from: How Christianity Grew Out of Paganism, Joseph McCabe [1867 - 1955], See Sharp Press, 1998 (1943).
"This pamphlet was originally published in 1943 by the Haldeman-Julius Co. as part of Little Blue Book #1775. It is not copyrighted. Please feel free to reproduce it.
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During its day, the original publisher of this pamphlet, the Haldeman-Julius Company of Girard, Kansas, was the most important publisher of radical materials in the United States. From the founding of his company in 1919 until his early death in 1951, E. Haldeman-Julius published more than 2500 books and pamphlets.
One of Haldeman-Julius's most important and most prolific writers was Joseph McCabe, the author of this pamphlet. In regard to Christianity and, especially, Catholicism, McCabe was perhaps the most learned atheist writer who ever lived. This was a result of his native gifts and his background--he was a former Catholic priest, fluent in Latin and several other languages, who had taught philosophy and ecclesiastical history in a Catholic college. During his lifetime (18671956) he translated dozens of books and wrote hundreds of his own books and pamphlets, all on various aspects of history, and a great many on religious topics. Perhaps his most important work was A Rationalist Encyclopedia [Encyclopaedia], published just after World War II , and of which he was editor. [see #8, 215]
How Christianity Grew Out of Paganism appeared in 1943....
--Chaz Bufe, May 12, 1998".
'A learned man arose in the Christian Roman community--the only one in six or seven centuries--and, as he is a "saint" in the Roman calendar, we must read with him respect. In his Refutation of all Heresies, this Hippolytus [c. 170 - c. 236 (St.)] has a few chatty pages about the life of the Roman Christians. Pope Victor [Pope 189 - 198], the first pope who tried to be papal and got very nastily rapped on the knuckles by the other bishops, was, it seems, a friend of a lady named Marcia, who lived in the Emperor Commodus's [Emperor 180 - 192 (161 - 192)] palace. Not to put too fine a point on it, Marcia was the lewdest concubine in the spacious harem (which also
included 300 handsome boys) of Commodus, who could have given lessons to Nero [Emperor 54 - 68 (37 - 68)] in sex matters. However Marcia and her friend and tutor in vice, Hyacinth, who is claimed to have been a Christian, got many favors for the Christians when Pope Victor went for tea or something in the palace.
Hippolytus broadens the picture. One of the rich Christians directs his Christian slave Callistus to open a bank in the city, and the faithful, although the Christian code declared all interest on money to be usury and a mortal sin, all rushed to put their money in it and make a bit. Callistus [d. c. 222 (Bishop of Rome (Pope) from c. 217)] embezzled the lot and went to jail, and a few years later he became Pope and applied his talents to the humanization (and enrichment) of the Church. It was, he said, time they abolished this musty old idea that if a Christian sinned after baptism he or she must be expelled and considered damned forever. He and his priests could forgive sins, he said. So by this and other humane measures he opened the door of the church to rich Roman women, and they brought in a good many things besides money. In fact, anybody who represents the Roman community after this time as an oasis of virtue in a desert of sin ought to be on the staff of a Ministry of Information.
Documents of the 3rd century show that the dry rot spread quickly and very thoroughly to the whole Church. About the middle of the century, St. Cyprian [d. 258], a very stern man, was leader of the African Church, and his letters to the pope describe how a large part of his clergy and bishops were unmitigated scoundrels: fornication, murder, embezzlement, and all the rest of it. For the Spanish Church, we have, about the end of the century ("3rd century"), the canons, and, my word, the women were as gay as the cigar-girls of modern Seville. For the East, we have a letter (in Bishop Eusebius's [Eusebius c. 260 - c. 340] History) of the bishop of the place describing the behavior by the Christians of Alexandria when the general persecution opened. With mordant irony, the bishop describes how, when his Christians were summoned to the tribunal, they provoked the jeers of the crowd by nervously disowning the faith. Of course the bishop himself, being a very necessary person, had had to avoid martyrdom.
