- President Obama launched his latest broadside against American exceptionalism this week, insulting Christians during, of all events, the National Prayer Breakfast
Barack Hussein Obama’s disdain for American culture and heritage is becoming legendary. During his six years as president and a couple of insignificant years as a U.S. senator he has taken every opportunity to dismiss and denigrate American exceptionalism, both at home and abroad, beginning in 2009 with his famed “apology tour” and continuing, most recently, with his jab at Christianity, the country’s most dominant religion, at of all places the National Prayer Breakfast.
Just a few days after Islamic extremist animals released a video in which they soaked a captured Jordanian fighter pilot in gasoline and then burned him alive, Obama took the opportunity at the breakfast to denounce such violence in the name of religion, but only by couching it in centuries-old warfare ostensibly launched on behalf of Jesus Christ.
But it wasn’t enough for Obama to remind the world that, during the Inquisition and the Crusades, soldiers fought under a banner of Christianity. No; Obama had to go further, claiming that such wars featured “terrible deeds” . . . committed “in the name of Christ.”
“Humanity has been grappling with these questions throughout human history,” Obama said. “And 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 reference to slavery is obligatory because if anything, Obama’s always been about race and, in particular, the black race. But we digress.
The president has a point in that, yes, historically, there have been some bad deeds committed in the name of Christ, and there are few Christians who will deny this.
But neither were these particular events – the Crusades and the Inquisition, despite cruelties committed – what Obama claimed they were. As noted by Jonah Goldberg, writing in Real Clear Politics, these were actually defensive wars, wars aimed at blunting the advance of Muslim empire into Western Europe, which at the time (circa 1095 for the Crusades) was far less powerful.
“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,” wrote Bernard Lewis, the greatest living English-language historian of Islam.
And as for the Inquisition, Goldberg writes, it was not a single event but actually many, and most of them “were not particular nefarious.” For centuries, he points out, the Catholic Church launched a series of inquiries or investigations – “inquisitions,” if you will:
Historian Thomas Madden, director of the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at Saint Louis University, writes that the “Inquisition was not born out of desire to crush diversity or oppress people; it was rather an attempt to stop unjust executions.”
In medieval Europe, heresy was a crime against the state, Madden explains. Local nobles, often greedy, illiterate, and eager to placate the mob, gleefully agreed to execute people accused of witchcraft or some other forms of heresy. By the 1100s, such accusations were causing grave injustices (in much the same way that apparatchiks in Communist countries would level charges of disloyalty in order to have rivals “disappeared”).
“The Catholic Church’s response to this problem was the Inquisition,” Madden explains, “first instituted by Pope Lucius III in 1184.”
These truths don’t quite have the same shock value and impact as the manner in which Obama referred to the Inquisition, do they?
Not all that was done during various Inquisitions, especially in Spain, is defensible. But, as Goldberg notes, the most important point to make that transcends Obama’s sound-bite attempt at downplaying Islamic (a religious description he won’t use) extremism is that even during its darkest hours, under some of the most corrupt popes, Christianity was a force for man’s overall improvement.
“Christianity ended greater barbarisms under pagan Rome,” Goldberg wrote. “The church often fell short of its ideals — which all human things do — but its ideals were indisputably a great advance for humanity. Similarly, while some rationalized slavery and Jim Crow in the U.S. by invoking Christianity, it was ultimately the ideals of Christianity itself that dealt the fatal blow to those institutions. Just read any biography of Martin Luther King Jr. if you don’t believe me.”
Obama’s reference was to medieval Christianity – he is certainly not referring to the Christianity of modern times, because modern Christian movements do not perform nor condone the atrocious and barbaric acts being committed by barbarians in the name Islam. He also fails to note, conveniently, that the same Muslim extremism responsible for horrific acts of violence and depravity in medieval times is currently on display in modern times as well.
“We are all descended from cavemen who broke the skulls of their enemies with rocks for fun or profit,” writes Goldberg. “But that hardly mitigates the crimes of a man who does the same thing today. I see no problem judging the behavior of the Islamic State and its apologists from the vantage point of the West’s high horse, because we’ve earned the right to sit in that saddle.”
But in the end, isn’t this just more of Obama being Obama – speaking his mind a day after meeting with Muslim leaders (even though he won’t meet with Israeli leaders, such as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, even as his country – our supposedly ally – lives daily under Islamist guns).
“The president’s comments this morning at the prayer breakfast are the most offensive I’ve ever heard a president make in my lifetime,” said former Virginia governor Jim Gilmore, a Republican. “He has offended every believing Christian in the United States. This goes further to the point that Mr. Obama does not believe in America or the values we all share.”
What are YOUR views about what President Obama said regarding Christians? Is he right? Is he wrong? Did he pick the wrong venue to make his comments? INFORM THE DEBATE below!