My Emperor Diocletian, as you may have been aware, the spread of Christianity made some of our senators worried, that it may threaten the ultimate authority the Roman Empire has on its multiple lands. They refer to the threats this cult can bring to our customs and principles, skewing the right from wrong and meddling with the subjects’ minds. As the result, the subjects would deny everything we call dear or right. I have looked into the essence of this cult to investigate its influence over people and whether we should severely destroy or tolerate it.
It seems the center of the cult is their prophet, Christ, who claims to be a God’s son on Earth. His teachings provide various instructions on how people should live and interact. Their rituals are very limited and do not require any specific place or conditions. It seems, their prayers can be done at home, behind the closed door. Ultimately, their practices are encouraged to be invisible to others; otherwise, their God will not respond to their prayers and will punish them afterward. Their secrecy is not harmful to the Empire, because the Christians will not desire our temples or require any additional land in order to conduct their rituals and build their sacred places.
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My Emperor Diocletian, I have also looked closely into the question of raising Christianity on the lands of the Roman Empire, and unlike the other senator, I see the danger in this cult, which may threaten the very foundation of our well-being. Their prophet, Chris, denies everything our Empire stands on. He teaches that a person should not worry about the clothes or food, because if a person follows their rules, their God will give everything. If we let the subjects believe in such notions, nobody will work and will spend all their time praying, asking for food and clothes. If nobody works, the Empire will have nothing to collect the taxes from. It is a known fact, the Empire needs funds to march gloriously across the lands, preserving ruling where it was established and expand our influence on other lands. If we subdue this laziness notion, we compromise one of the pillars of the Empire.
The other senator says the Christians praying in secret is a good aspect for us, but these circumstances hold the danger for the Empire. Such secret rituals provide the opportunity to gather and discuss different plans in secrecy. The topics of the discussion may not be limited only by their ritual. I am afraid, the topics of rivalry and plots may come across their minds, thus setting in motion dangerous processes within the Empire. Adding reductions in the income, due to fewer taxes collected, brewing the plots within the Empire may make our enemies eager to try us.
I have investigated on the subject as well, as discovered a dangerous tendency. The number of followers of this cult grows every day, and we must act now, till there are a few of them. The interrogations should be public and severe, to give a lesson to others, then this cult will not save from reality. This way we will also demonstrate the power the Roman Empire has on setting the order. Considering the influence this cult begins to have over subjects in further provinces of our Empire, we should protect the Romans from its harmful influence.
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My Emperor Diocletian, it seems the senator is well-informed about the core principles of this cult. I have also taken time to look deep into it in order to provide you only with the genuine truth. While the senator refers to asking for clothes and food, he is not quite accurate about the notion. Indeed, it is said that the Christians should not worry about the clothes or food, for their God will take care of them and provide when asked. However, it is not said, that the Christians should not work, or try to provide for themselves. The notion of being worried is referred to how they feel, rather than what they should do. While it may seem unusual, it carries more benefit for the Empire, than it may seem. A subject, worried about the food on his table, may take whatever means necessary to provide for him and his family including robbery and murder. However, a Christian will not go that far, because he is not worried about lacking and certain his God will provide.
As for the public interrogations, I believe this publicity will only increase the popularity of the cult. Their teaching often speaks about the life after their death, thus whatever actions they take during their life, will influence if they go to Heaven, where eternal living and joy for all Christians. And their prophet, Christ, emphasized, that suffering during their mortal life is the test they should pass in order to reach Heaven. Insults and tortures only increase their chances of getting to Heaven. Thus, as odd as it may seem, they are seeking opportunities to suffer and withstand the torture. The Empire providing them this opportunity would give a favor, rather than restrain this cult from spreading.
Instead, the Empire could tolerate the cult under certain conditions due to some of the beneficial principles this cult has. It seems their beliefs are based on certain rules, they are not allowed to break. Stealing, murder, accusation, judging, adultery, giving empty oath are among the sins they should not commit in order to get to Heaven. These are the same rules the Empire has established with military might to bring the order to barbarian’s lands. However, in this case, instead of spending the Empire’s funds and deploy our troops, the Christians’ fear before their God’s wrath could control our rule just as well. We will use their rules to the Empire’s benefit.
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My Emperor Diocletian, the senator is suggesting making Christianity an exception, for no other cult, but the true cult of the Gods had the right to exist in the Empire. It will not look good when the Empire lets some cult overthrow true religion and replace our beautiful customs with barbaric nonsense. Tolerating Christianity is risky, as it will show the Empire too soft and tempt our enemies to try the softness on our borders. Instead, we must cut this rotten stem at its root; otherwise, it will infect the whole tree.
Public interrogations and executions may be desirable for existing Christians due to their superstitious beliefs after death; however, it will restrain the subjects, who have not fallen under this cult to join it. We must act before the cult becomes too powerful and numerous, in which case the Empire’s might should be fully devoted to solving the issue of the cult, rather than expanding the borders and bring civilization to barbarous lands. The subjects should understand that Christianity is harmful to them, along with their ideas. Soon they will start questioning our way of living, and mark us as unworthy for we are not living their rules.
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My Emperor Diocletian, the senator is worried about the expansion of Christianity, as it may weaken the Empire in the eyes of our neighbors. I am speaking about Christianity that will strengthen the Empire. The principles of Christianity remind the law of the Empire with some differences. The followers will follow these rules as long as they are allowed to conduct their humble rituals in privacy. If the Emperor shows mercy to them, other barbarians may hear about such generosity and come to our land, and voluntarily become the Roman subjects. The Empire will set the conditions, under which the Christians may follow their cult and conduct their rituals: paying taxes, not trying to convert anyone else, and stay within the territory we give them, will ensure they have everything to practice their beliefs, yet not threatening the greatness of the Empire.