The Christian Right has its hair on fire. Again. Its target: President Barack Obama. Again. The extreme fringe partisan rhetoric that has become the watchword of American politics — particularly when any hint of religion is mixed in — is in the headlines. Again.
The President’s offense? He dared to tell the truth about early Christianity and the religion’s role in the slavery and black oppression movements in the United States. Without uttering a single falsehood, without overstating a single fact, the President drew the blistering fire of an unthinking right wing fundamentalist movement in this country.
He did it by reminding us Christians of our role in the Crusades, during which likely upwards of a million people died. It is impossible to know anything resembling exact numbers for a host of reasons but based on contemporaneous accounts, archeological findings and projective estimates, it was probably no fewer than 200,000 and could have been as high as 5 million.
He did it by reminding us Christians of our purely internal purge called the Inquisition in which at least 10-20,000 were reported to have been killed.
He did it by reminding us Christians of the number of African-Americans hanged, burned, shot and otherwise murdered during the days of slavery and up through the 1960’s, a social upheaval that continues to this day albeit at a much slower pace.
He didn’t even mention the Salem Witch trials or dozens of other wars, crusades, scourges and attacks carried out in the name of Christianity or its founder.
These are historic facts. But apparently if you bring them up, you are providing cover for those who brutally execute Jordanian air force pilots, behead dozens of Western captives, and kill thousands and thousands of their own in the name of Q’ran.
The President was attempting to bring historical and religious perspective to a significant world problem caused by religious and spiritual intolerance and bigotry. In doing so, he got his facts right.
For that, the Right would crucify or impeach him.
“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 (R). “He has offended every believing Christian in the United States.”
No, he hasn’t. He’s offended only every Christian who believes as Gilmore does. And this:
Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, called Obama’s comments about Christianity “an unfortunate attempt at a wrongheaded moral comparison.” What we need more is a “moral framework from the administration and a clear strategy for defeating ISIS.”
Yep, what we need as we attempt to emulate the God of Peace and the Christ of Forgiveness is a moral framework for war. Yeesh.
Bill Donohue, the president of the Catholic League, said in a statement that Mr. Obama was trying to “deflect guilt from Muslim madmen.” He said the president’s comparisons were “insulting” and “pernicious.”
Sound reasoning, that.