Saturday, February 7, 2015

The Crusades vs. Jihad

The President opened a can of worms the other day at the National Prayer Breakfast by attempting a history lesson. In that especially irritating, condescending way that he has at times, he warned Americans not to get on our "high horse" by assigning barbaric acts exclusively to the Muslim faith. He reminded us about the Crusades and the Inquisition as well as slavery and Jim Crow on our own shores and the dark roll that Christianity had played in each. Our President is quite fond of this sort of thing, his strange habit of equivocation, always eager to point out our own sins while granting dispensation for the sins of others. Where to begin?

Let me start with the issue of slavery and Jim Crow, since my historical knowledge is more dependable. The President is correct that slavery is indeed a black mark for not only our nation but Christianity as well. In fact my chosen denomination was birthed over an incorrect interpretation of scripture concerning the nature of slavery. More recently, many churches, especially in the south, were supportive of the Jim Crow laws of the 1950's to their everlasting shame. But whenever I hear this charge leveled against Christianity, my blood begins to rise because the critics always leave out two things. First, the abolitionist movement that ultimately lead to the eradication of human bondage in the West was predominately a Christian project, both here and in England. And while the West is largely free from its scourge, slavery still thrives throughout the Muslim world. Secondly, you would have to search far and wide to find an ordinary Christian who does not admit that slavery was and is a horrible thing and any past Christian support for it was a grave error. In many parts of the Muslim world, by contrast, they danced in the streets celebrating 9/11.  President doesn't need to remind us of what the vast majority of Christians already know, acknowledge and understand...slavery is a sin.

With regards to the Crusades, this is the go-to accusation levied against anyone who dares to publicly
question Islam's seeming domination by its most radical and violent elements. "Well?? What about
the Crusades, huh?? You Christians are no better!!" This is barnyard manure of the highest order. First of all, it needs to be pointed out that the Crusades ended 600 years ago, and the historical accounts of it are filled with conflicting claims as to who in fact was responsible for most of the carnage. The hands of Islam are just as bloody as those of the Crusaders. And while it appears that Christianity has been rather successful at reigning in its Medieval barbarism, Jihad is still very much with us, which is a salient point that the President always seems to miss. The entire point of the crisis in which civilization finds itself is NOT the Christian violence of 1000 AD, but the bloody violence of the here and now, most of which is rooted in the Islamic doctrine of Jihad.

I agree with those who say that it isn't fair to blame an entire religion for the excesses of a minority of its adherents. I cringe when people try to blame Christianity for the Westboro Baptist crowd. I even object to the Westboro haters being called "Christian" since they demonstrate no recognizable fruits of the spirit. So, I have sympathy for the Administrations sometimes awkward parsing of words when
attempting to identify the enemy. Devout Muslims may equally cringe when they hear the lunatics of ISIS called "radical Islamists." But, while Christian churches are being burnt to the ground wherever the Jihadists gain power, Mosque construction continues here in America. No armed, roaming bands of Methodists have been spotted destroying Muslim businesses lately, I know of no Presbyterian gangs raping and pillaging through Dearborn, Michigan.

However, with a billion Muslims on this planet, if only 10% of them support violent Jihad, then we are dealing with potentially 100 million radicalized  Islamic terrorists. While they are still very much
the minority of such an ancient religion, they are the ones with the power, the zeal and the weapons. History lessons about the Crusades do nothing to change this horrible fact.