In present times, especially in the United States, it is easy to fall into the feeling of “it has always been this way” but when diving into a deeper look regarding religion, one can see that things have changed drastically. A major change came in the third century with the rise of Christianity that shook up the world till the present. Before it acquired the popularity that we know it would be soon to gain, Christians were feared, and persecuted by the Romans for many years until Constantine slowly began to change that. He made it illegal to persecute Christians, but it is important to note that he did not make Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire because he knew of the harmful effects it could have on his rule. In the reading Boatwright, it is stated that, “While religion did play a part in the ensuing struggles for control, Constantine was well aware that he could not promote Christianity too openly” (Boatwright 453). He knew that I order for a successful rise of Christianity it had to be slowly implemented from the top down, but could not have been too much for the population to take in considering that almost all Romans were polytheistic.
Regardless, it was imminent that the rise of Christianity would spark up some fear in the people, and in my opinion, for good reason. Throughout our time as the dominant species on the planet, people have always been afraid and hesitant of change, especially an immense one like a new, overtaking religion. When the idea of new Gods of other polytheistic religions were introduced to the Romans it was much easier for them to accept these new Gods because of the fact that both factions believed in the idea of multiple Gods. Therefor it is extremely alarming to the people who have done it this way for centuries to now be introduced to an idea that there is only one God who is all powerful and basically everything they have ever known and believed in is now false. That would shock any society into actions that include persecuting those who are part of this crazy new religion.
Another reason that the Romans are justified for acting the way they did towards the uprising religion of Christianity was because of how prideful they were in their piety. Romans have always prided themselves on being faithful and practicing the proper religious practices under their well-known Gods. They felt as if the Gods would always bless the people of the Roman Empire because of the fact that they were so proper and prideful in their traditional polytheistic practices. Moreover, many people were extremely afraid of the fact that Christianity denounced all of their Gods they had been so faithful to. They believed that this was an ultimate act of sacrilege and out to be punished accordingly. Based on the fact that Christianity did not have a strong foothold to begin with, it is justified for the people of the Roman Empire to act the way they did because of the fact that Christianity was incredibly foreign idea that denounced everything they have ever known.