Would I be a martyr?
by: John Tyrrell
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Tomorrow (9 January) is a day some believers have set aside to commemorate the martyrdom of Raud the Strong.
Raud was an eleventh century village chieftain who resisted the conquest of his lands by a king from the south. After defeat and capture, he was given the option of converting to the religion of the conquering king. He refused, insisting on retaining his religion. He was brutally killed by having a snake forced down his throat.
A gruesome tale, like many of the tales told about Christian martyrs. But Raud is not counted among those numbers. Raud followed the old Norse gods and the religion he rejected was Christianity.
However, his cruel murderer, King Olaf Tryggvason, was subsequently sainted for Christianizing Norway. Raud's execution is indicative of how he achieved this feat.
Memory of Raud's martyrdom is kept alive today by some new age pagans and followers of Asatru. Most Christians would prefer to forget or ignore that this is one of the ways their religion was spread.
Thinking of those that are murdered due to a refusal of forced conversion, I sometimes wonder what I would do if placed in that situation.
Fortunately, living in a western democracy, my finding myself in such a position is highly unlikely. But still, as a thought experiment, what if?
I'm not convinced I'd be prepared to die for my disbelief. But I think I would be unable to make any statement submitting to a religion that engages in forced conversion. So the end result would be the same.
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