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In popular culture Christians were being killed in the Colosseum because they did not want to accept the Emperor as a god. An example can be Quo vadis novel by Henryk Sienkiewicz, who won the Nobel Prize for this. The Colosseum is Catholic sacred place, however not because it was used to kill Christians, but because many people died there.

The Jews for example had never accepted Caesar to be a god and nothing happened. The Greeks had their own Pantheon, very similar, however different.

How (in reality) did Roman Empire treat people who did not want to accept Roman gods? Were they killed or punished (eg. with a fine)? Or it was just not important to anyone?

In Wikipedia an article (with a "citation needed" remark) states:

In western Classical Antiquity, theism was the fundamental belief that supported the divine right of the state (Polis, later the Roman Empire). Historically, any person who did not believe in any deity supported by the state was fair game to accusations of atheism, a capital crime. (...). Christians in Rome were also considered subversive to the state religion and persecuted as atheists

(but maybe atheism was something worse than believing in just other religion)

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"The Jews for example had never accepted Caesar to be a god and nothing happened." Apart from Masada. –  Mark C. Wallace Oct 10 '13 at 11:25
    
Also note, although I don't have any citation for this, that prosecution of such offenses was highly discretionary. There were plenty of things that were illegal, but were ignored unless some official wanted to score points with his patron, or was in a bad mood. –  Mark C. Wallace Oct 10 '13 at 12:15
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You may also want to bound the time. Life was different under Augustus than under Diocletian (who if I recall, required worship of himself as a living god), than under Caracalla. –  Mark C. Wallace Oct 10 '13 at 12:16
    
I've removed Greek references. I'd wish answers would deal with particular Emperors' eras. –  Voitcus Oct 10 '13 at 12:56
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Again without citation, remember that until the 17th century most states had a state religion, and to refuse to participate in the state religion was tantamount to refusing to participate in the state. That is a very suspicious activity that borders on treason. Combine that with the fact that the Roman state religion asked for very little (a pinch of incense); refusing that participation was very suspicious. –  Mark C. Wallace Oct 10 '13 at 16:35
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1 Answer

Romans never believed the emperor to be god. This is a popular misconception. The emperors could be declared divine (divinus) by the senate (god-like), which is not the same as being a god (divus).

At the same time there was a cult of the emperor's genius: the Romans believed that each person had a supernatural protector (genius), similar to Christian concept of guardian angel. As such, there were temples, dedicated to geniuses of particular emperors and their family. Venerating them would show the loyalty of a person, while refusing to do so would mean the refusing person does not wish good to the person whose genius is venerated.

There was an exception made specifically to Jews, which was a result of harsh contention. Jews had to prove that by refusing venerating the geniuses they still remained loyal to the emperors and did not bring misfortunes to them. I think they were required to make other contributions to the success of the emperor, not prohibited by their religion, such as praying for his health and achievements in their temple.

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Good answer +1. but there is an important addition to be made: the fine distinction between divinus and divus was more often than not lost on the less Latinized people of the Eastern provinces - so they often thought of the emperor as simply divine, and the imperial government while not quite encouraging this misunderstanding, certainly did nothing to dispel it. –  Felix Goldberg Oct 11 '13 at 7:48
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