Seekers Temple
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Teachings of Seekers Temple

The Christian "Persuasion"
 
From the mouths of preachers, followers, and pamphlets left on your doorknob alike; we are exposed to the "Word of God" in which they inform you of the following...
1. If you have not found god, you must and you will burn if you do not.
2. If you have found god, you must obey his rule or you will burn.
It can get pretty annoying to those of us who have made it clear we are not one of them. Unfortunately, since its conception, Christianity has been focused on growing their religion without much regard for others around them. Many a pagan have fell victim to the all too common tactics used by modern Christians that haven't really changed much over the past 2000 years. Some Pagans even leave the religion and find themselves right back where they started. Historically speaking, Christians have been doing the same things for quite awhile.
The first is the most popular... extortion. Extortion is the act of obtaining something through means of force and threats. For a historical example, look no further than the Christianization of Iceland. Beginning in 980 AD, Iceland was sent several missionaries who sought to spread the declared word of god among the Norse Pagans who occupied the large island. After extremely unsuccessful attempts, the new Christian Norwegian King "Olaf Tryggvason" sent a Christian by the name of Stefnir back to his homeland of Iceland to convert them, in which he was accounted to have destroyed sanctuaries of "heathen gods" and became an outlaw under the eyes of angered Pagans. After this unsuccessful attempt, he sent Thangbrand who also reported his failure to convert. Aggression building, Olaf then began cutting all trade with Iceland (halting their economy), taking Icelanders living in Norway hostage(whom of which he threatened to kill if they didn't convert) and sent more missionaries. Eventually, a priest named Thorgeir Thorkelsson was given the responsibility to decide if Iceland should convert. After contemplating, he decided that Iceland would become Christian under conditions that private worship would still be allowed (which was later banned by the church). Through this measure, means of weakening economy and threats of war brought more faith than the words of Christ ever could.
 
The second is by mass promotion and peer pressure. Apostle Paul is extremely noted for starting this, especially in areas like Greece. Under his travels, he preached an all-inclusive religion that attracted many lower class people like criminals, slaves, peasants, etc. "So in Christ Jesus, you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:26-28" Considering also, many of these slaves and low-class people were under the rule of Pagan leaders. With a large percentage making up that category, this allowed the ability to put pressure on leaders and rulers alike. Once Christianity was accepted, fury and aggression could be displayed upon Pagans and effectively be purged by the massive population who were now bearing the cross.
The third is by subterfuge. In regions like that of Germania, kings, and rulers often bore the responsibility of being the medium between the people and the gods (Also by means of priests and priestesses). Knowing this, missionaries and the like often misrepresented Christ and often had him added among pantheons (evidenced by Thor's hammer with crosses found by archaeologists) by kings and nobles who would then push it on the common folk. Through this, Christianity was made palatable to people by drawing similarities. Jesus was formed to resemble a warrior who approached his death both eagerly and fearlessly. Similarities were drawn between Woden and Christ. Pagans, unlike Christians, had no reason to exclude a god and in doing so had Christianity become the dominant religion under their noses who had no qualms about banning their cultural gods once in power.
 
So, how do these historical examples apply to us today?
 
We still see extortion. After all, one major bargaining chip for Christians is the promise of eternal damnation if you do not accept their god. We may also see this in our own families who would be/are angered by the thought of us being Pagan and may look down or even disown us. Their religion does not allow for other gods besides their one and although the modern law does not allow them to kill us anymore, we can still see their barbarity practiced in places like Africa today. Public aggression is still the norm, like churches targeting temples or posting hateful bible quotes on their social media to incite hate. Politicians still campaign to keep their cities, counties, and towns Christian by means of discrimination.
 
We still see mass promotion and peer pressure. This has a lot to do with friends, neighbors, and family who are eager to spread their message and hope to get it to someone. Saying no to the church member who rang your doorbell may earn you a door-step choir next time. The "Christian nation" folk stands at the ready to inform you how many people are Christian and "how could it be wrong if the majority of your country hears the word of god". Without trying to get EVERYONE to be them, how would they have gotten this far? "Be it rapist, murderer, mechanic, doctor, etc....you are all equal under God, come to us!"...HOGWASH! Many people who have low self-esteem will be attracted to this measure with a need to fit in.
 
We still see subterfuge.
"Just because you're Pagan doesn't mean you cant celebrate Christmas" they will say, who WANT you to be part of their celebration towards their god, rather you know it or not.
"You can still worship Jesus" they exclaim, knowing full well you will have to make the choice between him or them one day. Maybe if they can get you to hold onto him a little longer, you'll change your mind.
"We are friends/family and I just want you at church, you don't have to be there for religion" they whisper, but for some reason never come when you ask them to see your place of worship. They will be busy or not have time.
 
Still true today, the Christian "Persuasion" looms over our heads as they did in days of old.
 
Will you be steadfast? Or will you fall victim to the very things our ancestors did?
 
Something to Think about,
from Justin C,
student of Seekers Temple.

