In a recent commentary on the book "The Christians as Romans Saw Them", Professor David Gushee (Mercer University) says, "Christianity was persecuted not because most Roman leaders couldn't handle religious diversity, but because they could not accept a kind of diversity that taught people to detach from primary loyalty to the Empire, its sponsoring deities and its way of life. ... Christians will always feel both internal and external pressures to resort to nationalized religion, and this corrupted form of the faith is the version most prevalent in the United States."
Another tidbit: Romans viewed Christianity as an apostasy of Judaism.
After reading the commentary, I wonder if we Christians are not getting really good at persecuting others. We have denominations or even parts of denominations that want to legislate their personal views on society as a whole. We make assumptions that we "know all" about God's Word. Of course we also insist that the particular copy of a particular Bible translation we use is the only accurate one and that we thoroughly understand exactly what every passage meant both to the people of the day as well as to us today. Then we seek to implement our own personal beliefs through local state and national legislation.
It's much too easy for such actions to amount to persecution. And it's the result of people trying to nationalize their religion. The commentary (and the book it pertains to) give much food for thought.
- Read more of the commentary, Opinion: The Christians as the Romans Saw Them