Last week, the National Prayer Breakfast was held in Washington D.C. In light of recent atrocities committed by ISIS, Obama discussed religious violence. He scolded, “lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.”
The fatuous ignorance of these statements is almost beyond measure. Just when I think the Left can’t get any more insufferable, they reach new heights, or depths, of insufferableness. Let me try to clear things up.
First, it is true that (as one liberal journalist as pointed out) Jim Crow and American slavery were partially defended using Christian verbiage and even citations from the Bible. It is also true that purported Christians committed ghastly deeds during the Crusades, notably the killing of Jews in the Rhine Valley and the Sacking of Constantinople during the First and Fourth Crusades, respectively. The barbarism of the Inquisition was also committed by Christians.
No honest Christian denies these things. But what remains to be asked is whether Christianity’s founder commanded them.
Nowhere in the New Testament is violence against non-Christians justified on the grounds that they are non-Christians. Rather, Christ commanded Christians to live in love and peace with each other, to “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s,” and not to foment insurrection. The Apostle Paul even taught Christians to “pray for Caesar, live in peace with all men.” He further commanded a Roman slave owner, Philemon, to treat a Christian slave as a brother. These passages would serve to inspire Christians to live in peace within the Roman Empire, even while serving as soldiers in the legions. Christianity would also begin the slow process of abolishing slavery by using the following logic: if a Christian slave is my brother in Christ, how can I keep him as property or deny him Communion?
Though many popular views of the Crusades see the events as entirely barbaric based on the bad examples noted above, many scholars argue that the Crusades were overall a defensive rather than offensive effort. Eminent Middle Eastern scholar Bernard Lewis has written that “The Crusades could more accurately be described as a limited, belated and, in the last analysis, ineffectual response to the jihad–a failed attempt to recover by a Christian holy war what had been lost to a Muslim holy war.” Sociologist of religion Rodney Stark has also shown that the Crusades were not a violent effort of colonialist expansion, but a defensive war.
Dr. Ben Carson, in a response to Obama’s speech, noted that the President has tried to justify the evil deeds of Muslims by pointing to the evils committed by Christians. This is certainly true. By placing Christian misdeeds and Muslim misdeeds on a ground of moral equivalence, our President is granting a marginal justification to the deeds of ISIS. He has also given ammunition to Muslims, who can now say “Yes, we commit Jihad, but you committed the Crusades!”
The Progressive finger was wagged at us again, as Obama lectured America upon its need for “humility” in our religious convictions, he reminded us that “the starting point of faith is some doubt–not being so full of yourself and so confident that you are right and that God speaks only to us, and doesn’t speak to others, that God only cares about us and doesn’t care about others, that somehow we alone are in possession of the truth.”
Humility, that great virtue, has been forgotten in America. We seemingly cannot get enough of idolizing our leaders, and humility is not a quality we search for in our officials anymore. We may dislike presidential ambition, but we can’t seem to do without it. Without humility, what need is there for any real knowledge of history? Why can’t our President simply repeat tired myths of politically correct history?
This would be a well-stated piece of truth, were it not spoken by a man who thinks himself the oracle of truth and wisdom. Our President preaches humility for the faith of Christians, but has no doubts about his faith in himself and his own intellect. Neither do his acolytes, who have praised him as being smarter than all his advisers combined.
The President, in effect, used the National Prayer Breakfast speech in his ongoing mission of political opportunism. Rather than make a strong statement condemning ISIS’s barbarism, he chose to morally equivocate their horrendous deeds with a wrong image of Christian history. If the global community is looking for a moral leader to push back against Islamic extremism, Barack Obama just ruled himself out as a candidate.