A History Untold
by Jaclyn Miller
Did you know hundreds of thousands of people have
been murdered for their faith in the God of the Bible? These peaceable
people had two main ties that bound them together: their belief that Jesus
Christ came to save the world from sin and that the Bible is God’s Word and sole
authority in their lives. Many generations of religions and/or governments
attacked, tortured, molested, and slaughtered these people simply because they
held to the Bible. From as early as the Jews of Jesus day, to the Roman
Catholic Church during the Dark Ages,
to the Protestant Reformers in
Europe and even in the American colonies, to today, there has been unending
persecution of Bible believers throughout the world. Most people
understand the Inquisition to be the height of religious persecution that
occurred for only a few hundred years in Europe, but, in fact, religious
persecution has continued for two millennia across the borders of many countries
including the American colonies.
In America and most other free countries today, we take our
religious freedoms for granted; to the point, we have all but forgotten why we
wanted those freedoms. Society
calls out cries out for
tolerance of everyone’s beliefs because, they claim, we all serve the “same
God”. Particularly, many of the churches that separated from the Roman Catholic
Church during of the Reformation have begun talking with the Roman
Catholic Church about becoming one church again. Dr. David Cloud, founder
of Way of Life Literature website (www.wayoflife.org), wrote, “The lie that
Catholicism is becoming more evangelical, more biblical, and more spiritual…is
being used to encourage ecumenical relationships between Catholics and
Ever since the Roman Catholic Church lost the great power she had before the
Reformation, Rome has been seeking to regain her glory years again.
Lutherans, Presbyterians, Anglicans, and etc. today do not fully understand why
they separated in the first place. If the churches that came out of the
Reformation do not remember the history of the persecutions and vicious
Inquisition against themselves, do Bible-believers even recall the persecutions
they have endured for so long from the Jews, the Roman Catholic Church, and the
To begin with, Religious persecution against Christians started
with Jesus Christ Himself being persecuted. The Jews were looking
for their Messiah to save them from the rule of the Romans, but when Jesus died,
as He said, to save them from their sins instead. The Jews rejected Jesus and
His followers as a result. Dr. Phil Stringer, who is an author and active
Bible conference speaker, says “The leaders of the Jewish Sanhedrin began the
first persecution of Christians” (49).
Harold Chadwick, Editorial Director of Bridge-Logos Publishers, wrote in the
updated version of “Foxe’s Book of Martyrs” that because He claimed to be the
Son of God, “The first to suffer for the Church was Jesus Himself—not a
martyr, of course, but the inspiration and source of all martyrdom” (4).
Because Christ was willing to suffer and die as He did on the cross, His
disciples believed that He taught the truth and followed Him, even unto death.
Peter, one of the more famous disciples, “requested that he be crucified in
an upside down position because he did not consider himself worthy to be
crucified in the same manner as his Lord”
7). “[Paul] was taken to the
execution block and beheaded.”
(Chadwick 8). All but one of
the twelve Disciples of Christ died violent deaths along with many other
followers of Christ. These men, guilty only of preaching in the name of
Christ, were murdered by the Jews, who did not want to hear the truth.
In 70 A.D., the Roman Army under the leadership of Titus sacked
Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple, but Christians were still persecuted,
now by the Romans. Contrary to popular belief today, Constantine,
who came to power in 306 A.D., was not a Christian in the same way as the Bible
teaches a Christian ought to be. “Like many during his time,
Constantine’s life and conduct were a mixture of Christianity and paganism.”
Romans of Constantine’s day just added the God of the Bible to their other gods,
instead of making the God of the Bible his sole authority. This
Christianity resembled that of the RCC, not of the Bible. Constantine
created the union between “church” and state though it still took some two
hundred years for the RCC to gain its full power. Additionally,
Constantine approved the famous Edict of Milan, supposedly giving Christians the
freedom to live out their faith. In Chadwick’s book, he writes “During
the thousand years of general peace Christians still suffered martyrdom for
their faith in Christ” (46).
Despite the edict, true Bible-believers still suffered for their faith because
the edict only approved the Roman Catholic version of Christianity.
However, the more they were persecuted, the more the Bible-believers spread the
gospel around the world.
