Christianity is a monotheistic religion centered on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as presented in the New Testament of the Bible. Christians believe Jesus to be the Son of God and the Jewish Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament.
For specific forms of Christianity, see:
- Eastern Orthodox Church
- Holy Mission Church (fictional, existing only in "Vermin")
- Mormon (full name: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints)
- New Revelation (fictional, existing only in In High Places)
A sizable number of Harry Turtledove's characters are, or have been, Christians. This article should focus on those works where Christianity is particularly pertinent to the plot (such as Thessalonica) or has been altered from OTL (such as In High Places).
Christianity in Alpha and Omega
Christianity in "Before the Beginning"
Even after Jesus was revealed by the time-viewer to be less than what the Bible made him out to be, Christianity continued on until Jacob Dreyfus discovered that the Jews were indeed God's chosen people. The Vatican became the first entity to convert en masse to Judaism, and most other people on Earth soon followed.
Christianity in "The Breaking of Nations"
Evangelical Christians had flocked to President Donald Trump's white supremacist nationalism, even though he himself was not a believer. His successor, Mike Pence was a believer, and relied heavily on his co-religionists in his base and in government to maintain power and systematically impose one-party rule in the United States. Franklin Graham became one of Pence's closest advisers. Non-Christians were subjected to increasing persecution.
Christianity in The Case of the Toxic Spell Dump
Christianity in Crosstime Traffic
Christianity in Gunpowder Empire
In its early centuries, the Roman Empire tried to destroy Christianity by executing many of its followers, with the Christians being adamantly opposed to all other religions of the Empire, refusing to take part in any religious ceremony even when paying for such defiance with their lives. Christians remained a minority in the Empire, never reaching a position of power to enforce the spread of their religion, as in the home timeline.
After several centuries, a modus vivendi was achieved whereby those who became known as Imperial Christians agreed to make an offering of incense (rather than an animal sacrifice) and make this offering for "The Spirit of the Emperor" without recognizing the Emperor's divinity or referring to any other deity.
An Imperial Christian moving to a new city was required by law to make such an offering, and had to pay for the handful of incense the full price of a sacrificial animal. Officials harboring anti-Christian prejudice often provided Imperial Christians performing this duty with an inferior quality incense, to punish them for their insincerity.
A more intransigent faction, calling themselves Hard Christians, refused to take part in such ceremonies and scorned the Imperial Christians for their willingness to compromise. The Imperial authorities did not actively persecute the Hard Christians, either, but such defiance could entail various disabilities in daily life.
The difference between the two kinds of Christians often overlapped with class differences: The Imperial Christians tended to be well-to-do merchants and artisans, whose business interests required being on reasonably good terms with the authorities, while the Hard Christians were often from the lower classes, in many cases slaves or former slaves.
For their part, the Imperial authorities persisted in regarding Jesus as one among the Empire's many gods, giving him a statue and a niche in official temples on an equal footing with the other deities. One artist came up with a mosaic which showed Jesus and Mithras as equal teammates in battle against a demon. Christians of all kinds resented this representation of Jesus, but were powerless to change it.
In the rival Empire of Lietuva, Christianity was not tolerated, the Lietuvan authorities greatly resenting the Christians' refusal to recognize Perkunas and proclaiming him a "false god". Lietuva was known among Christians as "the place where one can still become a martyr," which made it somewhat attractive to certain Christians.
Crosstime travelers who visited Agrippan Rome and studied its culture became interested in the differences between the Bible used by its Christians and the Bible of the home timeline. For example, in the Bible of Agrippan Rome there were only three Gospels, as the Book of John had never been written (and John the Apostle himself possibly never born); the Acts of the Apostles had the same name, but recorded quite different acts; and the Epistles of Paul included several addressed to churches in locations to which the Paul the Apostle never wrote in the home timeline. St. Jerome was never born in this alternate, so someone else had translated the Bible into Latin. Such differences provided scholars in the home timeline with material to embark on the new field of Comparative Crosstime Bible Studies.
Christianity in In High Places
Dumnorix was from an alternate in which Christianity seemingly never existed as he knew nothing of it.
The Klein family did Crosstime Traffic business in an alternate where the Great Black Deaths caused a drastically different form of Christianity to come about in the late 14th century: the Christians of this world believed that God had a second son named Henri, whom they regarded as a younger but more important brother of Jesus. Henri lived as a peasant in France during some of the worst plague years.
Christianity in "The Emperor's Return"
As the Ottoman Empire's armies overran Constantinople on 29 May 1453, the last Byzantine Emperor Constantine XI Palaiologos entered the Hagia Sophia and pleaded for a divine miracle: to be allowed to see the city in Christian hands again. With that, a mantle of flame bathed the emperor, and he sank into the marble floor before the eyes of the startled priest. Constantinople fell shortly afterwards.
The Last Emperor, Constantine, returned on 10 June 2003, three days after Istanbul was overrun by the forces of Greece and the Soviet Union. The city once again fell under Christian control. Ironically, Constantine was gunned down by Greek soldiers who found him at the Hagia Sophia.
Christianity in Household Gods
Living in Carnuntum, Roman Empire in AD 170, time traveler Nicole Gunther (alias Umma) found that Christians were a distrusted and feared minority group, who were regarded as if they were terrorists. Her encounter with a local Christian delinquent was quite unsettling, as the man spoke of a Christianity that was uncomfortably zealous and apocalyptic.
