Forced conversions to Christianity?

Stark (Bearing False Witness) documents the fact that the notion that there were massive "forced conversions" to Christianity in Late Antiquity is false. His own work (The Rise of Christianity and The Triumph of Christianity) has shown that the main factors prompting conversions were social and doctrinal: "socially, Christianity generated an intense congregational life" and "doctrinally, in contrast to paganism''s belief in limited, unreliable, and often immoral Gods, Christianity presented an image of God as moral, concerned, dependable, and omnipotent" (56). He demonstrates that the Christian emperors continued to employ large numbers of pagans as consuls and prefects. He quotes the Code of Justinian, from as late as the sixth century, declaring: "We especially command those persons who are truly Christians, or who are said to be so, that they should not abuse the authority of religion and dare to lay violent hands on Jews and pagans, who are living quietly and attempting nothing disorderly or contrary to law" (55).


  1. The legal insistence in that pagans and jews had to be respected is in itself a syntom that they often were not

    1. Hmm, was the title of this post, "Were Jews and pagans always respected by Christians?"

      Or was it about forced conversions? Hmm, let's see...


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