Did Christianity Bring Down the Roman Empire?


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Rome was a vast empire that lasted for about 1,ooo years. It was founded in 753 B.C and collapsed around the 5th century. To give you a brief history of what happened in this time, Rome was split into two different empires: East and West. The western part of the Empire fell in 476 A.D while the Eastern Empire thrived until Muslim forces conquered Constantinople in 1453 A.D.

At its height, Rome held territories from Britain to Asia Minor. Many of the Roman roads that connected Europe in that ancient time are still used today. So what eventually brought down this great empire?

Yes, it was stretched too thin. Yes, there were several barbarian attacks and invasions that eventually brought the whole thing down.

Yet there was another decisive factor as well: the forced conversion to Christianity.

The empire converted to Christianity in 395 A.D. and fell apart about 80 years later.



Up until that point, Rome was tolerant of different religious and cultural ideas. This was the key to their success actually. The persecution of Christians in Rome was a highly exaggerated affair. The Christians were persecuted more for their refusal to follow Roman laws than they were for their religious beliefs.

For example, if a Fundamentalist Religious Cult in America refused to follow our most basic of laws (and claimed God as the reason) we’d probably throw the practitioners of that cult in jail.

I am not trying to downplay the barbarity of Roman conquest here. I am well aware that Romans had their fair share of slavery, warfare and capital punishment. They also did force Roman cultural norms upon those they conquered. (The execution of the Druids at the Isle of Mona was a particularly gruesome affair)

However, the Romans did not do a wholesale eradication of the cultures and Gods of the people they conquered. Most people were permitted to continue with these traditions as long as they also worshiped the Roman emperor as a God and paid their taxes. (With the exception of Carthage. The Romans waged a brutal campaign and salted the Earth in Carthage so that nothing could grow).

The Romans even added other cultures Gods within their own repertoire. For example, when the Gauls started fighting within Roman military ranks, Roman Calvary started saying prayers to the Gallic Horse Goddess Epona.

Pictures of the Egyptian Goddess Isis suckling her son Horus were also circulated in Roman homes (later to be copied by images of the Mother Mary suckling Jesus).


(Roman Statue of Egyptian Goddess Isis)

My point here is that the Roman empire could not have ever hoped to become as large and powerful as they did if they were not tolerant. Rome had its flaws to be sure, but it was an empire that was highly advanced for its time. It was a place where art, science, poetry, and medicine flourished. Rome was an advanced society because they learned from those they conquered and became stronger in the process. You can only benefit from your conquered subjects if you allow them to maintain some level of autonomy – if you don’t crush the spirit and soul of those you rule over.

For example, by allowing the Greeks to maintain their “Greekness” so to speak, The Romans were able to share the benefits of the great art, knowledge and science produced by the Greeks. Many Roman families even employed tutors for their children from Greece (or had Greek slaves for this purpose). The Romans also knew how to turn the ferocity of the Gauls to their advantage, by employing Gallic mercenaries in the military with the promise of Roman Citizenship as a reward. The Gauls could not have been great warriors if the Romans tried to eradicate and supplant Gallic culture in entirety.

Xenophobic and narrow minded civilizations can not achieve the same grandeur as Rome did. For example, when the Ming Dynasty in China abandoned exploration and trade in favor of Isolationism, their status as a world power declined rapidly – and they were eventually conquered by European powers within a few centuries.


When Rome embraced Monotheistic Christianity, their blazing torch of culture, art and power was extinguished. Christian values were completely contrary to Roman Pagan values. Romans and their Gods valued a bold and heroic life in the present. The Gods rewarded those who were particularly brave, beautiful or artistic. Christianity, with its focus on a meek and mild existence in exchange for a glorious afterlife was completely contrary to indigenous European values in general.

Up until Rome’s forced conversion in 395 A.D, Christianity was an insignificant cult, a fringe minority that many people never even heard of.

Yet once Rome converted, Christianity released a madhouse of horrors upon Rome. Ancient temples to other Gods were sacked and destroyed. Entire libraries of valuable knowledge and literature were  burned to the ground. The tolerance that allowed Rome to rule over a vast and diverse empire was replaced by a zealous, single minded cult that destroyed all who didn’t subscribe to their ideology. Even other Christians were killed if they didn’t adhere to the “correct” version of Christianity.

Even if the strongest person swallows a poison, they become more vulnerable to the most mild of viruses. Once Rome embraced Christianity, it fell prey to barbarian invasion, splintering and eventual destruction.

The light of Rome was replaced by a millenia of darkness and ignorance. Western Europe became rampant with inquisitions, crusades, witch burnings and disease. It wasn’t until the church started to lose authority in Europe around the Renaissance that Western Europe began to get back onto its feet again. Coincidence? I think not.

Spiritually the world must once again learn how to tolerate different systems of belief that are aligned with the real principals of human nature (rather than attempting a system of morality only suitable for the dead).


May the torch of the Ancient Pagan world burn bright once again as many around the world reawaken to ancient values.

Now enjoy some Roman Metal:


6 responses

  1. Samantha

    This was a great article, I always thought the same thing when reading history. Tolerance and acceptance of others beliefs is what allows us to grow and become stronger and more intelligent.