As the Roman Catholic Church gained greater power over the
people’s lives, she tightened her grip not only on the populace but also on the
governments of that day. The reign of the Roman Catholic Church across
Europe was the second worst time of persecution for the Bible-believers because
the Roman Catholic Church refused to allow the people to read the Bible in the
vulgar (common) language (Cloud 61).
Yet, the people thirsted for the truth that can only be found in the Scriptures.
J. M. Cramp, college professor and college president in the 1800s, wrote that
because the populace was “Shocked at the frauds and crimes which were daily
perpetrated, they panted for something better than Rome proffered [offered].
The Gospel of Christ, as preached by the persecuted sects, satisfied their
souls” (Cramp 87)
The Popes hated anyone who opposed their authority, but most of all those who
insisted the Bible was the only authority by which a man should live.
“Cursing was first thought of, because it was easy, and the Church was expert at
it…they said ‘all manner of evil against them falsely,’ hurled anathemas
[permanent condemnation] at their heads, and called upon the people to ‘hate
them with a perfect hatred’” (Cramp 88).
During this time, the Popes began issuing Papal bulls to threaten Christians
with eternal separation from God. When this was not enough, the Popes
gathered armies to go on crusades by promising to those who served in them
salvation from their sins. “The human bloodhounds were at work in all
directions” (Cramp 90). These
armies would either wipe out whole towns, as in the case of the town of Beziers,
France. Contingents would harass families; they did not always care that there
might be Roman Catholics among those they slaughtered. Male or female from
the infant to the elderly, all were mistreated in the most horrific manner.
John T. Christian, professor of history in the Baptist Bible Institute, wrote
“Mary [Bloody Mary] sought to burn all who were opposed to Romanism, Baptists
and Reformers alike” (A History
of the Baptists Volume 1 203)
It was not uncommon for these believers, while they were yet alive, to have
their limbs cut off, stabbed many times, roasted in a fire like a pig, raped,
have private parts cut off, their entrails torn out, and then be paraded around
the town. Oftentimes, the great crime that warranted such treatment was
reciting Scripture in their mother tongue or denying that infant baptism had
saving merit. “Only when Rome lacked the power to accomplish its true
intention did she countenance the distribution of the Bible in the vernacular
languages, and even then she attempted to control such distribution and to force
the people to read only those Bibles that contain Catholic notes approved by its
hierarchy” (Cloud 44). As the
Roman Catholic Church began to lose power during the Reformation, it changed
tactics. Rome is now significantly destroying the foundation from which
the Scriptures were translated.
There is a common misconception that the Reformation finally
brought peace among religions; however, true Christians continued in the
“suffering, inflicted, not only by the Papists…but by their fellow-Protestants.
The Episcopalians and Presbyterians of England, the Lutherans of Germany, and
the reformed in Switzerland…agreed in persecuting the Baptists”
(Cramp 232). The Reformers
fought long and hard to gain their own religious freedom, but then turned around
and persecuted those same Bible-Believers that Rome had. Reformers treated
these people no better than the Roman Catholic Church. “Swiss
Presbyterians had won freedom for themselves, but they were determined not to
grant it to others” (Cramp 239).
“[John Calvin] was responsible in a large measure for the demon of hate and
fierce hostility which the Baptists of England had to encounter”
(Christian, A History of the Baptists Volume 1 198).
The leaders of these infant religions were just as harsh as Rome.
Protestants took away believer’s property, banished naked persons to the
wilderness, and many other horrific punishments, just like Rome. While
popes issued papal bulls of condemnation of Bible-Believers, Protestant rulers
issued laws against them. “These warrants are substantially alike… word
for word. Mary, the Papist, dooming to death the Protestant, and Elizabeth, the
Protestant, ordering the execution of the Baptist”
245). Baptists had no relief
from their persecutions during or after the Reformation. There was no peace
anywhere they moved in Europe; for if Rome was not attacking them, Reformists
This harassment continued even on the North American continent.
History books cast the colonies as a place of religious bliss from the start.
