The third season of National Geographic's "The Story of God with Morgan Freeman" premiered earlier this month and the latest episode set out to understand why secrecy and religion are so often intertwined.
Unlike past episodes of the series, this episode did not feature much on Christianity; it focused more on cults, encoding the Torah in the practice of Kabbalah and the resurgence of Druids, among others. Freeman journeyed to see the mystery of ritual and how it brings people closer to the mystery of the divine.
The show's only mention of secrecy in Christianity was in Rome 361 to 363 AD when the people of the time accused an ancient “secret sect” of Christians of drinking blood and performing human sacrifices. The actor traveled to a hidden house under a basilica, located in Rome where the supposed sect hid out.
Those Christians practiced the Eucharist in secret and rumors began to spread by the Romans that those people were in the hidden house “practicing orgies” and “drinking actual blood.”
Emperor Julian despised Christ followers and those who were not meeting in secret, such as two men named John and Paul, became martyrs by the emperor's command. It wasn’t until the leader was killed and a new emperor was appointed that the tide began to change.
“It’s hard to believe that Christianity was once a small secret faith practiced in the shadows but secrecy actually gave Christianity strength,” Freeman said after his visit. “[Christian] followers venerated Jesus who died opposing Rome.”
“Oppression only fared the movement and once it was set free, it traveled to every corner of the globe,” the Academy Award-winning actor chuckled.
He went on to say that Christianity flourished after a few centuries of Roman suppression.
“If there were no mysteries to life, there would be no need for faith,” he maintained.
“Secrets protect people in times of oppression and keep them alive until their message can take root in fertile ground,” Freeman concluded. “We can never expect to know the mind of God but we can work to get closer to it.”
The full episode is now available to watch on National Geographic.
Season 3 of “Story of God with Morgan Freeman” features six episodes that “take viewers on an interfaith journey around the globe, traveling to 30 different cities of historical and anthropological importance, including Jerusalem, Kathmandu, Jericho, Rome, Bethlehem, Paris, Prague, Hanoi, Toronto and Lourdes.
"The series’ filmmakers met with 13 religious experts, eight priests, three druids, three shamans, one imam, one rabbi, one former executioner, one nun, two so-called 'living goddesses' and hundreds of monks," according to National Geographic. "The series interviews believers of many faiths including Christians, Jews, pagans, druids, Muslims, Hindus, Jains, animists, Buddhists and agnostics,” the show’s synopsis reads.