On Tuesday, the so-called Islamic State released a slickly produced video showing a Jordanian pilot being burned alive in a steel cage. On Wednesday,
And on Thursday, President Obama seized the opportunity of the National Prayer Breakfast to forthrightly criticize the "terrible deeds" ... committed "in the name of Christ."
"Humanity has been grappling with these questions throughout human history," Obama said, referring to the ennobling aspects of religion as well as the tendency of people to "hijack" religions towards murderous ends.
"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
Obama's right. Terrible things have been done in the name of Christianity. I have yet to meet a Christian who denies this.
But, as odd as it may sound for a guy named Goldberg to point it out, the Inquisition and the Crusades aren't the indictments Obama thinks they are. For starters, the Crusades -- despite their terrible organized cruelties -- were a defensive war.
"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," writes
As for the Inquisition, it needs to be clarified that there was no single "Inquisition," but many. And most were not particularly nefarious. For centuries, whenever the
I cannot defend everything done under the various Inquisitions -- especially in
Christianity ended greater barbarisms under pagan
When Obama alludes to the evils of medieval Christianity, he fails to acknowledge the key word: "medieval." What made medieval Christianity backward wasn't Christianity but medievalism.
It is perverse that Obama feels compelled to lecture the West about not getting too judgmental on our "high horse" about radical Islam's medieval barbarism in 2015 because of Christianity's medieval barbarism in 1215.
It's also insipidly hypocritical. President Obama can't bring himself to call the Islamic State "Islamic," but he's happy to offer a sermon about Christianity's alleged crimes at the beginning of the last millennium.
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.