THIS QUESTION OF MARTYRDOMS GIVES YOU A GENERAL INDICATION OF THE CHARACTER OF THE CHRISTIANS OF THE 3RD CENTURY, when the only two [Decian. Diocletian.] real general persecutions of Christians occurred, AND AT THE SAME TIME GIVES YOU THE MEASURE OF THE FAIRY TALES THAT ARE STILL TOLD ABOUT THE EARLY CHURCH--told, that is to say, to the people and cherished by politicians, and editorial writers, though Catholic scholars who have specialized in martyr literature (the Jesuit Father Delehaye, the Austrian Professor Ehrhard, Bishop Gregg, etc.) have to admit that IT IS THE FINEST COLLECTION OF FORGERIES THAT WE HAVE. For instance, Catholic historians claim that by the middle of the 3rd century, when the Decian Persecution occurred, the Roman Christians, numbered about 30,000 or more. But in his special study of this persecution, Bishop Gregg finds that only HALF A DOZEN of them won the golden crown of martyrdom. Of about 150 priests and clerics of the Church, only six were arrested. And in the next and greatest general persecution, under Diocletian, the Catholic historian DUCHESNE CAN FIND ONLY A SCORE  OF GENUINE MARTYRDOMS IN THE WHOLE CHURCH, AND ONLY TWO OF THESE WERE AT ROME.
The African very orthodox Bishop Optatus [fl. 370] has a pleasant little story about what happened in his History of the Donetist Schism (of the 4th century). A bunch of the African bishops met to discuss the appalling general apostasy of their Christians when the persecution was over. They fell to violent quarreling and it transpired that they had all dodged the golden crown. One had presumably with a wink at the presiding pagan official who was bribed, handed in a medical work pretending that it was the Bible. Another of the bishops was accused by his brothers in Christ of murders. "Yes," he said--and Optatus is copying a stenographic report of the proceedings, "I did, and I'll knock off anybody who gets in my way." In short, modern experts on this literature find that only a few dozen of the supposed "acts" (accounts of trial and execution) of the martyrs are not blatant forgeries, and beyond these we just have the vague reports of local bishops that a number of the more sealous of their people--generally enthusiasts who regarded martyrdom as a sure ticket to paradise--were executed. DELEHAYE HAS SHOWN IN A SPECIAL STUDY THAT ALL STORIES OF CHRISTIANS BEING EXPOSED TO LIONS IN THE ROMAN AMPHITHEATER [COLOSSEUM] [see #6, 170] (which so moved Mr. G.B. Shaw that he based a play on them) ARE BOGUS. Of three generations of Christians in the 3rd century--certainly at least six or seven millions--only a hundred or two did not deny the faith or take to flight; and the learned ORIGEN [c. 185 - c. 224] HIMSELF SAYS THAT FOR THE FIRST TWO CENTURIES YOU COULD COUNT THE MARTYRS ON YOUR FINGERS.
That will give you some idea of the COLOSSAL FABRICATION of the early Middle Ages on which the first part of the myth of our Christian civilization--the character of the early Church--is based. Naturally the corruption deepened when, after the conversion [?] of the Emperor Constantine [Emperor 306 (312) - 337], the Church became rich. THE LEGEND is that the Christians were now able to build churches in Rome and attract the pagans by their virtuous lives. Let me state, very briefly, three notorious facts.
