Monday, February 16, 2015

The Crusades

President Obama made a few people upset when he mentioned the crusades in his speech at the National Prayer Breakfast:
So how do we, as people of faith, reconcile these realities -- the profound good, the strength, the tenacity, the compassion and love that can flow from all of our faiths, operating alongside those who seek to hijack religious for their own murderous ends? Humanity has been grappling with these questions throughout human history. And lest 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. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ...
He is correct.  Christians have done terrible things in the past.

The First Victims of the First Crusade
THE first victims of the First Crusade, inspired in 1096 by the supposedly sacred mission of retaking Jerusalem from Muslims, were European Jews. Anyone who considers it religiously and politically transgressive to compare the behavior of medieval Christian soldiers to modern Islamic terrorism might find it enlightening to read this bloody story, as told in both Hebrew and Christian chronicles.
History does repeat itself. Read this too on the Inquisition:

and finally summed up nicely at NPR (look at the end of the transcript):

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