However, “As the Puritans settled around the Pilgrims, they brought their ideas
of a state church with them, and they soon began to harass the Baptists and
(Stringer 184). Religious
freedom was a major reason for the emigration to America, yet leaving Europe and
starting over completely was not enough. Protestants wanted freedom for
themselves, but not for others. “Most colonial governments treated
Baptists with hostility or outright persecution” (Stringer 187).
Though it is touted as representative of all the colonies at the time,
Providence, Rhode Island was an anomaly of religious liberty among the colonies.
Even as late as “1768, three Baptists were arrested for witnessing in Virginia,
and they continued to preach through the window of the Culpepper County jail” (Stringer 188).
These three were eventually let go, but others were whipped viciously or
banished to the wilderness for similar acts of faith. Part of a law passed
in Massachusetts against Baptists reads, “It is ordered and agreed, that if any
person or persons… shall either openly [condemn] or oppose the baptizing of
infants…every such person or persons shall be sentenced to banishment” (qtd. in
Christian, A History of the Baptists volume 2 54). It was not until after
the colonies won the War for Independence that Baptists finally had relief from
their persecutions, but even then, it was only in the United States of America.
In the United States of America, we live a life bathed in
freedom. We have forgotten the price that was paid for this freedom and
the lack of freedom that other countries suffer. “During this century
alone, more Christians have been killed for their faith than in all previous
centuries combined” (Chadwick 323).
This persecution has only worsened in the last one hundred years. The
media does not report on these controversially religious massacres occurring
around the world. “Communists persecuted Christians, destroyed their
churches, imprisoned them, tortured them, and killed them. During the
height of Communism worldwide, an average of 330,000 Christians were killed
every year” (Chadwick 326).
This is just in the last 40 years. While the USSR has been dissolved,
there are still other Communist countries persecuting more than 150,000
Christians a year. In China in 1990, Mother and daughter were imprisoned
for the mother’s beliefs
(Chadwick 348-349). China does
not want the people to have freedom to worship God as they believe He ought to
be worshipped. Over the last year, China has been clamping down harder on
its people by not allowing them free reign of the internet. Additionally,
Islamic countries do not want any other religion but that of Islam.
Muslims have even burned their own Koran and blamed it on the Christians falsely
(Chadwick 365). There is still
widespread persecution of Bible-Believers around the world today. Even in
America, Christians are told to be tolerant of others’ beliefs, to be
non-judgmental, which is contrary to what the Bible teaches. While we
don’t have the physical persecution like that of other countries, we still are
looked down upon for our beliefs. We, American Christians, face the least
amount of persecution, but are the most afraid to stand up for the Bible because
we might offend someone else.
Bible-believing Christians have continuously been persecuted
from the time of Christ until the present. The Jews were the first to
reject the Disciples and other Christians. While Constantine is considered
the first Christian to rule Rome, he also discriminated against the
Bible-believers; furthermore, he started the “state-church” of the Roman
Catholic Church. When Rome held sway over all Europe, she viciously
attacked anyone who opposed her. Once the Protestant Reformers gained
their own freedom, they began to persecute Bible-Believers just as much as the
RCC even in the colonies of the New World. Religious liberty did not exist
for Baptists until the United States had gained its independence, but even then,
this freedom is found only in certain countries. Many have heard of the
Inquisition, but have not been told about any of the other intense persecutions
that have happened for the last two-thousand years. As time rolls on, the
story of the discrimination of Bible-Believers is lost in the past. These
important, yet often neglected, accounts must be taught lest history repeats
itself, and in ten years, the Roman Catholic Church regain her glory years, once
again leaving no safe haven for those that oppose her.
Harold J. The New Foxe's Book of Martyrs. North Brunswick: Bridge-Logos
Publishers, 1997. Print.
Christian, John T. A History of the Baptists Volume 1.
Texarkana: Bogard Press, 1922. Print.
—. A History of the Baptists Volume 2. Texarkana: Bogard
Press, 1926. Print.
Cloud, David. Rome and The Bible. Port Huron: Way of Life
Literature, 2009. Print.
Cramp, J. M. Baptist History: From the Foundation of the
Christian Church to the Present Time. London: Baptist Heritage Publications,
Stringer, Phil. The Faithful Baptist Witness. Chicago:
Lightning Source, Inc., 2011. Print.