“Haters of humanity” was the charge leveled against Christians in early first-millennium Rome. Thus impugned because they didn’t want to participate in the empire’s pagan festivals, they suffered a plight common to those swimming against their civilization’s tide: persecution. Of course, even in a nation that appreciates freedom of speech and religion, stigmatization of certain groups is inevitable. For as someone once pointed out, stigmas are the corollaries of values: If certain things are to be valued, it follows that their opposites will be devalued. As an example, you cannot value economic freedom highly without devaluing communism. Ergo, stigmas are necessary. And since they’re the flip side of values, what a civilization chooses to value is of utmost importance.
So when Rome valued paganism, it quite naturally devalued Christianity. But this would change. Jesus’ faith was legalized in 313 A.D., and in 380 it would become the empire’s official religion. And it would so infuse and shape the West that the Occident would become known as Christendom and the United States’ first president would say, “To the distinguished character of Patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian.” For, in fact, Christian character was once considered integral to everything.
But a change has been afoot in America. It has been happening quickly, so quickly that few people, even most astute culture warriors, fully appreciate what’s occurring.
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