Monday, August 15, 2005

Constantine, Emperor of 'Tolerance' — So Says the AP

A few days ago, I asked readers to contact the Associated Press and other media to tell them about a cartoon made by a government-funded organization that supported violence against Christians. Today, reader Colin O'Brien e-mailed me an example of why the AP and other media sorely need enlightenment about even the most basic facts of Christianity, religious history, and world history. It's a story about a statue of the Emperor Constantine that was recently found in Rome. The AP reporter writes:

During his reign, which lasted from 306 to 337, Constantine tried to stop the fracturing of the empire and sought to restore it to its ancient glory. Although not a Christian himself, he ended the frequent waves of anti-Christian persecutions by proclaiming religious freedom throughout his lands. He also moved the empire's capital to Constantinople—today's Istanbul—closer to the Eastern borders threatened by the barbarian invasions.
Leaving aside his deathbed conversion to Christianity, even secular accounts of Constantine's reign call him the leader who made Rome a Christian empire. He wasn't some great champion of "tolerance" who merely allowed Christianity to subsist as one equally valid vegetable in the great salad bowl of accepted religious traditions.