The Slow Decline and Discrimination of Pagan Religions: 
A Brief History
By Justin C, 
Student of Seekers Temple

To begin this journey, we begin in 306 AD Rome when Constantine began his reign. Until Constantine, Rome was almost entirely Pagan having many temples, altars, and other sanctuaries dedicated to Pagan gods across the city. Baptized on his deathbed, Constantine not only became the first Christian emperor, but he also decriminalized Christianity. Unfortunately, it was also he who put into place some laws like prohibiting the construction of new Pagan temples and later ordered the destruction and plundering of some(Most notably the Temple of Aphrodite in Lebanon, and the murder of Eunech priests in Egypt). Very little pressure was placed on individual Pagans at this time. Paganism itself was not illegal but was slowly being shown regulation handed down by an Emperor.

Constantius II, continuing the works of Constantine, began enacting numerous anti-Pagan laws that included up to the death penalty for things like attending sacrifices and worshipping idols. Firmicus Maternus, a convert to Christianity, urged to the Emperor, "Paganism, most holy emperors, must be utterly destroyed and blotted out, and disciplined by the severest enactments of your edicts, lest the deadly delusion of the presumption continues to stain the Roman world" and "How fortunate you are that God, whose agents you are, has reserved for you the destruction of idolatry and the ruin of profane temples." Christians, although still outnumbered, began vandalizing, destroying, defacing, defiling, and pillaging ancient Pagan temple, tombs, and monuments. Although he encountered some resistance from governors and magistrates, it was mostly passive. However, he did not do away with some Pagan things like the College of Vestal Virgins(The group who cared for the sacred, ever burning fire of Rome), and he himself was deified by the Roman Senate after death.
Julian, educated by Hellenists and co-emperor since 355, ruled from 361-363 AD. A true pagan Emperor, he witnessed the assassination of his father, brother, and other family members by guards of the Imperial Palace under Constantius. Under his rule, he allowed religious freedom and attempted to restore Roman Religion as the driving force of the Empire. Other notable actions include the reinstallment of the Altar of Victory. Julian, as told by Sozomen, did not allow any injustice or insult done unto Christians. However, Christians were not allowed to study ancient authors. "Let them keep to Luke and Matthew, Julian was quoted. Julian himself saw Christianity as completely incompatible with syncretic Paganism and made the implication very clear that the partnership between Rome and Christian Bishops was now at an end. He was thought to have been killed in battle by a spear, to which Christianity developed a myth stating Saint Mercurius killed Julian in later years. 
Fast forward to 382. Emperor Gratian began reinstating anti-Pagan laws (most likely influenced by Ambrose, Bishop of Milan). He ordered the confiscation of possessions from priestly colleges and ordered the Altar of Victory to be removed once again. He also declared all temples and shrines to be taken by the government and their revenue to be directed towards the Royal Treasury. 
Valentinian II, continued anti-Pagan laws and also added to them things like prohibiting Pagans from visiting temples, denied the request to restore the Altar of Victory, and refused to restore income to the Priestly Colleges.

Theodosius, beginning in 381, presented the harshest Pagan laws compared to his predecessors. He criminalized magistrates who refused to enforce anti-Pagan laws and destroyed some Pagan temples. The infamous "Theodosian Decree" forbade once again the visiting of Pagan temples, abolished remaining Pagan holidays, extinguished the sacred fire of Rome, and disbanded the Vestal Virgins. When he became emperor of the whole empire in 392, he ordered the killing of Pagan priests and the destruction of any idol, object, or place of reverence for Pagans. This became an official war on any traditional religious practice, and anyone caught was put to death and their property confiscated (Even for small familial rites). It is thought he also banned the Olympic Games, considering the last recorded one was in 393.
Theodosius's policies were proceeded by emperors like Arcadius, Honorius, Theodosius II, Marcian, and Leo I. They continued to increase penalties against Pagans due to Pagan support being among Roman nobles, senators, magistrates, imperial palace officers, and other officials. This implies that Paganism still had many followers. Paganism continued to be carried out in secret, as implied by the existence of Theodosian Code 16.10.24 (Which outlines the recognition that some people were just pretending to be Christian). Some Christians even converted back to Paganism, with even more laws being enacted upon apostasy. By this time, Pagans began voicing their resentment (Ex, Eunapius, and Olympiodorus), to the point that they blamed the Sack of Rome in 410 to the empire being under Christian governance. Non-Christian writings found themselves in bonfires, with Christians threatening to cut off the hands of anyone who dare copy them. Saint Augustine of Hippo used his congregation in Carthage to smash all symbols of Paganism they could lay their hands on.

In 476, after the fall of the Western Empire, Pagans attempted to revive the old rites. Magister Orientem Illus, revolted against Eastern Emperor Zeno and raised his own candidate named Leontius to the throne. With hopes to restore temples and ancient ceremonies, many Pagans joined in the revolt against Zeno. Zeno captured both of them 488 and had them executed. Following, Zeno instituted many more anti-Pagan laws. Many Pagans, disillusioned by the failed revolt, became Christian or pretended to be, to avoid persecution. 
Under Pope Gregory, I, the holy sites and places once used to worship Pagan gods were now appropriated by Christianity. "Let altars be built and relics placed there so that the Pagans have to change from the worship of demons to that of the true god".
As far as the ancient Roman Empire goes, the line stops here as no more laws and regulations could be enacted because the ultimate punishment for a Pagan would be death. From here on, the virus of Christianity would continue to spread through Europe, and eventually the rest of the world to which Pagans would be placed under the same persecution.
May we learn from this, and may it never happen again.
May the gods bless us all.

 

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