As the Romans were concerned there was no problem with believing in and following more than one religion that suited your specific needs. Usually the Roman authorities had no problem with the citizens following whichever religion they might choose, so long as it didn't go against the state's interests. “The Romans tolerated other religions as long as they did not threaten public order or public morals.” (First World Civilization, pg. 112) The citizens should pay due respects to the emperor's "genius" (spirit) in sign of loyalty and respect to the state. “We, also, are religious, and our religion is simple; and we swear by the genius (spirit) of our lord the emperor, and pray for his welfare, as you ought to do.” (Interrogation of Christians) The Christians, on the other hand, were not only a growing state within a state but they were following a law which was not Roman law. To make things worse their monotheist beliefs also prohibited them from paying their respects to the emperor-divinity! According to the non Christians, the Christians were capable of cannibalism (the Eucharist) and incest (they called each other "brothers" and "sisters"). “They lick up its blood; eagerly they divide its limbs. By this victim they are pledged together, with this consciousness of wickedness they are covenanted to mutual silence.” (The Ritual of Cannibalism) The Romans didn’t understand the Christian’s practices and outcast them. It wasn’t until they realized that their religion went against the state that they started to persecute them.
At one time a common religion was a huge factor that kept Romans united. Once the right of free worship was denied Rome became an empire of raging anger. Christianity a new religion appealed to the majority of the people of the Roman Empire. The message especially appealed to the poor and the slaves; it was also something new to put their faith in. Christianity was spread like wild fire. The Roman emperors felt that Christianity was so influential that it could be a possible threat. Many of the Romans had already committed to the faith of Christianity and they refused to abandon it because it was the most important part of their life. This led to many social problems as well as a decline in the patriotism that had once lived in the hearts of all Romans. The People objected to Roman politics and became independent of the government.
Persecution of the Christians by the Romans was due to their perceived antisocial beliefs and the threat these caused to the stability of the Empire. The way in which these beliefs contradicted the Roman way of life at the time, infuriated the people. The Romans believed in a plethora of gods, constantly adopting more from surrounding cultures in order to aid assimilation of new cults. It was believed that the gods determined everything and if upset they would have the ability to devastate the Empire. Therefore, Pax Deorum, maintaining this peace with the gods, was an integral part of the Roman lifestyle as it could make or break the Empire. Every god and Emperor had to be acknowledged and provided for. Upon death the Emperor too would elevate to the position of a god. In contrast the Christians acknowledged one almighty God