In the year 366 there was an election for the Papacy, which was now very rich. The successful candidate was "St." Damasus, and his methods were such that IN ONE DAY HIS [Damasus] MEN LEFT THE CORPSES OF 160 OF HIS RIVAL'S SUPPORTERS ON THE FLOOR OF A SMALL CHURCH [see 929]. The war lasted a week and was so furious that the Roman "police" were swept aside and the prefect driven out of the city. The second fact is that St. Jerome [c. 342 - 420], who then lived in Rome as a sort of secretary to Pope Damasus [Pope 366 - 384 (c. 304 - 384)], has left us a large number of letters in which he describes the character of the Christians of Rome. In almost incredible language, he insists that clergy, monks, consecrated virgins, widows, etc., are monstrously and, with very few exceptions, comprehensively corrupt. "St." Damasus himself was denounced by his priests to the civil power for adultery, and was only saved by the emperor. And the third undisputed fact is that there was no "attraction" of the pagans at all. IN THE EXTANT THEODOSIAN CODE [see #10, 226-233; etc.] WE HAVE TEN DECREES WHICH THE BISHOPS GOT FROM THE EMPERORS SUPPRESSING ALL RIVAL RELIGIONS AND SECTS UNDER PAIN OF FINE, IMPRISONMENT, OR DEATH.
The corruption of character was general in the Church. St. Augustine [354 - 430] in his sermons and letters describes it in North Africa, which was then more flourishing and populous than it now is. St. John Chrysostom [c. 347 - 407] in his sermons paints an equally dark picture of the people of Constantinople and Antioch. At Antioch, he says, there are 100,000 Christians but he doubts if 100 of them will ever see heaven. They laugh, he says, when he preaches on chastity. St. Gregory of Nyssa [c. 330 - c. 395] in two extant letters forbids Christian women of his diocese to make the pilgrimage to Jerusalem because it is, he says, a hotbed of crime and vice. And so on. THE CHRISTIAN WORLD WAS SINKING INTO THE DARK AGE in which not only all attempts at restoring the shattered Greek-Roman civilization were suspended for seven centuries, but Europe fell to a level which most historians describe as barbarism.
That is [but] part of the reply to those who glibly talk about our Christian civilization. In its primitive purity [?] CHRISTIANITY WAS, like Paul [see #4, 105-151; etc.] and (possibly) Jesus [see #3, 41-104; etc.], QUITE INDIFFERENT TO WHAT WE CALL CIVILIZATION.' [9-12] [End of essay].
from: Dictionary of Roman Religion, Lesley Adkins & Roy A. Adkins, Facts On File, 1996.
"mystery religions (or mysteries) Secret cults which required initiation for admission. Their teachings were supposed to illuminate the mystery of achieving immortality; the teachings themselves were kept as a mystery, to which the faithful were initiated. Mystery religions were brought to Rome from Greece and the east and included the ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES, MITHRAISM, ORPHISM and the cults of BACCHUS and MAGNA MATER. Mystery religions involved the participation of the individual, unlike the worship of the traditional Roman pagan gods. They involved initiation rites, purification, sacred symbols and rites, and a promise of a happy afterlife. CHRISTIANITY WAS REGARDED AS A MYSTERY RELIGION. Reading: Ferguson 1970, 99131; Hammond and Scullard (eds.) 1970, 716717." .
["church"] [photograph] 'Fig. 22 Haghia Eirene ("DIVINE PEACE" or St. Irene) in Istanbul, (Constantinople), Turkey. It was one of the first Christian sanctuaries in Byzantium, and the church was rebuilt and enlarged by Constantine the Great [Emperor 306 (312) - 337] or by his son Constantius [Constantius II 317 - 361 (Emperor 337 - 361) ("Second son of Constantine the Great")]. It was the center of dispute between Arians and orthodox supporters of the Nicene Creed, and 3,000 PEOPLE WERE KILLED IN THE COURTYARD IN A RELIGIOUS RIOT IN 346. The Second Ecumenical Council was held in the church in 381 [see #22, 446] and reaffirmed the Nicene Creed. The church was destroyed by fire in the Nika revolt in 532 and was rebuilt by Justinian.' .
[See (examples of early Christian violence (see: #23, 486 (Nietzsche); Appendix VIII, 795 (Hannay))): #22, 451; 927 (3 examples)].
"[Christian] Churches were usually oriented east-west, with the altar at east or west." . [See: Appendix IV, 748-749].
["sacrifice"] "Sacrifices tended to become an excuse for a good meal or feast, the
focus of a celebration, with the distribution of a meal afterwards." .