Anna Su

Document Type




Understanding the terms under which Christianity and paganism could coexist in antiquity thus gives us a semblance of an answer to the question posed early on in the book. In ancient Rome, Pliny asks why Christians were being subjected to legal sanctions, while in our present time, Douglas Laycock asks why people—referring to same-sex couples suing wedding photographers, florists, and bakers who object on religious grounds to their union—would insist on these services they neither need nor want? The paganism of ancient Rome welcomed a plurality of cults and religions but only up to a certain point. When Christians insisted that their God was the one true God and all other deities were false ones, for instance, it immediately became apparent that toleration had its limits. Similarly today, Smith argues that devout citizens that hold on to strong versions of Christianity and other truth-oriented faiths are a “foreign and divisive element” in the city of modern paganism, where they are expected to cabin their religious beliefs in the private sphere. A partial answer then, it seems, is that whoever is the momentary victor between the two in a centuries-long struggle—in our current moment, it certainly appears that modern paganism is winning—there is not a lot of room for the other.


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