Obama ‘ignorant’ over Inquisition

Obama ‘ignorant’ over Inquisition

The Catholic League’s Bill Donohue is spitting tacks over Barack Obama’s reminder this week that ‘during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ’.

Demanding an apology from the President, Donohue said his “ignorance is astounding”, and sought to defend Catholic Church’s role in the Crusades and distanced it from the Inquisition.

Donohue claimed that the Crusades were:

A defensive Christian reaction against Muslim madmen of the Middle Ages … and regarding the other fable, the Inquisition, the Catholic Church had almost nothing to do with it.

The Church saw heretics as lost sheep who needed to be brought back into the fold. By contrast, secular authorities saw heresy as treason; anyone who questioned royal authority, or who challenged the idea that kingship was God-given, was guilty of a capital offense. It was they –not the Church – who burned the heretics. Indeed, secular authorities blasted the Church for its weak role in the Inquisition.

This is breathtaking, given the fact that Pope Paul II made a sweeping apology for 2,000 years of violence, persecution and blunders by the Catholic Church, and Cardinal Ratzinger, later to become Pope, confessed to the sins of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith’s predecessor, the Inquisition, and said:

Even men of the church, in the name of faith and morals, have sometimes used methods not in keeping with the Gospel.

Donohue’s rant was one of many that followed a private meeting Obama had with Muslim leaders, and words he spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast.

According to Alternet’s Zaid Jilani:

The meeting set off predictable angry reactions from the political right, with Fox News’ Sean Hannity even saying he wished Obama had demanded that the leaders publicly denounce radical Islam.

Obama further raised the hackles of the Christian right when he said at the National Prayer Breakfast that no religion has a monopoly on violence, saying, ‘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 committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. Slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ’.

Jilani added:

The reaction to these comments was apoplectic. Rush Limbaugh called it an ‘insult’ to Christianity; the Tea Party News Network said Obama threw ‘Christians under the bus’; the Daily Caller surmised that Obama’s remarks were designed to ‘curb’ criticism of Islam.

All of these critics failed to engage with the substance of what Obama was saying. The President was not attacking Christianity, he was simply noting that just as ISIS may be using the name of Islam to rally followers to its violent agenda, extremists within the Christian faith have done the same thing historically. Violence has been in the mainstream of Christianity throughout history.

If anything, Obama didn’t go far enough in his remarks. Christianist violence isn’t a relic of the Crusades; it continues today, and in many of its forms is just as violent as what we are seeing from ISIS.

He then lists a whole bunch of Christian atrocities,  including genocide against Muslim Bosnians by Serbian Orthodox Christians, and refers to a 2013 study by a Middle East historian:

Juan Cole decided to compare the body counts between violence committed by Christians and that committed by Muslims in the 20th century. He found that Muslim violence has claimed the lives of around 2 million people, mostly during the Iran-Iraq war and the war in Afghanistan, while violence by Christians claimed the lives of close to 100 million people.

Jilani concluded:

None of this is to argue that Christians are uniquely violent; that would be as wrong-headed as the Fox News argument about Islam’s insidiousness. It is just to point out that any large organization with enough people in it is capable of succumbing to tribalism, to the idea that our group is ‘good’ and other groups are ‘bad’ and should be feared, or disenfranchised, or even killed.

That’s as true of Christianity as it is Islam, or Judaism, or Buddhism, or any large-scale ideology or religion. President Obama wasn’t wrong; if anything, he understated his case.

12 responses to “Obama ‘ignorant’ over Inquisition”

  1. Caute says:

    Bill Donohue is a verminous poisonous evil bigot with a mind constipated by fundamentalist catholic dogma. Had he been a muslim he would already have blow himself and many others to pieces in an act of suicide bombing. Nothing, absolutely nothing that he spews out of his odious maw has any intellectual merit. He is a bitter twisted knarled loser.

  2. CharlyO says:

    Well! The RCC doesn’t mind be called pedophiles but they sure rankled at being called violent. LOL
    I think they have adjusted history in their own minds and now believe it to be true.

  3. RussellW says:

    There is some merit in the argument that the Crusades were a reaction to the previous 450 years of Muslim attacks on Europe, ie the demented followers of one violent and imperialistic religion attacked the demented followers of another.

    I noticed that no one mentioned the genocidal crusade against the Cathars in Southern France, or the Northern Crusade of the Teutonic Knights. The Cathars certainly weren’t ‘Muslim madmen’.

  4. jay says:

    Obama undermines his own case by refusing to classify the killing and terrorism as Islamic violence. Everyone else can see that elephant in the room.

  5. Robster says:

    That silly Bill Donohue has his own little history that he makes up as he goes along. No need for truth (his is representing the catholic church so truth has never really mattered)and is if anything, a severe embarrassment. Secretly he’s on our side, every time a pile of steaming nonsense falls from his lips, catholics will go, at least the ones who can still think, “maybe it’s time to move on” and embrace a rational world view.

  6. Trevor Blake says:

    “The Tuskegee Institute has recorded 3,446 blacks and 1,297 whites being lynched between 1882 and 1968.”

    “Boko Haram killed more than 5,000 civilians between July 2009 and June 2014, including at least 2,000 in the first half of 2014, in attacks occurring mainly in northeast, north-central and central Nigeria.”

    Sure, President Obama, Jim Crow and Islam are just alike. Except what it took a century to do in the all of the USA it’s taken just five years for just this one group of a few thousand Muslims to do.

    One religious or racist murder is one too many. But let us not pretend that Islam is anything less than the greatest evil on the planet, perhaps of all time.

  7. Laura Roberts says:

    Thank you, RusselW! The Cathars, the bloody and brutal Albigensian Crusade and the ironically named Pope Innocent III. They were the ISIS of their day.

    I love that American Christians throw a tantrum anytime someone suggests they’re not exceptional. I suppose the good thing is, these days they’re only going to wail and blubber and get purple in the face; I don’t foresee a Charlie Hebdo incident in response to this.

  8. barriejohn says:

    And how about the poor Huguenots?

    Of course, you can argue that much “religious violence” does have a strong political or ethnic aspect, but religion has most certainly NOT been a force for worldwide peace and understanding, despite claims to the contrary.

  9. Newspaniard says:

    Notice, again how the islamofascists excuse their own barbarism by pointing to someone else committing atrocities centuries ago. This is the 21st century and these fascists are still pointing to the crusades to divert the rest of us away from what they, themselves are doing today in the name of their ideology.

  10. lucy 1 says:

    Anyone watching Wolf Hall? The state burning heretics alive, like ISIS did. And it was the state technically I suppose, not the church, except that they were exactly the same thing at the time. and it was done in the name of heresy, not treason.
    If xtianity could get away with it now, they would do it, some of them anyway.

    BTW spell check on’ xtianity’ brings up ‘inanity’. just wish it was ‘insanity’ but there we go.

  11. Lon says:

    Many undermine their own case by refusing to classify the killing and terrorism as religious violence. We can see that elephant in the room.

  12. Judy says:

    Western societies need to get away from all the Abrahamic religions if they want any progress. These religions have always held humanity back. That’s why I prefer the mythicist position: