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Thread: The Historical Tolerance of Polytheism

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    Sr. Member Yazichestvo's Avatar
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    The Historical Tolerance of Polytheism

    It's often been pointed out that polytheistic cultures tended not to care all that much if their neighbors had different Gods. Some Gods even got shared, others syncretized. This has lead some to characterize polytheistic societies as more tolerant than the Abrahamic faiths. Of course, that's a bit of a generalization. The Romans could be pretty intolerant at times, as the link below discusses. However, while the Romans appear to have been very rough with the Christians, many others pagan cultures were quite tolerant. In Scandinavia, Ireland, and a number of other places, Christians were allowed to preach freely by local rulers.. In many cases throughout history, pagans have even worshiped the Christian God alongside others.

    ww.quora.com/Ancient-Rome/Why-did-the-ancient-Romans-persecute-Jews-and-Christians-but-not-many-other-religions-Is-it-because-they-were-offended-by-the-idea-of-a-one-true-god-that-rejected-their-many-gods


    The Romans are everyone's go-to example of pagan intolerance. Interestingly, it seems that the Romans could be tolerant of Judaism. So the rejection of Christianity was more nuanced than simply being intolerant of monotheism. I've also heard it argued that the Roman motivations for persecuting a religion were largely political; they only persecuted those religions which were seen as inherently seditious, or in direct opposition to Rome, which Christianity sometimes was. The fact that it was overtly antagonistic towards all other religions probably scared them, and ultimately, you could argue that all of their fears of Christianity were proven to be well-founded. It seems that the Christians were persecuted as a political threat, not as heretics.

    To be fair, you could argue that when someone is persecuting you, it really doesn't matter all that much whether it's for political or religious reasons. However, I think it does matter in the modern context; the political motivations that the Romans had for persecuting Christians are easily removed from the Roman religion itself. Originally , the Roman religion didn't even have an Emperor or Empire to be intertwined with. To me, this is just more evidence that politics corrupt religion, and vice-versa.

    Divesting Christianity of its old intolerant habits is more difficult in modern times, because in my opinion, a large part of that intolerance is the very foundation of Abrahamic religion. Feel free to disagree, or offer any other thoughts or opinions
    If you want to be thought intelligent, just agree with everyone.

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    306 Maria de Luna's Avatar
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    Re: The Historical Tolerance of Polytheism

    This is an interesting theory, but I tend to feel it's more some of the people who had an early hand in directing certain faiths perhaps made them into more intolerant versions of what they had once been meant to be, (see anything written by John in the Bible) in fact the direction of certain religions was edited long enough ago that no one seems to remember it having been done... The basic foundations of many religions are inherently nice and tolerant, it is the people who involved themselves in it after the fact which corrupted them...
    http://catcrowsnow.blogspot.com/

    But they were doughnuts of darkness. Evil damned doughnuts, tainted by the spawn of darkness.... Which could obviously only be redeemed by passing through the fiery inferno of my digestive tract.
    ~Jim Butcher

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    Re: The Historical Tolerance of Polytheism

    Christianity is basically polytheism in disguise IMO.

    Yaweh/God - the Male, masculine God

    Jesus - the Goddess (depicted as a feminine type man)

    Demi-Gods - Saints, prophets and various other biblical characters

    + a whole host of other semi-divine entities - angels, spirits, devil, demons etc..

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    Supporter RiverSong's Avatar
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    Re: The Historical Tolerance of Polytheism

    Quote Originally Posted by westwoden View Post
    Christianity is basically polytheism in disguise IMO.

    Yaweh/God - the Male, masculine God

    Jesus - the Goddess (depicted as a feminine type man)

    Demi-Gods - Saints, prophets and various other biblical characters

    + a whole host of other semi-divine entities - angels, spirits, devil, demons etc..
    Hahaha! I enjoy this view, made me laugh and clap. ^_^
    And it's how I basically see Christianity too.
    Though... do not whisper this in a church, unless it's empty. You may just get burned at a stake or something for heresy. ;o_o

    I agree with Maria also, that it's not the religion itself that makes a person intolerant (and I also believe the all religions weren't meant to be intolerant in the beginning, Romans notwithstanding). It's the people who corrupt the meaning of a religion and use it as a weapon against others for personal reasons. I should know, because when I was in the faith and being trained, I was told often that the Bible was our weapon not only against the evil of the world, but also to be used against the non-believers. That's not what it's for and not all Christian churches teach that... but in the wrong hands or group, the Bible is like giving a grande to a child to play with. Same for every other religion too, though I've yet to experience an intolerant Pagan. ;^_^

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    Re: The Historical Tolerance of Polytheism

    The mainstream religions tend to morph into self-abomination mode, a victim of their own evangelism.

    one of their achilles heels is their plan to take over the world and force unbelievers to adhere to their views, thus creating intolerance and temples full of pretend believers.

    Which in turn gives a great weapon to the bigots - a holy script , building or concept to hide behind.

    'God's will is this' = 'my will is this'.

    but how can one realistically challenge this when the law is on the side of these supposed believers (as in various theocratic states today and many from the recent past).

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    Re: The Historical Tolerance of Polytheism

    So true, westwoden. It makes me a lot sad about the whole thing. I think the original ideas in mainstream religions was a good one, before it was edited to death and morphed into hypocritical meanderings of the those who wish to enslave the world under their own image. In fact, I like to point out to bigots and those on their very high horse, that everything they push, bully, and preach is directly warned against in the teachings of their deities itself. I know too many people who pick and choose verses from a Bible, that suits their personal views best. For example, "Witchcraft and homosexuality is evil, so says the Bible! Let's beat up the homo or witch!" yet they ignore the scripture of "love thy neighbor as you would love yourself.", "judge not lest ye be judge", "vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord", etc etc. I do know some who look down on me as "evil" and say so openly, I am judged by their ideas of their Christian faith, yet they had or having marital affairs or are drunkards. Which both things are considered "an abomination" in the book. I don't like selective faith reading, whatsoever. And I believe they are "pretenders" as you call them.

    Though, that hasn't change my view or tolerance for mainstream religion. I do know a few tolerant Christians all the same. And no, it's not an oxymoron either, it's possible! ^_^

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