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Old 02 March 2013, 12:32 AM
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Avril Avril is offline
Join Date: 07 August 2002
Location: Princeton, NJ
Posts: 10,547

Originally Posted by pinqy View Post
Not sure how you're getting that. The way I see it, if there was a general rule against speaking ill of the Emprorer, and Christian X spoke against the Emperor as part of a Christian speech and non-Christian Y spoke against the Emperor as part of a political speech and both were executed for speaking ill, is it really fair to say that the Christian was executed for being a Christian?
It wasn't a free speech issue. Everyone was required to sacrifice to the genius of the emperor (that's where we get the phrase, "a pinch on the altar of Ceasar"). They let the Jews have an exemption from doing that, but they wouldn't allow that for the Christians (upstarts making inroads among the Romans themselves). This was an issue of relgious coercion. Christians were executed for not complying, not for saying stuff like "The Emperor sucks."

Martyrdom got out of hand among the Christians, of course; some Christians very actively sought execution. That's not to say that religious persecution wasn't real and didn't happen.
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