Nicole, a lapsed Catholic, was momentarily unsettled when she saw the icons of an Isis cult. They seemed to have plagiarized her fond childhood memories of Mary, Mother of Jesus, but Nicole quickly remembered that those representations of Mary had not yet come into being, and were likely imitations of Isis herself.
Christianity in "No Period"
A Jewish-American writer contemplated his failed first marriage, and wondered if it might have worked in some alternate timeline. After considering and discarding a number of possibilities, he considered the possibilities in a world where the Maccabees fell to the Seleucids. This would mean the end of Judiasm, and by extension, the pre-emption of Jesus and Christianity. That would mean he would have been a Zeus-worshipper rather than a Jew, and his ex-wife would have been a Wotan-worshipper than a Lutheran. Then he realized religion wasn't the problem between them, and that the substance of their real arguments would have been the same in this world.
Christianity in "Shock and Awe"
A collection of hill tribes in the east under the leader of a Jewish chieftain called the Son of God launched a brief uprising against the ruling Roman Empire. As his name implied, the Son believed that he and his men were guided by God. Despite some initial successes, the Romans finally sent an overwhelming force under the leadership of General Pontius Pilate and obliterated the Son's forces. The Son and his second "the Rock" were executed by crucifixion, and their movement withered away.
Christianity in Southern Victory
Both whites and blacks in the Confederate States were predominantly Christian but this common religion did not bring them close together and did not prevent Jake Featherston and his Freedom Party from perpetrating the mass murder of their black co-religionists. In fact, during the Second Great War, they on occasion made cynical use of blacks gathering in Church for Sunday prayers in order to arrest them en masse and send them to their deaths - as happened to Scipio, Bathsheba, and Antoinette.
Pope Pius XII in Rome did nothing for the Confederate Blacks as they went through the "Population Reduction" leading some to believe this was because the Blacks were, for the most part, not Catholic. However, this argument fell apart in light of Confederate brutality in occupied Haiti, about which the Pope did not do anything either.
Christianity in Thessalonica
At the time of the Slav and Avar siege of the city of Thessalonica, the Christian Church had no trouble convincing people of the veritable existence of its God and Saints. There was truly no place for atheists or skeptics when the Saints - and occasionally, God Himself - made obvious and unmistakable manifestations of their presence, often to large numbers of people at once. As was clear for all to see, prayers and other religious acts often had a direct and tangible result, being aimed at achieving a direct physical effect and often succeeding - especially when they were the prayers of a powerful cleric and/or the prayers of an entire congregation, aimed and focused by such a powerful cleric towards a specific aim. The religious blessing of a weapon could directly and perceptively increase the power of that specific weapon, and this effect was recognized by soldiers and taken into account in planning battles.
The problem for the Church was that various non-Christian deities, gods, demigods and other beings related to other systems of belief also manifested themselves, and just as clearly and unambiguously left no doubt about their own veritable existence. Christian clerics still asserted that their God was supreme and would inevitably win out in the end against all competitors. More bigoted Christian clerics such as Bishop Eusebius regarded all non-Christian beings as demons, to be fought, exorcised and extirpated as soon as possible. More broad-minded clerics such as Father Luke were ready to extend their Christian charity also to non-Christian beings such as centaurs and satyrs.
However, common people such as George the shoemaker entertained occasional doubts as to the certainty that the Christian God was truly superior to all rivals and that his eventual victory was assured. From what George could see, the Avar sorcerer involved in the siege of Thessalonica was roughly as powerful on the anti-Christian side as Bishop Eusebius on the Christian side, and every supernatural act taken by one side was effectively matched by the other. Even Thessalonica's final deliverance from the threatening siege was not purely due to the help of the Christian God and His Saints, but owed much to the intervention of the centaurs, surviving element of the ancient Greek pagan world displaced by Christianity.
That was less disturbing to the tolerant Father Luke than to the zealous Bishop Eusebius. Father Luke believed that centaurs and satyrs, too, had a role in God's plan for the world - and he also was secretly in love with a female Centaur, a love which had no chance of consummation even if Luke had not been sworn to celibacy and chastity.
Christianity in Through Darkest Europe
Christianity, particularly the Catholic variety, was generally regarded as the most problematic religion in the modern world.
Christianity in "Under St. Peter's"
The Order of the Pipistrelle guarded the truth about Christianity: Jesus has not died on the cross, but been transformed by a vampire in the moments before death. St. Peter and his confederates built what would later become the Vatican to keep the truth of the "resurrection" a secret. Jesus the vampire lived under the Basilica, a secret known only to the Order and the Popes, who customarily donated some of their blood to feed the vampire at the beginning of each papal reign. Jesus himself had long ago stopped caring whether he was truly God's son, and when questioned on this matter by the Pope, simply responded "You say it."
Christianity in Worldwar
Christianity, in the eyes of the Race, was simply one more Tosevite "superstition." The concept of God, whom Christians often imagined to be a large Big Ugly who lived in the sky, was considered the height of absurdity. In the 1960s, Christian churches in the Race's dominions, along with the "houses of superstition" of other faiths, became subject to a tax proposed by the psychologist Ttomalss. This levy was designed as a helpful nonviolent incentive to sway the Tosevites toward the one true religion.
- And the Last Trump Shall Sound, pg. 11, loc. 117, ebook.
- Ibid. pg. 15, loc. 170.