When Christianity was brought to power, those in authority have sought to expand and control the church, often through the fanatical use of force.
Grant Shafer says, “Jesus of Nazareth is best known as a preacher of nonviolence. Yet Christians, in persecutions of other religions, in wars about religion, and in wars of conquest, have perhaps been more violent than members of any other religion except Islam”.
The start of Christian fanatic rule came with the Roman Emperor Constantine I. “When Christianity came to power in the empire of Constantine, it proceeded almost to viciously repress all non-Christians and all Christians who did not line up with official Orthodox ideology, policy, and practice”.
An example of Christians who didn’t line up with Orthodox ideology is the Donatists, who “refused to accept repentant clergy who had formerly given way to apostasy when persecuted”. Fanatic Christian activity continued into the Middle Ages with the Crusades. These wars were attempts by the Christians, sanctioned by the Pope, to reclaim the Holy Land from the Muslims.
Charles Selengut, in his book Sacred Fury: Understanding Religious Violence, said:
The Crusades . . . were very much holy wars waged to maintain Christianity’s theological and social control . . . . On their way to conquering the Holy Land from the Muslims by force of arms, the crusaders destroyed dozens of Jewish communities and killed thousands because the Jews would not accept the Christian faith. Jews had to be killed in the religious campaign because their very existence challenged the sole truth espoused by the Christian Church.
Shafer adds that, “When the crusaders captured Jerusalem in 1099, they killed Muslims, Jews, and native Christians indiscriminately”.