- "The more the early Christians reflected on the life and message of their rabbi-messiah, and the more they tried to live the way of the gospel, the harder they collided with the state and its hopes and dreams, militaries and markets. In fact, Christians in those first few hundred years were called atheists because they no longer believed in the Roman gospel; they no longer had any faith in the state as savior of the world." 
Early Christians Were Atheists - 30 min
The first Christians were labelled atheists because they did not worship the visible gods of Rome, i.e., the emperors and judges. There are gods many... After all what do you think the Romans and Greeks were doing in their Temples where the business of government took place?
So what we have today are false Christians and false atheists fighting with each other while both groups obliviously worship/serve/honor/obey/elect the "gods many" in their governments of coercion. True Christians and true atheists happily co-exist while striving for a government based on respecting each other's liberty. They are generally called Libertarians or Anarchists today. On the other hand, the "worship" of current false Christians and false atheists is based upon coveting their neighbor's goods. They elect "gods many" to force their neighbors to pay for their child's education [public school], to finance their retirement [social security], to keep records of birth, marriage, land ownership, etc. So if your neighbor refuses this form of worship and does not pay for your things, your "gods many" will take away their property and imprison them on your behalf.
Those who are called Christians today would have been called Pharisees 2000 years ago and would crucify Jesus now just like they did then. (What! This Jesus character is suggesting his followers run a nation based on freewill offerings with ministers (government officials) who have no authority! That's not patriotic. Crucify him!)
Those who label themselves atheists today would have enjoyed Jesus' teaching against state religion. Religion is simply society's social welfare safety net. Religion is mentioned five times in the bible and only once in a positive light when it indicates that PURE religion is taking care of the needy without centralized government...
True Christians and true atheists are seen by their fruits...they have no need of centralized governments because they already have decentralized systems in place.
Both groups would do well to study the Essenes to understand what the term "Christian" really meant 2000 years ago.
Atheists are very religious people if you define religion as "what you think about a supreme being" which some dictionaries suggest. However at the same time even if you use the old definition found in Bouviers Law Dictionary . Piety was defined as the duty to your Father and Mother and through them to others with in your community.
In other words Religion used to simply be how a nation, a people, or a society took care of its needy, with its social welfare, within their society, and the gods of those societies were the men in charge of making sure everyone gave their fair share and got their fair share. These gods were the men or women who meted out social justice.
Most modern Atheists are still socialist today. They depend on the gods of government to collect the sacrifices of the people on civil altars and redistribute those offerings in what used to be called Corban. Often the ruler chose or at least oversaw the appointment of these authoritarian ministers of society and were given titles like Apotheos or even Father.
Because these man made gods were Benefactors who exercised authority one over the other, their systems of sacrifice or Corban were not Freewill offerings but forced. This is what the God of heaven said through Moses and Christ, we are to love your neighbor as yourself. This covetous practice of compelled offerings made the word of God to none effect.
This is why many socialists do not want any moral criteria to getting benefits from their benefactors. They want entitlements no matter if they are moral or not. In fact one of the great attractions to being an atheist is that there is little or no moral accountability.
- Jesus for President Pack: Politics for Ordinary Radicals; Shane Claiborne; Section III: When the Empire Got Baptized; p141.
- “Real piety in practice, consisting in the performance of all known duties to God and our fellow men”
- Judges 10:14 Go and cry unto the gods which ye have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your tribulation.
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"The conflict between Christians and the people who persecuted them in the early days of the Church was mostly over their system of social welfare which was managed through their temples like Ephesus, Temple of Saturn and the Parthenon." Read more. and discover the iconoclastic answer to the question Are Christians Idiots?