Lawren Szilagy

Mr. Evans
12 April 2016
Religion 10: Period 3
The Persecution of Christians
Pope Francis stated, “The proclamation of Jesus is not a veneer; the proclamation
of Jesus goes straight to the bones, heart, goes deep within and changes us. And the spirit
of the world does not tolerate it, will not tolerate it, and therefore, there is persecution.”
Christians have been questioned and persecuted for their religion throughout history,
today, and will continue to be in the future. According to a recent study by the Pew
Research Center, Christians face religious persecution in more countries than any other
religious group. In this paper, I will compare the persecution of Christians in the early
church, the French Revolution, and today. Although persecuted, Christianity in every age
always seems to rise through adversity and hardship.
In the early church, when Christianity was just starting to grow, Christians faced
numerous obstacles. The early church faced persecutions from the Roman government,
and Christians were brought under the wrath of the Romans as being treasonous and
worthy of death, due to their opposition to Roman polytheism and their unwillingness to
participate in the emerging emperor cult. Early Christians were also persecuted by the
Jewish leaders, who were afraid of losing their power and influence due to the numerous
Jews converting to Christianity. The Jews harassed the evangelizing Christians, put them
in prisons, and even put them to death. This harsh treatment however did not hinder the
Christians in converting thousands of Jews. The Roman and Jewish persecution of the

Christians resulted in thousands of Christians being killed. Although at risk of being put
to death, Christians continued to practice and evangelize.
The French Revolution broke out in 1789, and along with it came a deChristianization movement. From 1790 to 1794, monasteries closed and there was a civil
election of bishops and priests in France. If a priest refused to take a public oath of
loyalty to the state, they had to flee and hide, and were known as refractory priests.
Religious garb was prohibited, religious orders were suspended, and by 1794, Churches
were closed and worship was banned. William Joseph Chaminade, a refractory priest who
was exiled to Spain in 1797, was inspired by Mary, and upon his return to France in 1800,
he and two other women developed a group called the Society of Mary, who dedicated
their lives to prayer and the re-Christianization of society. They were successful in their
work, proving once again that Christianity will rise even through adversity and tough
times.
Some of the obstacles Christians face today in some parts of the world are just as
extreme as those faced in the past. According to opendoorsusa.org, 322 Christians are
killed for their faith, 214 Churches and Christian properties are destroyed, and 772 forms
of violence, such as beatings, abductions, rapes, arrests, and forced marriages, are
committed against Christians each month. Christians, especially in the Middle East, are
continuously being persecuted and killed by terrorist groups such as ISIS. In the United
States, the Little Sisters of the Poor are fighting with the Obama administration over the
Affordable Care Act, which forces religious institutions to go against their beliefs by
offering health care that includes things such as abortions and contraceptives. Although

killed and fought with, Christians continue to practice their faith and do not hesitate to
peacefully fight back in defense for what they believe in.
Persecution will always be one of the biggest obstacles for Christians. Christians
have faced this in various forms throughout the past and will continue to face it until the
Second Coming. Each of the era’s stories are so distinct, yet they are connected by the
common strain of being questioned, ridiculed, and fought with about Christianity.
Although faced with obstacles and even death, Christians do not hesitate to continue with
their faith. Nothing, not even death or persecution, has stopped or will stop the faith and
hope that lies in the hearts of Christians for Jesus Christ.