I’m reading Charles Freeman’s AD 381.
This sounded familiar already; it’s only page 2.
Theodosius was not himself a fanatical Christian, and despite the harshness of the language in which his decrees were expressed, he showed some restraint and flexibility in the way he applied them. In a vast and administratively unwieldy empire, any law lost its impact as it filtered down into the provinces, and some may never have been systematically enforced. However, this worked both ways – a law might be ignored, or it might be imposed with brutality by a local enthusiast.
Ahhh yes – that does sound familiar. It sounds exactly like Pakistan. It sounds exactly like a lot of places. There is never any shortage of local enthusiasts.