One cause of persecution is pride. When the light comes, people realize they are wrong; but because of their pride, they don't want to admit they have been in darkness.

Those who have been blinded by the god of this world (the devil) are not guilty of spiritual pride because they have not chose of their own will to remain in darkness. It's just that they have never been enlightened.

In John 9 Jesus said:
"For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind."

And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, "Are we blind also?"

Jesus said unto them, "If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth."
(John 9:39-41)
These Pharisees did not want to admit that they had been in the dark because it would have been an embarrassment to them. It would have hurt their pride.

After all, they were the religious leaders of the day! They would rather stay in darkness than come to the light and admit that they had been wrong. They would rather persecute Jesus and kill Him (put out the Light) than change.

Not long ago, I heard an evangelist tell a story about the pastor of a church in which he had preached the Word for a week. Before the evangelist left that church, the pastor said to him, "I recognize that what you have been preaching is the truth; but I'd rather die than admit I've been wrong all these years."

Shortly thereafter, that man fell dead in his pulpit. Why? Because of pride. The light came and the darkness of religious doctrine was exposed, but pride would not let him admit that he had been wrong.

Source: Understanding Persecution by Annette Capps
Excerpt permission granted by Harrison House Publishers