In response to Barack Obama’s recent comments asserting that Christians are just as guilty for violence committed in the name of Christ as Muslims are for committing terrorism in the name of Mohammad, a number of prominent leaders are speaking out against the president’s remarks as being an improper comparison.
“Jesus taught peace, love and forgiveness. He came to give His life for the sins of mankind, not to take life. Mohammad, on the contrary, was a warrior and killed many innocent people,” wrote Franklin Graham in a Facebook post. “True followers of Christ emulate Christ—true followers of Mohammed emulate Mohammed.”
As previously reported, during the National Prayer Breakfast held in Washington on Thursday, Barack Obama spoke against violence committed in the name of religion, and stated that Christians have been just as guilty as Muslims and other terror groups of this crime.
“It’s not unique to one group or one religion,” he said. “There is a tendency in us—a sinful tendency—that can pervert and distort our faith.”
“From a school in Pakistan to the streets of Paris, we have seen violence and terror perpetrated by those who profess to stand up for their faith—profess to stand up for Islam—but are in fact betraying it,” Obama outlined. “We see sectarian war in Syria, the murder of Muslims and Christians in Nigeria, religious war in the Central African Republic, a rising tide of anti-Semitism and hate crimes in Europe, so often perpetrated in the name of religion.”
But Obama stated that while America may look to other countries and religions as being shameful for committing violence in the name of their religion, he suggested that Christians had an oppressive and violent history themselves.
“Humanity has been grappling with these questions throughout human history. Unless 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,” he said. “In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.”
Obama’s comments quickly sparked a firestorm of controversy and many began to discuss the Crusades and what they were really about.
“I don’t think the president knows very much about the Crusades,” Thomas Madden, a professor and historian at the University of St. Louis, told ABC News.
“He seems to be casting them as an example of a distortion of Christianity and trying to compare that to what he sees as a distortion of Islam in the actions of ISIS,” he continued. “[But] the initial goal of the Crusades was to give back lands to Christians that been conquered due to Muslim conquests.”
Christianity Today also republished an article from Madden, who further explained that the Crusades—like the present—were a pushback in response to Muslim violence.
“[T]he Crusades to the East were in every way defensive wars,” he wrote. “They were a direct response to Muslim aggression…”
“Pope Urban II called upon the knights of Christendom to push back the conquests of Islam at the Council of Clermont in 1095,” he explained. “The response was tremendous. Many thousands of warriors took the vow of the cross and prepared for war.”
“While Christians of today are taught to live their lives as the reflection of Christ’s love, the radicals of ISIS use their holy texts as a rationale for violence,” said former presidential candidate Rick Santorum, a Roman Catholic. “To insinuate modern Christians—the same Christian faith that led the abolitionist movement, the Civil Rights Movement, and global charitable efforts fighting disease and poverty—cannot stand up against the scourge we see in the Middle East is wrong.”
Bishop E.W. Jackson, the evangelical founder of StandAmerica and former political candidate, chastised Obama’s comparison as well. He said that the president’s remarks in essence gave ammunition to jihadists.
“I have a message for the president with all due respect to him and to the office: Mr. President, if you don’t want to give terrorists a recruitment’s tool, instead of closing Guantanamo Bay, frankly sir, you ought to close your mouth. Because you just gave them a gigantic propaganda tool,” Jackson stated. “They called us ‘crusaders’ and you just confirmed it.”
“Mr. President, we’re not on our ‘high horse.’ What we are is on high alert,” he continued. “And the American people would like for once, to know that you are willing to defend Christianity and defend America instead of defending Islam.”