666 Christian Crimes

350 - 399


Constantius ordered the closing of all pagan temples. This led to the destruction of many temples in the eastern empire. [McCabe, 1939, 79]


A law added wives, children, and servants of clergy to the clergy's tax exemption. [Valantasis, 267]


Christian bishops were exempted from ever being tried in secular courts. [Ellerbe, 27]


"Those who claimed to be the genuine followers of Christ denounced the Arian Emperor and bishops as spawn of the devil and fought their adherents with fire and sword." [McCabe, 1939, 79]


Emperor Constantius II renewed the death sentence for practicing pagan religions. [McCabe, 1939, 75, 79]


If a Christian converted to Judaism his property was to be confiscated. [Valantasis, 273]


Damasus, a deacon under Pope Liberius, took an oath not to recognize another pope while Liberius was alive. After the emperor exiled Liberius, Damasus broke his oath and served Anti-pope Felix II.

After Liberius died, his supporters elected Ursinus pope. That election was violently overturned by supporters of Damasus. After winning the struggle to succeed Liberius, Damasus became an ardent advocate of papal supremacy. [McBrien, 62-64]

The CE ("Pope St. Damasus I") alleges that it was the supporters of Ursinus who initiated the violence.

"The emperor Valentinian I intervened in support of Damasus and banished Ursinus for a time to Cologne...." [Cross, 370]

"The high level of violence in this period has been largely ignored by historians, but a close reading of the sources shows that almost every vacant bishopric gave rise to murder and intimidation as rival candidates fought for the position." [Freeman, 2009, 67]


A law ordered the confiscation of Manichaean meeting places and punishment for Manichaean teachers. [Engh, 93]


[St.] Ambrose was appointed bishop of Milan (Mediolanum) before he was baptized. [Freeman, 2009, 67]


A law exempted clergy from public service. [Valantasis, 267. See also 313 & 319.]


Bishop of Rome [St.] Damasus I held a synod which ruled that "the Bishop of Rome should not be compelled to appear in court...." [Johnson, 1976, 99]


[St.] Ambrose persuaded Roman Emperor Gratian to outlaw Arianism in the west. [Delaney, 33]


Roman emperor Theodosius I ("The Great"),

[Bokenkotter, 62; Engh, 97; Grant, 272-273; Jenkins, 122-123; Wikipedia, "Timeline of Christian Missions"; www.stopthereligiousright.org/theodosius.htm ]


Emperor Theodosius I,

Theodosius' edicts "confirmed the emperor as the definer and enforcer of orthodoxy." [Freeman, 2005, 194]


Nectarius was appointed bishop of Constantinople before he had been baptized. [Freeman, 2009, 311]


At the urging of [St.] Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, Emperor Theodosius I ordered the pagan statue removed from the Roman Senate, "the revenues of the pagan temples be confiscated to the State, and the privileges of the priests be annulled." [McCabe, 1939, 81]


Theodosius made membership in some Manichaean sects a capital crime, and made it illegal to support Manichaean monks. He also used a system of informers to police the pagans. [Freeman, 2009, 104; www.stopthereligiousright.org/theodosius.htm ; Engh, 93-94; Jenkins, 123]


Emperor Theodosius I decreed that Eunomians and other kinds of "heretical" congregations were forbidden to assemble or to build places of worship. Another decree six months later confiscated their property and expelled all Eunomian clergy. [Freeman, 2009, 140]


Theodosius I made divination from chicken entrails a capital crime. Other pagan practices were also outlawed, such as burning incense, torch bearing processions, wearing garlands, and offerings of wine. Household gods were outlawed. Magistrates' failure to enforce the law was also criminalized. [ www.jesusneverexisted.com ]


Theodosius I ordered his Prefect Cynegius, with the cooperation of local bishops and monks, to destroy the temples and shrines of the pagans in Greece and Asia Minor. [www.stopthereligiousright.org/theodosius.htm, citing Gibbon, v.3, ch. 28]


The first execution of a heretic by Christians occurred in Spain, when Bishop Priscillian of Avila was executed. The trial of Priscillian and other heretics set a new precedent. It was the first time a secular court had convicted Roman citizens on religious grounds. Priscillian was then denied a hearing by Bishop [St.] Ambrose at Milan and by Pope [St.] Damasus I at Rome. He appealed to Emperor Maximus at Trier and was sentenced to death. [McCabe, 1939, 86; Catholic Encyclopedia, "St. Ambrose" and "Inquisition"; Engh, 98]


Theodosius I prohibited public discussion of any religious topic. [Ellerbe, 28; Freeman, 2009, 120; Grant, 272-273; Valantasis, 269]


Bishop [St.] Ambrose of Milan "compelled" Theodosius I to allow a bishop, who had burned down a synagogue in Callinicum on the Euphrates, to remain unpunished. He wrote: "The maintenance of civil law is secondary to religious interest." His hold on Theodosius is likely the reason for the severity of the laws against pagans, including the destruction of their temples. [Grant, 273; Johnson, 1976, 104-105]

It was illegal for Jews to build new synagogues. They were not allowed to own Christian slaves. [Engh, 94]


A law forbade intermarriage between Christians and Jews. This crime was to be punished the same as adultery. [Valantasis, 273]


A law ordered that Apollonarians in particular and all other heretics be barred from all human contact. [Valantasis, 269]


Theodosius I sent a prefect to destroy the temples in Egypt and Syria. [www.stopthereligiousright.org/theodosius.htm]


Theodosius outlawed the use of non-Christian calendars and dating methods. [www.stopthereligiousright.org/theodosius.htm]


By this year Emperor Theodosius I had a system of religious persecution in place. [Jenkins, 122-123]


Thessalonika had a large Hippodrome for chariot races. The garrison of the city (composed of Goths) was commanded by one Butheric. Butheric imprisoned a popular charioteer for a sex crime. When the charioteer failed to appear at the next race, the crowd rioted and murdered Butheric and several other officers. After receiving the news, Theodosius ordered retribution. "... 7,000 may have died." [Freeman, 2009, 121-122; Bokenkotter, 63; Catholic Encyclopedia, "Theodosius I"; McCabe, 1939,77]


A law forbade women with short hair to enter a church. [Engh, 94; Valantasis, 267]


A law set minimum age limits for church offices and prohibited remarried women from any office. [Valantasis, 267-268]


Theophilus, Patriarch of Alexandria, closed a pagan temple in Alexandria and destroyed several other temples. The pagans rioted and some Christians were killed. Theophilus led a Christian mob, which destroyed the temple of Serapis. He later built a church on the ruins. The CE says that Theophilus was gifted intellectually but also was violent and unscrupulous. The Serapeum was said to be the largest place of worship in the world. It also was part of the famous Alexandrian library, which held 700,000 scrolls. [Catholic Encyclopedia, "Theophilus"; Johnson, 1976, 98; Ellerbe, 46; Pollard and Reid, 282, 298]


Theodosius closed all pagan temples and criminalized Pagan worship." [Grant, 273]


A law barred heretics from making a will or inheriting. [Valantasis, 270]


"... the law restricting monks to the deserts was repealed, allowing them to join the renewed destruction of pagan shrines." [Freeman, 2009, 124]


Private worship or any activity associated with pagan rites were criminalized. Local authorities had the right to search private homes for pagan objects, and punishment for violators could result in confiscation of their homes. Pagan gods officially became demons and pagans were called minions of Satan. Despite these harsh laws, some pagan rituals were adopted by Christians. This practice was deemed acceptable by [St.] Jerome when done for a Christian purpose. [Engh, 91; Freeman, 2009, 124; Valantasis, 272]


"The Olympic Games, held every four years in honour of Zeus, and by now well over a thousand years old, were celebrated for the last time in 393." [Freeman, 2009, 124]


Jewish marriage laws became invalid. [Valantasis, 273]


Pagan priests lost their privileges, their incomes went to the army and their property to the state. The authorities made little or no attempt to protect pagan institutions from militant Christians. [Johnson, 1976, 98; Valantasis, 270]


"There is another form of temptation, even more fraught with danger. This is the disease of curiosity ... It is this which drives us to try and discover the secrets of nature, these secrets which are beyond our understanding, which can avail us nothing, and which man should not wish to learn." [St. Augustine, quoted by Freeman, 2009, 169, citing Confessions, Book X, Ch.35]


The Fourth Council of Carthage forbade bishops to read the books of gentiles. [Ellerbe, 48]


"Manichaeans were expelled from Rome and threatened with exile from all Roman territory." [Engh, 94]




© R. Paul Buchman 2010-2011