Right-Wing Christians Angered By Obama’s Comparison Of ISIS To The Crusades

Crusaders sack an Orthodox church after the Siege of Constantinople in 1204 during the Fourth Crusade. Image via agiasofia.com

Crusaders sack an Orthodox church after the Siege of Constantinople in 1204 during the Fourth Crusade.
Image via agiasofia.com

Once upon a time, there were a series of religious wars waged by Christians against Muslims in what is today Syria, Lebanon and Israel. For nearly two hundred years between 1095 and 1291, these military actions known as crusades attempted to drive the Muslim occupants out of what European Christians believed to be the Holy Land. Capturing Jerusalem was the main goal of most of these crusades, but on at least one occasion, Crusaders had no problem turning on members of their own religion, as evidenced by the siege and looting of Constantinople in 1204.

Constantinople wasn’t just taken over and looted by the members of the Fourth Crusade. They killed men, women and children until they were literally too tired to lift their swords and raped women at will, including nuns. Then they proceeded to destroy the city as well as steal or desecrate religious objects from Orthodox churches.

After the killing, after the city had been subdued, there began a slow and steady removal of treasures out of the Orthodox temples and into the cathedrals, churches, monasteries, convents, cities and towns of Latin Europe. Some of these items had been venerated, cherished, and protected for centuries, others for a millennium. Now they were being carted away from over a hundred and fifty churches: altars, altar screens, tabernacles, antimins, icons, icon frames, processional, pectoral and altar crosses, gold and silver chains, panagias, mitres, croziers, chalices, patens, star covers and spears, Gospels, Epistle books, ladles, church plate, censers, votive lights, relics, candelabra, epitaphia, fans, reliquaries, vestments, banners, manuscripts, miniatures, ivories, carvings, mosaics, thrones, tapestries, furniture and architectural items. Cartloads of gold and silver from Santa Sophia found their way into the Vatican treasury. Constantinople had become the gold mine which supplied Latin Christendom. (Source)

From a historical perspective, the barbaric acts of ISIS are nothing new. Wars have been fought and innocents have been slaughtered over thousands of years with religion being used to justify the actions of insane or greedy individuals. Religious conservatives are outraged that President Obama reminded them that historically the horrific violence ISIS is engaging in isn’t confined to just radical Islam. Unlike ISIS now, which is a splinter group that is hated by nearly everyone (including Al-Qaeda), the Crusades were led and funded by what was mainstream Christianity at that time – and yes, the Muslims did some pretty horrible things back then as well.

To hear it from the far right though, you’d think President Obama had personally insulted every Christian by stating that in the long course of history, they weren’t without blood on their hands either. Just as an example, here’s one of the writers from Hermain Cain’s blog site having a fit over the statements President Obama made yesterday concerning ISIS:

Put your hand up if you voted for this guy. Now lower it and smack yourself hard in the back of your head. Seriously, while the best he can say about ISIS is that he wants to “degrade” the possibly most sadistic killers the world has ever seen, he sure as hell wants you Christians to know that you’ve been pretty horrible yourself throughout human history.

I seriously don’t even know what to do with this. It’s obviously part of his never-ending attempt to pretend jihad is somehow not really Islamic, and by citing everything from the crusades to slavery to Jim Crow, he thinks he can make the case that ISIS is no more Islamic than those people were Christian. Of course, that’s complete nonsense. If Obama really knew his Bible, which he clearly doesn’t, he would know that you can’t even stretch the Scriptures to justify any of the atrocities he wants to attribute to out-of-control Christians. (Source)

First off, ISIS is guilty of atrocities that would be considered rookie league stuff by the members of the Crusades, military campaigns that were blessed by the Pope. Too long ago? How about the Inquisition when Muslims, Christians and anyone suspected of being unfaithful to Church teachings were tortured, exiled or killed? Still too long ago? How about the Puritans who burnt people alive (sound familiar?) on the suspicion that they were witches? If that isn’t recent enough for you, I can point you to the KKK who sure as hell did (and are still doing) a lot of horrible things in the name of Christianity.

Make no mistake, ISIS is probably the most brutal religious terrorist organization we have known in our lifetimes and I would love nothing more than to see them wiped from the face of the planet. However, in the history of human civilization, no nation, race or creed is without blood on their hands. The Americas were settled by conquerors who slaughtered millions and pillaged in the name of Christianity. It wasn’t until very recently that Catholics and Protestants finally agreed to peace in British-occupied Northern Ireland, ending decades of violence between two sects of the “religion of peace.” Religious conservatives need to learn that we can condemn the actions of ISIS but we should all remember that their barbarism isn’t confined to one religion or place in history.


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