Saturday, October 9, 2010

Somebody Give Anderson Cooper a History Book

Anderson Cooper interviewed Renee Ellmers who is running against Rep. Bob Etheridge for the U.S. House seat in the second district of North Carolina. Ms. Ellmers ran a controversial ad about the Ground Zero Mosque and her opponent’s inability to take a stand on the subject. What was really appalling in this interview was Cooper equating Muslim conquest to that of Christians in the Roman Empire. He basically implied that a foreign Christian army invaded Rome and took over pagan temples and converted them into churches. Somebody needs to give Anderson Cooper a history book.

Constantine the Great is universally known as the first Christian Roman Emperor. He converted on the battlefield at Milvian Bridge in 312AD after seeing the sign of the Christian cross and adopting it as his symbol. He went on to defeat his brother-in-law Maxentius cementing his belief in the power of the Christian God.

Even though Constantine converted to Christianity he was prudent not to alienate the pagans who made up the majority of his subjects and particularly his army. During his reign he pushed Christianity carefully in ambivalent stages with the ultimate goal to reunify the empire:

Christian Bishops under Constantine functioned in an official capacity as Imperial advisors. Tax exemptions were granted to Christian priests and money was granted from the Imperial treasury to provide for new and rebuilt churches. At a meeting of Bishops in Milan (313 AD) an edict (of Milan) was passed which essentially granted complete tolerance to all religions, but Christianity would benefit the most. Previous victims of various persecutions were also granted compensation directly from the Roman treasury. Still, however, Constantine left a confusing trail for his personal religious thoughts. Association with Sol Invictus is still cited for several more years, at least until the complete unification of the Empire. The emperor in the east, Licinius maintained an adversarial relationship with Constantine for many years, which included two short wars for Imperial dominance. Licinius seems to have maintained more support for traditional pagan customs and Constantine may have resisted complete Christian conversion in order to maintain the approval of the non-Christian majority population. Perhaps in order to lure Constantine into a final battle, Licinius began inciting Pagans against Constantine's edict which favored Christianity and championed a Pagan cause. By 324 AD, the conflict and rivalry came to a head. Constantine defeated Licinius in battles at Adrianople and Chrysopolis, which ended in Licinius' capture and execution.

The conversion of the Roman Empire from paganism to Christianity came from the lower classes and eventually from the very Emperor’s themselves. Islam can’t boast that same history. Their conversions came from the sword, slavery and coercion.


No comments: