666 Christian Crimes

300 - 349

Fourth century

Emperor Constantine, the first Roman Emperor to become a Christian, had over 3000 Christians executed because their interpretation of the Bible did not agree with his. That is more than the number of Christians who died at the hands of the Romans during the well known 1st century "Christians to the lions" persecutions.[Manchester, 7-8]


Pope Marcellus I is not mentioned in Eusebius' History of the Church. Annuario Pontifico, the Vatican's official directory of the popes gives his dates in office as 308-309. The New American Bible gives them as 304-309. Upon becoming pope, Marcellus persecuted Christian backsliders so viciously that the Roman Emperor Maxentius banned him from the city to avoid public disorder. Marcellus was later made a saint. [Curran, 16-18, McBrien, 55]


Pope Eusebius, like his predecessor Marcellus, was involved in the dispute over the treatment of backsliders. Also like Marcellus, the dispute was so disruptive to civil order that he was deported by Emperor Maxentius. He was also made a saint. [McBrien, 55-56]


Church officials were given immunity from paying taxes and compulsory service, among other things. They also got the right to inherit property. Sunday was given state protection. [Catholic Encyclopedia, "Constantine the Great"; Letter of Constantine to Anulinus, in Bettenson, 17; Eusebius, E.C., 10.7. See also 319, 343, & 377.]


Constantine's edict criminalized proselytizing by Jews. [ http:// www.rapidnet.com/~jbeard/bdm/Cults/Catholicism/ch-state.htm ]


Appeals were allowed to be made to Christian courts, even if a suit had already begun in a civil court. The bishop's decision was legally binding. [Catholic Encyclopedia, "Constantine the Great." See also 333.]


Roman Emperor Constantine excused clergy from paying taxes and serving in the army. [Ellerbe, 27. See also 313, 343 & 377.]


A law stated that if any public building should be struck by lightning, then soothsayers shall be called to find out what it means.

Note that a law of 385 prohibited the use of soothsayers. "He who seeks to find the truth of the present of the future, contrary to what has been forbidden, shall be the subject of severe punishment." [Valantasis, 271]


Constantine, on state recognition of Sunday,


Constantine defeated Licinius in a battle over religious policy. Licinius' surrendered after Constantine promised not to kill him. Six months later Constantine had him murdered anyway. [Catholic Encyclopedia, "Constantine the Great"]


Helena, mother of Constantine, went to Jerusalem and found the "true cross" of Jesus. [Richardson, Chapter IV, "The Mythical Constantine," 6,7]


Near the end of the Council of Nicaea, Constantine slandered the Jews, called them Christ killers, and urged the members to have nothing to do with them. [Eusebius, L.C., Book III, Chapter XVIII]


A majority of bishops at Nicaea favored the Arian position. They were overruled by Emperor Constantine. In a letter to the churches, Constantine wrote that "any one who conceals a work of Arius shall be punished with death." State interference in church affairs resulted in politics causing the falsification of the Gospels' message. The church became more important than religion, to the detriment of Christianity. [De Rosa, 44; Richardson, Chapter III, "Writings," 23]


A law was passed banning pagan sacrifices. This was the first of many laws prohibiting various kinds of pagan and other sacrifices. Such laws were published in 353, 382, 385, and 392. [Valantasis, 271-72]


Constantine destroyed many pagan temples and looted them. He


Constantine denied "heretics and schismatics" the right of assembly in public or private, confiscated their property and gave it to the Catholic church. His edict specifically names "Novatians, Valentinians, Marcionites, Paulians, ye who are called Cataphrygians." Constantine also had their homes searched and confiscated any heretical books. [Eusebius, L.C., Book III, Chapter LXIV, LXV, & LXVI; "Edict against the heretics. In Eusebius, V.C., 3. 64-5." Cited by Richardson, Chapter III, "Writings," 32.]


In Egypt, Constantine prohibited sacrifices, mystic rites, combats of gladiators, and "the licentious worship of the Nile." [Eusebius, L.C., Book IV, Chapter XXV]


"(1) [Constantine] also passed a law to the effect that no Christian should remain in servitude to a Jewish master, on the ground that it could not be right that those whom the Saviour had ransomed should be subjected to the yoke of slavery by a people who had slain the prophets and the Lord himself. If any were found hereafter in these circumstances, the slave was to be set at liberty, and the master punished by a fine. (2) He likewise added the sanction of his authority to the decisions of bishops passed at their synods, and forbade the provincial governors to annul any of their decrees: for he rated the priests of God at a higher value than any judge whatever." [Eusebius, L.C., Book IV, Chapter XXVII]


After Constantine converted to Christianity he continued his brutal ways. He executed

Despite Constantine's bloody history, he was canonized by the Eastern Orthodox Church. St. Constantine's feast day is September 3 (celebrated by Orthodox Christians only).


In the eastern part of the empire, "orthodox" Christians killed large numbers of "heretical" Christians. The death toll of Vestal Virgins, Arians, Athanasians, Donatists, and Novatians killed by other Christians between 330 and 380 was many times more than had been killed by pagan persecution in two and half centuries. [McCabe, 1939, 55]


Constantine directed the suppression of idolatrous worship at Mamre. [Second Letter of Constantine to Macarius and the rest of the Bishops in Palestine (to Eusebius). In Euseb. V.C., 3. 52-53 (Op. Const. 539-544). Cited by Richardson, Chapter III, "Writings," 31]


Anyone who was a party to a secular judicial proceeding could ask for a transfer of the case from a civil to a Church court. "A law of 333 commanded the state officials to enforce the decisions of the bishops, a bishop's testimony should be considered sufficient by all judges and no witness was to be summoned after a bishop had testified." [Freeman, 2009, 146; Catholic Encyclopedia, "Constantine the Great." See also 318.]


Conversion to Judaism became illegal. The government could confiscate converts' property. [Engh, 94]


Sacrificing to the pagan gods became a capital crime. [McCabe, 1939, 79]


"Constantius II passed the first major anti-pagan law in 341 and [the] next year ordered that 'all superstitions must be completely eradicated.'" [Johnson, 1976, 97]


Constantine reaffirmed the clergy's exemption from taxes. [Valantasis, 267. See also 313 & 319.]


Christians pressured the imperial court to end toleration of paganism and to suppress it instead. [Johnson, 1976, 97]




© R. Paul Buchman 2010-2011