Religion in the Roman Empire was mostly ritualistic and folksy. Romans congregated at public gatherings where they would pay reverence to the Roman gods. Public rituals were a pervasive facet of Roman culture not only for the elite but the common folk as well – public life that included festivals and holidays (Stark 3). There was a loose social structure tied to religion and faith during the wide public acceptance of polytheism. Christianity like Judaism and paganism proffered a rewarding relationship with one’s community and spirituality. Due to the strong organization structure of these divergent religious groups, the Roman government feared that it would impede upon the uniformity of acceptance of government rule among the general public. The senate sought to dilute the efforts of these burgeoning, monotheistic religions by dispersing hearsay and actively persecuting members of these groups. The government feared that there was a conspiratorial element to Christianity.
The religion market was largely unregulated with minimal governmental subsidies, myriad different religious groups were able to compete – the “Roman Republic did not impose a system of state temples” (Stark 3). Religion was economical in this respect. In order to be viable, religions “were at the mercy of the marketplace, forced to be with one another for followers and financial support” – temples had to attract enough public support to remain economically viable through donations (Stark 4). Due to the highly competitive market, there was a considerable amount of “religious conflict and even outbursts of vicious persecution” (Stark 4). In the Roman Empire during the Middle Ages, “religious persecution was prompted by gov...
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...hristians not participating in such public forums meant they were less likely to be indoctrinated to the propaganda of Roman rule. As Christianity’s popularity grew, the rumors of inhumane acts began to die down – by the middle of the 4th century, “at least half of the population of the empire, and far higher proportions in the cities, were professing Christians” (Stark 25). Today, Christianity is one of the most popular religions in the world with approximately 2 billion Christians (Grigs 415). In the end, Christians prevailed against genocide, persecution, and attempted institutional marginalization from the Roman emperor and senate. Due to the strong social structure and the rewarding qualities of interacting with one’s faith-based community, Christians prevailed against the loosely structure and largely superstitious pseudo-faith of traditional Roman polytheism.
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