    April 1, 2013 at 5:55 pm

  2. Did Christianity bring down the Roman world? Who knows. It is probably more complex than religion and involving political and economic factors also. If you abandon your god with a thunderbolt on a mountain for one nailed to a cross, probably a bad choice, lol. The Romans did wipe out those who would not yield, like the Druids, but once the troops passed by the old religions were still allowed to worship as they wish. I think the later Caesars of Rome declaring themselves to be gods and demanding worship might have pissed off their gods for sure, must like Christians saying the teacher Jesus is God.
    I am reminded of the difference between Buddhism going into Hindu areas and saying their gods were still gods and could still be worshiped at the gateway to the new Buddhist temple. But the Christians said no your gods are demons and burned everything down then built their churches on the ashes, as evidenced by archeological evidence of old altars below new ones and old temples below even the Vatican.

    April 1, 2013 at 6:30 pm

    • You’re right Blau Stern. The collapse of Rome was a complex affair and probably was caused by a multitude of things. As I said above, being stretched too thin and having constant barbarian invasions is probably not good. Yet I think Christianity is a catalyst (perhaps among others) that helped the collapse happen. For example, if the Romans never Christianized, they may have been able to work out a more reasonable agreement with the Barbarians who were angry at them (rather than “my way or the highway”).

      If it weren’t for Christianity, I think the Roman Empire would’ve fallen apart much later – and the dark ages wouldn’t have lasted 1,000 years. There would’ve just been a century or two of chaos before another group rose to power. But that is just speculation on my part, who knows what really would’ve happened.

      As I said in my analogy in the article, drinking a poison may not be enough alone to kill a strong man. But it will weaken his defenses enough for other diseases to do the job. Christianity alone didn’t destroy Rome, but it was a philosophy that significantly weakened Rome’s culture enough for other invading forces to finish the job.

      April 1, 2013 at 9:25 pm

  3. Pingback: The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire – Video Map | Metal Gaia

  4. Anne

    You make many excellent points. However, I have to disagree with this statement: “…if a Fundamentalist Religious Cult in America refused to follow our most basic of laws (and claimed God as the reason) we’d probably throw the practitioners of that cult in jail.”

    Actually, fundamentalist Christians are destroying our country right now. They refuse to abide by the laws and customs of the majority of Americans and instead pursue a judgmental and prejudicial attack on our hard won support for individual human rights. They object to women having a reproductive freedom and they want to persecute LGBT persons. Recent court decisions have allowed the religious beliefs of employers to interfere with the treatment offered to women under the health insurance they offer. And others refuse to bake wedding cakes for gay marriage.

    This extreme intolerance is flamed by the corporatocracy. By aligning with these religious zealots, they elect public officials who refuse to invest in things to benefit the people of the country and instead funnel tax dollars to the obscenely rich and well connected. The result is a very divided country serving corporations and not citizens. Divided we fall. As went Rome, so goes the USA.

    January 27, 2018 at 9:34 pm

  5. Dom

    Ok, you are obviously insane. Look at you trying desperately to link your hyper-partisan political views to history as if it provides you with some vindication. “they they they” are you their spokesperson? You speak like there’s some mass christian conspiracy to oppress you and in your head “the majority of Americans”, despite the majority of Americans being Christians (75%, a number you’d be pleased to hear is rapidly falling). The irony is that you are in fact the intolerant oppressor as evidenced by your outage that a baker wasn’t forced to violate his religious convictions and your willingness to use the powers of government to ensure that he does. And think of it: “my employer has to pay for my abortion or else!” Really, it’s you being intolerant.

    And you’re also a prime example of our division as a country. You are “talking past” your opposition and rather than trying to make a persuasive argument. Whole thing reeks of radicalization.

    Now, I’ve heard this argument before, that Christianity brought down the empire or served as a “catalyst” and even believed it true for a while because it certainly had its negative effects. For one, materials were being squandered away, public order was low and there was a general unwillingness to serve in the Roman legions, prompting them to hire more and more barbarian soldiers with little loyalty to the empire.

    But the real catalyst was of course hundreds of thousands of barbarians displaced from Hunnic invasions pouring over Rome’s borders. The first wave was Visigoths, asking for refuge within the empire. Rather than breaking them up into smaller groups and relocating them around the empire as would have been standard, they were allowed to remain in one centralized force. The eastern half saw this as an opportunity to hire low cost soldiers while most of their troops were committed in the east defending against Persians. But instead the Visigoths revolted and began raiding the Balkans, demanding the release of former slaves to bolster their forces. A series of incompetency crushed Rome’s military and they were soon unable to defend their provinces of Gaul (France), Hispania, Britainia or North Africa from the overwhelming number of barbarians trying to invade.

    I think we can all agree the catalyst was the barbarians, but a strong Rome would’ve been able to deal with them. What really brought down the empire was the empire: the centralization of power and the in-fighting for that power that ensues made it difficult for emperors to realize their true responsibilities, as they they had to focus on their own survival. Not to mention it could take more than a year just to hear word of the what’s happening in the other provinces, let alone respond. As aforementioned, many problems were tied to “imperial overreach”. The republic was a simply a better system and would’ve been able to deal with the incompetency of some of Rome’s leaders, and perhaps provide a strong system of provincial (decentralized) defense.

    May 12, 2018 at 12:57 pm

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