Dear President Obama,
I would like to address some of your comments at the 2015 National Prayer Breakfast. To your credit, you did mention ISIS as a group that uses “religion as a weapon.” It might have been more accurate to say they are 7th century savages who use 21st century weapons to distort a religion, but no matter.
Unfortunately, you then stated:
“And lest we get on our high horse [sic] 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 [sic] justified in the name of Christ.”
First, I find it offensive that you should presume to lecture Christians generally, and American Christians in particular, about the sins of our distant ancestors for the purpose of attenuating your own comments about ISIS, but I find it especially offensive that you should do so at the National Prayer Breakfast.
Second, this is the kind of adolescent sophistry taught by intellectually impoverished and ethically dishonest American radicals who hate America, men like your friend Jeremiah Wright. Instead of blaming Christians and Americans for the sins of yesterday, speak honestly to the people of today about the issues of today; don’t deflect attention from your own inaction by trying to assign guilt for crimes that occurred 1000 years ago.
Third, if you are going to be adolescent enough to try and deflect attention by assigning guilt, think carefully before you decide to engage in a fifth-grade tit-for-tat argument on issues about which you are clearly ignorant. The Crusades were originally called for by Pope Urban II primarily in response to Seljuq Turkish Muslims, who took Jerusalem from the relatively tolerant Egyptian Fatimid Muslims and then began to both persecute and oppress Christians in the city of Christ. A secondary motivation for the Crusades were the equally aggressive European ambitions of the same Seljuq Turkish Muslims, who were on the verge of taking Constantinople and destroying the Byzantine Empire on their way to Europe. And the final motivation was either the (pick one) fear or ambition of the maritime city/states of Italy (primarily Pisa, Genoa, Venice, Amalfi) whose commercial interests were threatened by the Seljuq Turkish Muslims’ increasing domination of eastern Mediterranean shipping routes. But no matter how you look at it, it was not random and arbitrary aggression on the part of Christians. And, for the record, if you read your history you will find the atrocities of the Crusades were pretty equally spread across both religions; neither side had a monopoly on brutality and savagery.
By “Inquisition” I assume you are referring to the Spanish Inquisition, because the Papal Inquisition of medieval times, and the later Roman Inquisition of Pope Paul III were relatively benign institutions, relying on excommunication rather than auto-da-fé. In fact, the Roman Inquisition was set up deliberately to counteract the Spanish one which was largely driven by secular forces as opposed to Christian ones, having been established by Ferdinand II and Isabella I for civil, not religious purposes. In any event, it can hardly be said to stand alone as a supreme example of evil. Were more people killed under the Inquisition than under the atheist Nazis? How about under Pol Pot? How about under the junta during the Argentine Dirty War? Or if you wish to remain approximately contemporaneous, how about under the rein of another Islamic Turk, Tamerlane (or Timur-i-lang) who may have butchered a greater percentage of the known world’s population than anyone else in history? You seem to think American Christians today should hang their heads in shame for the actions of our distant ancestors. Should we also judge Muslims by the sins of their fathers? How about, for a refreshing change, we just judge the radical Islamic terrorists of today by their own barbaric actions?
As for your reference to American slavery and Jim Crow, I would point out first that slavery was conducted in the name of mammon, not Christ, and that both of those abominable institutions were opposed and destroyed by Christians, in the case of Jim Crow most notably by Martin Luther King. Furthermore, if you counted every black killed under Jim Crow, from the end of the Civil War to the signing of the Civil Rights Act, a period of ninety-nine years, they would not amount to a fraction of the people butchered by the ISIS pigs during the past two years of your administration. Put that statistic on the wall of your presidential library as a proud part of your legacy. But don’t whitewash the actions of ISIS today by deflecting attention solely to the evil of venal Christians 1000 years ago.