The Great Fire of Rome and Its Aftermath
In July of 64AD, a great fire swept through the city of Rome, starting in the merchant shops (likely a bakery) near the Circus Maximus and burning for over a week. The city’s wooden houses and shacks were no match for the flames, and when it was finally tamed, two-thirds of the city had been destroyed.
Roman historian Tacitus wrote that the emperor of the time, Nero, was at Antium on the coast when the fire began. Rumors spread that while the fire raged, Nero had been seen on a stage in a private home, singing of the fall of Troy, and thus the saying “Fiddling while Rome burns” was born.
Many believed that Nero had deliberately started the fire so he could rebuild Rome and name it after himself. Tacitus reported that Nero was so disturbed by the rumors that he blamed the Christians as scapegoats and began the empire’s first persecution against them. Christians were seized, tortured, and killed in various ways.
Not Really Connected to Christianity
On Feb. 16, Queensland Police Deputy Commissioner Tracy Linford declared that the deadly ambush that led to the execution-style murders of two police officers and a civilian on a remote property last December was an act of domestic terrorism linked to the Christian fundamentalist belief system known as pre-millennialism. Linford added that the three Train family members who perpetrated the shooting were an “autonomous cell” that was “religiously motivated.”
However, there is a severe lack of understanding of the fundamental tenets of Christianity in this analysis. The Fifth Commandment states “Thou shalt not kill,” and Jesus Christ taught to love thy neighbor as thyself and to turn the other cheek. Even as he was being crucified, Christ said, “Forgive them, Father; they know not what they do.” What happened at Wieambilla is nothing like core Christian beliefs.
Christians believe that, at the end of time, Christ will come again and undertake the final and eternal judgment of all humanity. This idea, known as premillennialism, is an interpretation of Christ’s return and is reminiscent of many death cults, which are the antithesis of the Christian message.
Sadly, the police hypotheses are a reflection of the constant attack on Christians in our culture. Just last month, the editor-in-chief of the West Australian newspaper, Anthony De Ceglie, described Christians in the Liberal Party as “bible-bashers and happy clappers, increasingly out of touch with secular, modern Australia.”
Fringe Extremists Don’t Represent Christianity as a Whole
Late last year, the Australian Christian Lobby was listed among 20 groups identified as far-right hate and extremism groups in a report by the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism. Then, a bombshell FBI memo was released by whistleblower Kyle Seraphin, which sparked outrage among Catholics and other groups concerned about religious freedom.
The report, written by an FBI analyst in Richmond, Virginia, is titled “Interest of Racially or Ethnically Motivated Violent Extremists in Radical-Traditionalist Catholic Ideology Almost Certainly Presents New Mitigation Opportunities.” It stated that “Radical Traditionalist Catholic Ideology” is a magnet for “violent extremists.” The memo mentioned the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter, a religious order which celebrates the traditional form of the Catholic Mass.
As reported in LifeSite News, the Catholic Bishop of Richmond, Barry Knestout, blasted the FBI in a statement. “The leaked document should be troubling and offensive to all communities of faith, as well as all Americans,” Knestout declared. “[If] evidence of extremism exists, it should be rooted out, but not at the expense of religious freedom. A preference for traditional forms of worship and holding close to the Church’s teachings on marriage, family, human sexuality, and the dignity of the human person does not equate with extremism.”
The actions of a few should not be used to demonise Christianity generally. Remember how, in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, seemingly every politician reassured us that we should not tar all followers of Islam with the same extremist brush? ASIO Chief Mike Burgess, in March 2021, advised that the agency would no longer refer to “Islamic terrorism.”
Why, then, can’t the same approach be applied to Christians, especially since attacks by followers of Islam continue with alacrity across Europe, and Nigeria, on Christians and their churches?
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.