Obama’s recent speech at the National Prayer Breakfast have touched off a firestorm. The offending statement was this:
Humanity has been grappling with these questions throughout human history. 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.
This would not be controversial in one aspect if not for the fact that Obama will not describe Islamic Terrorists as Islamic Terrorists. His rationale is that such labeling hurts and offends those of that faith. However, he has no mercy for Christians or Jews in that regard if the Prayer breakfast speech is any indication.
Even his National Security Advisor, Susan Rice, bolsters this impression when she said the very next day:
But, too often, what’s missing here in Washington is a sense of perspective. Yes, there’s a lot going on. Still, while the dangers we face may be more numerous and varied, they are not of the existential nature we confronted during World War II or the Cold War. We can’t afford to be buffeted by alarmism and an instantaneous news cycle. We must continue to do the hard work of leading a complex and rapidly evolving world, of seizing opportunities, and of winning the future for our children [emphasis added].
Apparently, the administration has forgotten that the Nazi’s and several religious imams were in alliance during World War II—the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem is but one notorious example of this cozy relationship of common goals.
The problem with Obama’s remarks in particular are amplified by the fact that he will not note the religious aspects of ISIS, but will condemn the religious aspects of terror employed by “Christians.” The question one is forced to ask is: why the apparent favoritism to one Faith over another? Why single out Christians and not Muslims? It is a curious omission.
For the record, it is absolutely true that “Christians” terrorized people in the form of the KKK in our own country. My recent research on Ulysses Grant revealed that Grant used federal authority to put down terror in the South against the former slaves at the hands of the KKK. Among the atrocities were intimidation, hangings, murders, etc., of men, women, and children. These facts cannot be denied. We could easily point to many examples, including the Star Chamber of how religious fanatics use their faith to violate the rights of others.
When it comes to the Crusades and their moral equivalency to ISIS, Obama is simply incorrect as noted here, here, here, here, here, here, here. The history of the Crusades in all its negatives and positives (if you will) have been duly noted here:
It is generally thought that Christians attacked Muslims without provocation to seize their lands and forcibly convert them. The Crusaders were Europe’s lacklands and ne’er-do-wells, who marched against the infidels out of blind zealotry and a desire for booty and land. As such, the Crusades betrayed Christianity itself. They transformed “turn the other cheek” into “kill them all; God will know his own.”
Every word of this is wrong.
The idea of the Crusades, especially being against a people who identified as Muslim is historically difficult to decipher, especially when we consider Tom Holland’s thesis that their Prophet was not a congealed idea in their mind until very late in history. See his BBC documentary which raises the question (I think respectfully) here.
My favorite, and most reasonable, reaction to the President’s speech comes from Commentary Magazine where Peter Wehner pointed out that:
…but it’s also true that slavery and segregation were overthrown by those who justified their actions in the name of Christ. And if the president insists on making comparisons between Christianity and Islam, then it needs to be said that while Christianity has struggled with religious intolerance in its past, it has almost everywhere made its inner peace with religious tolerance and pluralism. On the other hand, true religious freedom has been quite rare in Muslim-majority communities throughout history. That doesn’t mean it can’t happen. It doesn’t mean that most Muslims embrace the version of Islam being practiced by ISIS. And it certainly doesn’t mean that individual Muslims can’t assimilate themselves in America. Millions do, and they are wonderful contributors to our nation.
But it does mean that in the here and now, the problems we see are emanating not from within Christianity but from within Islam.
Hence, we have the crux of the problem. There is no superiority when it comes to one Faith being better than another. Revelatory appeals to irrational utterances (that is beyond Reason) are plenary. No Faith can escape the use and abuse of the Word on High. Obama is right about past abuses of Christianity (for the most part—he’s woefully wrong about the Crusades which was a defensive “war”). But, he favors Islam so as to not offend while he offends Christians. How odd and how misplaced is his criticism.
The real divide is not which Faith is better or has been reformed, or will be reformed. The real divide is between Philosophy and Revelation. It is high time Reason brought Faith before its tribunal. And Obama fails to move us to the discussion most necessary to Our Souls.