy
      there are 1st century cartoons of Christ hanging on a cross! Not everything you read in Awake and Watchtower are true.
      Another is the doctrine of Trinity. Isaiah and Moses were to blame more than Tertullian, get it?
      Every religion has deficiencies including yours.
      If you love your neighbor as yourself you will know the full truth.

      April 5, 2013 at 2:14 am |
  10. kevin

    Its amazing how unbelievers are always trying to win people to their side! I guess all religions seek adherents.

    April 1, 2013 at 11:47 am |
    • .

      Good point, these are not just atheists that are posting here. Other minorities that can't assimilate are extremely militant when it comes to Christian belief.

      April 1, 2013 at 11:54 am |
    • The real Tom

      Yeah, I really need more folks to sing the atheist hymns in my non-church! And it's important to have asses in the non-existent pews of my non-church, too–otherwise, how will I not pay the non-existent minister?

      April 1, 2013 at 11:59 am |
    • Which God?

      Kevin, they need new adherents so thier religion doesn'y die outThey would hate being the last of a cult that uses myth as a belief syste for their salvation, whatever that is.

      April 1, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
    • Akira

      Care to expand on who those minorities who can't assimilate are, dot?

      April 1, 2013 at 12:07 pm |
    • .

      You know which militant group you belong to.

      April 1, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      ooh dotty so enigmatic

      April 1, 2013 at 12:40 pm |
  11. rick llonger

    more continuing attacks by CNN and the media to discredit anything to do with Christianity.
    These are trully the last days. Fear God.

    April 1, 2013 at 11:46 am |
    • midwest rail

      Men have been predicting the end of days since roughly 40 A.D. They were all wrong. So are you.

      April 1, 2013 at 11:47 am |
    • SDFrankie

      God scares the heck out of me. He's worse than the boogey man. He's worse than Jaws. He's worse than the wolfman and Jaws rolled into one. You better get busy worshiping him or you're gonna fry.

      April 1, 2013 at 11:53 am |
    • Pete

      "These are trully the last days. Fear God."

      Christians have been claiming this for centuries and it's still untrue because your god doesn't exist.

      April 1, 2013 at 11:55 am |
    • Dave in Houston

      Rick, yes, I believe you are right. And, as Peter wrote:

      Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking. I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles.

      First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires.
      They will say, "Where is this 'coming' he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation."

      But they deliberately forget that long ago by God's word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.

      But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

      But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.

      Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives
      as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.

      But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.

      2 Peter 3:1-13

      Shalom and Maranatha!

      April 1, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
    • Which God?

      @ Dave in Houston. You mean Shazam and Marinara, right? Shazam, make mine a meatblla parm and marinar
      sandwich.

      April 1, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
  12. creative36

    Christians need to be pushed to the fringes of society where they belong.

    April 1, 2013 at 11:44 am |
    • Russ

      How did that plan work for Mao?

      April 1, 2013 at 11:58 am |
    • In Santa we trust

      Russ, Pretty well actually. Seen how well China is doing?

      April 1, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Santa: check the stats. There were less than 10 million Christians in China in 1949. Now there are 100s of millions.
      If the goal was to marginalize & end Christianity in China, Mao's plan absolutely backfired.

      April 1, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      I meant the Chinese economy. Christians are only about 5% so I couldn't really see your point

      April 1, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
  13. creative36

    Christians...

    April 1, 2013 at 11:44 am |
  14. musings

    I don't care about the numbers of Christians persecuted. The fact is that the wanton cruelty of the arena, the official sadism if you will, and the excitation of blood-lust, was considerably diminished after Christianity proclaimed the inherent dignity of each human being. That much is manifestly true.

    Whether, over the ages, Christians abided by their faith is another thing. But in ending slavery, wherever it is ended, there is always this Judeo-Christian belief behind it, forged in the era of Roman persecution when the stream of Jewish rabbinical tradition in the form of a Christian sect intertwined with Greek humanism. To my knowledge neither Jews nor Greeks played on crude bloodlust among their population. It was considered beneath them.

    April 1, 2013 at 11:41 am |
  15. Truth.

    World wide.

    April 1, 2013 at 11:41 am |
    • Pete

      Truth World wide the Christianity is a myth.

