Christian Persecution Under Emperor Decius (249-251)
Decius ruled as emperor for around three years, from 249 to 251. Believing that the polytheism of the Roman empire was in decline, he became alarmed by the fast growth and expansion of the early church in Asia Minor (modern Turkey).
In response, Decius made emperor worship mandatory throughout the Roman empire; the single exemption was the Jews. People were required to go to emperor temples in chosen cities and burn a pinch of incense declaring, “Caesar is Lord!” After doing this, they were given a “Certificate of Sacrifice” and cleared of any suspicion of undermining the Roman empire.
Thousands of Christians were martyred for refusing to worship emperors and pagan gods. Decius died in 251.