No one is going to find more fault with the current President of the United States than I do. However it might be OK if we didn't knee-jerk respond to every single thing that he says in ways that make evangelicals look dumb. Case in point the kerfuffle over what President Obama said at the National Prayer Breakfast. Thanks to the ridiculous reaction to the President I forced myself to listen to part of his speech. Now I am going to ask you to do the same.
Here is the offending sentence:
"During the Crusades and the Inquisition people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ."
That is one of the least controversial and most accurate things that this President has ever uttered and yet people who claim to champion religious liberty flipped out. A couple of quick points.
First, the President was not drawing a moral equivalence between the burning of a Jordanian fighter pilot in the 21st century and the Crusades and Inquisition. His point apparently was that people have always done evil in the name of religion and yes both the Crusades and the Inquisition were examples of this and they were both evil and anti-Christian. That is a true statement. Take a stroll through the history of religion through much of European history and you will see atrocity after atrocity committed while blasphemously invoking the name of Christ. He also called the Islamic State a "death cult" which doesn't sound like he is an apologist for their actions.
Second, in the rush to reflexively disagree with Obama and of course include the obligatory claim that he is a Muslim or at least a Muslim sympathizer (I don't believe that he is a Muslim nor that he is a Christian), many evangelicals have tripped over themselves in touting the Crusades as a godly response to heathen aggression and hey the Inquisition wasn't that bad after all. It is embarrassing and shameful. The same religious organization and the same mindset that led to Christians being burned to death for the heresy of proclaiming the Gospel also championed the Inquisition and the Crusades. It makes as much sense for an evangelical Christian to defend the Crusades as it does for us to defend the burning at the stake of so many brothers and sisters throughout history. If you are a Christian then what you hear from the pulpit and in your Sunday school class (hopefully) would be enough to get you tortured and murdered by the Inquisitors. I understand why Roman apologists have to try to gloss over history. They have no choice if they are to perpetuate the myth of an unbroken line of succession. But Christians? Come on.
But the Muslims started it!
Yes the Crusades were responding to Muslim aggression. Certainly from a secular standpoint they can be, if not justified, at the very least understood as a reasonable response in that cultural context. What separates the Crusades is the historical perception, although not the reality, that the Crusades were a war between Christianity and Islam. What it was in truth was a series of wars led by pagans and unbelievers on both sides that callously manipulated people by perverting their faith, most especially by the "popes" and others who sent men off to war with an emblem representative of the means by which Christ laid down His life emblazoned on tunic and shield. Don't we tell a child who hits another child and tries to defend their action by saying "He started it!" that it doesn't make it right to hit? I guess when adults go to war because "he started it!" it suddenly becomes justified.
The Crusaders were not serving Christ and very few of them were likely Christians in the first place. There are no "holy wars" fought by "Christian soldiers". There are no "holy lands" that demand that followers of the Lamb go to war. There is no call to smite the infidel in the name of Christ. There is no weapon in the war we fight but the Word of God. There is no escape clause in the commandment of Christ to love our enemies that excuses and encourages us to kill our enemies because they invade "our lands" or control "our holy places" or even because they kill and enslave us.
Oh Lord, how your sheep have lost their way because they have stopped listening to the voice of the Good Shepherd.