      April 1, 2013 at 11:56 am |
  16. mk

    Speaking of persecution...I saw a scene of the Bible Miniseries with botox-injected Roma Downey as Mary, Jesus' mother. The scene was of a model-beautiful, white-man Jesus laying on the ground with his huge cross, dirt and blood pouring down his face. His "mother" reaches out to him and he smiles with his peroxide-white teeth and tells her not to cry and that "with god all things are possible". Then miraculously, he raises the 2-ton cross and begins walking again. As an ex-christian, I now see that the scene is meant to evoke feelings of guilt and sorrow in Christians for being such horrible sinners and keep them coming back to church to repent. I think the storyline gets more and more overdone every time they re-do it. It's pathetic, especially considering experts think the actual story (if it did happen) was not nearly so violent.

    Besides, I'm betting the Christians persecuted more people throughout history for not believing what they did than were persecuted.

    April 1, 2013 at 11:39 am |
    • Atheist, me?

      You do realise that thr fact that you are an ex Christian does not make you an expert in Christian psychology, do you?

      April 1, 2013 at 11:44 am |
    • mk

      Can you point out to me where I said I was an expert? Thanks.

      April 1, 2013 at 11:56 am |
    • The real Tom

      mk, you will have to ignore Nii's posts. He failed reading comprehension in first grade last year.

      April 1, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
    • mk

      Thanks, Tom. I also think that he/she missed the point of the post: these types of stories get embellished every time they are told. The premise of portraying characters having teeth whiter than the Osmonds seems ridiculous to me, but I'm not an expert.

      April 1, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
  17. palintwit

    We arrive in rusty 1964 motorhomes.
    We bring our bibles and loaded assault weapons.
    We wear ridiculous clothing and have teabags dangling from our earlobes.
    We carry misspelled racist signs as we stomp all over the White house lawn.
    We eat Chick-fil-A and wash it down with Everclear.
    We are Sarah Palin's real Americans.
    We love the baby jesus but we love to boink our cousins even more.
    We believe that the earth is only 6,000 years old and that early man walked with the dinosaurs.
    We believe that nascar is a real sport and that Dale Earnhardt was a great American athlete.
    We are the birthers. We are tea party patriots. We are evangelicals.
    We are bigots and inbreds. We are morons and we are proud.

    April 1, 2013 at 11:37 am |
    • Atheist, me?

      America has the most Christians in the world so I thought you will know more about them. Oh well two sides, same coin!

      April 1, 2013 at 11:47 am |
    • The real Tom

      Nii, how do you come to the conclusion that there are more christians in the US than anywhere else? I suggest you post your source.

      April 1, 2013 at 11:49 am |
    • Dave in Houston

      Not sure who the bigot is here. What hateful words to classify billions of people. I am sorry your heart is so infected by hatred. I am praying that the Lord may grant you peace and open your eyes to the real truth. God bless you. Maranatha.

      April 1, 2013 at 11:51 am |
    • Pete

      "America has the most Christians in the world so I thought you will know more about them. Oh well two sides, same coin!"

      It's been decreasing which is why they are going into third world countries to preach their lies.

      April 1, 2013 at 11:58 am |
    • Atheist, me?

      Tom
      How did you also come by the info that there is a country with more Xtians than the US. Please name that country.

      April 1, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Nii, would you please learn how to read? I didn't make a claim either way. You did. Present your evidence.

      April 1, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
  18. Tom

    So the whole article was basically just a paper-thin non-news story designed to allow another couple of shots at Romney and Santorum? It's bad when the National Enquirer could teach CNN about honest reporting.

    April 1, 2013 at 11:35 am |
    • sam stone

      Where were Romney or Santorum mentioned?

      April 1, 2013 at 11:40 am |
    • In Santa we trust

      Tom. What evidence do you have that Obama is waging a war on religion? (The reason Romney and Santorum were mentioned). There is none, so it is a valid example of christians imagining persecution in the USA

      April 1, 2013 at 11:42 am |
    • palintwit

      Rick Santorum... the frothy one.

      April 1, 2013 at 11:42 am |
    • Jesus freaker

      "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."

      Valid points for her argument.

      April 1, 2013 at 11:45 am |
    • Akira

      Sam,
      This one small paragraph:
      "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."

      April 1, 2013 at 11:53 am |
    • sam stone

      Akira: Thanks

      April 1, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
    • FormerChristian

      >Definitions:
      >
      >1. to harass 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

      Imagine two politicians running for office. One religious and one non-religious. Which one will be persecuted over there religious beliefs more?

      And I suppose you have never seen religious people persistently annoy non-religious people.

      If Christians can tell people that a non-belief in magic leads to fire punishment, then in fairness, non-religious people may also tell the rational truth... that magic, supernatural things do not exist, and when biological lifeforms die, they do not wake back up in some magical place.

