The following is an excerpt from Early Christian Martyr Stories, by Bryan Litfin.
When I, Constantine Augustus, as well as I, Licinius Augustus, met on a happy occasion at Milan, we took the opportunity to consider everything that related to the public’s best interest and security. We thought that, among the many things we perceived would be profitable for the majority of the people, the first order of business was to secure proper reverence for the Divinity. Thus, we granted to Christians and everyone else the freedom to follow the religion each one preferred, so that whatever Divinity is seated in heaven might be favorable and well disposed toward us and to all who have been placed under our rule.
In light of this beneficial strategy and completely logical way of thinking, we judged it appropriate that absolutely no one should be denied the right to devote himself to the observance of the Christian faith or to whatever religion he might deem most fitting. Thus, the supreme Divinity, whose religion we follow with free minds, may be inclined to show to us his usual favor and benevolence in every way.
Therefore we wish your eminence to know it has pleased us to cancel every one of the regulations about the Christian faith formerly sent to your office in various letters. Now anyone who has the desire to observe the religion of the Christians should hasten to do so freely and openly without any disturbance or molestation.
We thought this should be commended to your care with utmost clarity, so you might know we have granted to those Christians an unhindered and unconditional right to practice their religion. And when you see we have awarded them this freedom, your eminence will understand that others too have been given the same open and unrestricted right of religious observance, as is fitting in our peaceful times. Thus, every person shall have free opportunity to engage in whatever religion he has chosen. We have decreed this so it won’t seem like we have discriminated against any form of worship or religion.
©2014 by Bryan M. Litfin. Published by Baker Academic. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.
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