When we move from Buddhism as protest to Buddhism in power, we realize that there were good and bad Buddhist kingdoms in the past. But the one that stands out is the rule of Asoka. He made loving-kindness one of the essential attributes of Buddhism, the basis of his just and enlightened governance. His generosity towards the poor and his myriad deeds of charity are legendary. Asoka also adopted an accommodative and tolerant attitude towards the different religious sects that comprised his kingdom. As is well known, he renounced violence and war and committed himself to peace as the primary goal of the state.
Early Christian communities around the Mediterranean reflected some of the values associated with Jesus’ mission. According to some sources, these communities were extraordinarily egalitarian and had neither slaves nor servants. However, after Christianity was absorbed by the Roman Empire and became its official religion in the time of the Emperor Constantine, it assumed the characteristics of empire --- of dominant power and control over peoples and cultures. Constantinian Christianity eventually became the ideological inspiration for the crusades and for the colonization of foreign territories....
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