|Pope John Paul II|
The Christian Right was infuriated when President Obama said something almost identical to what Pope John Paul II said in 2001, and accused Obama of throwing “Christians under the bus.” The pope said “It is tragic the assailants [crusaders] … turned against their brothers in the faith,” while Obama said that “during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.”
None of the criticism of Obama is even remotely true, because the President only acknowledged that people of all faiths at one time or another have “hijacked religion for their own murderous end.” At the recent National Prayer Breakfast Obama pointed out that no particular religion “has a monopoly on violence.”
Unless you agree with the torturers of the Spanish Inquisition you must agree with Obama, as does the darling of the Right, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. In December 2013, he gave the Pope a book about the Spanish Inquisition, which describes Spanish Catholics questioning and torturing Jewish converts to Catholicism.
In the same way ISIS uses the Muslim faith to rally followers and advance its violent agenda, radical fundamentalists in the Christian faith have used religion to do similar things at various times in world history.
Take the crusades: Christians attacked other Christians and sacked Constantinople (the Fourth Crusade). Crusaders looted and terrorized the city in 1204 and, 800 years later, Pope John Paul II apologized for Christians, recognizing the mayhem wrought by those Christian crusaders. The President and Pope John Paul both spoke the truth in recognizing the evil that was done in the name of religion.
The Christian Right is all too ready to pounce on the President for not being Christian enough, in this case because he simply recalled violent history done in the name of religion. He has clearly condemned ISIS as a “brutal, vicious death cult” but also pointed out that Christianity had committed violent acts in the name of God. This is hardly equating ISIS with Christianity, as the right claims.
There is nothing controversial about denouncing religious extremism. Of course not — the right does it all the time with Islam. But to pretend that at no time in the history of Christianity has extremism resulted in death and destruction is simply wrong.