      April 1, 2013 at 12:21 pm |
  19. anon

    She may or may not be right. I don't know, and probably need to look further into it and do the research for myself. However, I find it hard to take ANYONE serious who's parents named her after yeast overgrowth and lichen.

    April 1, 2013 at 11:35 am |
    • anon

      Correction: I typed before I researched. She was actually named after yeast FUNGUS and a plant; Again, I need to do more research, but in order to take a article seriously, you need to address the source first This woman, as educated as she MAY be, (having a degree, and knowing how to use it are two different things) spent her earliest, most developmentally crucial years under the direction of at least one parent who thought NOTHING of saddling their kid with this name. One or both probably just heard the word Candida, and without looking any further into it, decided it sounded pretty and used their feel good vibes to name their daughter with this name. Maybe having these types of parents didn't affect her upbringing and thinking processes one bit, but I doubt it.

      Besides, I have serious doubts that after all these centuries later, with all the scholars, and books and research done on this same topic, that SHE and SHE alone has finally pulled out the truth and is the only one willing to say it?

      Regardless of how you or I or anyone else FEELS about religion, believing her is simply not a rational thing to do.

      April 1, 2013 at 11:44 am |
    • In Santa we trust

      Moss is quite a common last name; like you she had no choice. And anyway ymous is pretty similar.

      April 1, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
  20. Truth.

    Modern Christian persecution exists – that is a fact.

    April 1, 2013 at 11:34 am |
    • midwest rail

      In other parts of the world, yes. In America ? No.

      April 1, 2013 at 11:35 am |
    • Truth.

      World wide.

      And America is not immune – it does exist.

      April 1, 2013 at 11:44 am |
    • midwest rail

      Nonsense.

      April 1, 2013 at 11:46 am |
    • The real Tom

      How are Christians persecuted in the US, Lies?

      April 1, 2013 at 11:48 am |
    • Truth.

      We all have it very good here.

      This is probably the best country to be a Christian.

      This is probably the best country to be an atheist.

      But to declare that no American is being persecuted because of their belief in Jesus Christ is probably not honest.

      I'm not declaring I'm being persecuted, but I know there are some who are.

      April 1, 2013 at 11:57 am |
    • The real Tom

      Then stop lying about it or post exactly HOW christians are being persecuted here. Either that or retract your claim.

      April 1, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
    • Truth.

      Definitions:

      1. to harass 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 have been harassed and ridiculed by the poster "EndReligion".

      He has made threats, annoyed, pestered and used religious slurs against me me because of my belief in Jesus Christ.

      By definition I have been persecuted by this poster. And he says he won't stop until I *believe* what he believes.

      This happened here, in America.

      April 1, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
    • Truth.

      Synonyms: agonize, anguish, bedevil, beset, besiege, curse, excruciate, harrow, afflict, plague, rack, torment, torture

      Pretty much what we do to each other on this board (atheists are persecuted on their beliefs, too!)

      April 1, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
    • The real Tom

      And you're trapped here? Imprisoned? Forced to read ER's posts?

      You're an idiot.

      April 1, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Really, Lies, you should write an article about how your persecution compares to that of the early christians. Ahahahaha. What a dweeb.

      April 1, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
    • Truth.

      No. It is a very poor example – but there are people like him that hate followers of Jesus Christ.

      Or, hate people that don't believe like they do. Kind of like what they profess the Christians they hate are doing.

      April 1, 2013 at 12:12 pm |
    • Truth.

      I really don't face any persecution. There are trivial amounts of it going on here – and I pretty much invite that into my life.

      It doesn't really bother me. Most people aren't as rude and small minded as the anonymous posters on this message board.

      April 1, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
    • The real Tom

      No, LIES, you are not presenting anything even approaching truth. You're not being persecuted by anyone and you are demeaning the plights of people who ARE being persecuted by whining because you don't like what people say to you. Knock it off.

      People who are being persecuted would gladly leave the venue of their persecution if they could. You CHOOSE to stay here and you give just what you get. If you don't like it, then leave.

      April 1, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
    • Truth.

      So, you think our society is so good that nobody could possibly face any kind of persecution.

      At all.

      I'm not saying I am. Or that it is common.

      I just think it is likely that even 1 person is being persecuted because of their belief in Jesus Christ.

      And I don't even think that is a bad thing, to be persecuted.

      Jesus Christ says we should be expected to be persecuted. The world hates his message of love.

      April 1, 2013 at 12:22 pm |
    • Truth.

      "God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers."

      Matthew 5:11

      April 1, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
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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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.