President Obama addressed violence committed in the name of religion at last week’s National Prayer Breakfast, comparing the atrocities committed by ISIS to the Crusades. The President’s remarks have been criticized by numerous Evangelical leaders the past several days as being uninformed and offensive to Christians.
In his speech, Obama said, “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.”
Billy Graham Evangelical Association and Samaritan’s Purse President Franklin Graham responded to Obama’s words via social media. "Today at the National Prayer Breakfast, the President implied that what ISIS is doing is equivalent to what happened over 1,000 years ago during the Crusades and the Inquisition,” he wrote. “Mr. President, many people in history have used the name of Jesus Christ to accomplish evil things for their own desires. But Jesus taught peace, love and forgiveness. He came to give His life for the sins of mankind, not to take life. Muhammad, on the contrary, was a warrior and killed many innocent people. True followers of Christ emulate Christ—true followers of Muhammed emulate Muhammed."
Renowned Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias wrote a blog condemning Obama’s speech.
“For those who did not hear the talk, it is sufficient to say that it was the most ill-advised and poorly chosen reprimand ever given at a National Prayer Breakfast,” he wrote. “I have been to several and have never, ever heard such absence of wisdom in a setting such as this. I wasn’t at this one but have heard the speech often enough to marvel at the motivation for such thoughts. President Obama basically lectured Christians not to get on a moral high horse in their castigation of the ISIS atrocities by reminding them that the Crusades and slavery were also justified in the name of Christ. Citing the Crusades, he used the single most inflammatory word he could have with which to feed the insatiable rage of the extremists. That is exactly what they want to hear to feed their lunacy. In the Middle East, history never dies and words carry the weight of revenge.”
Other Christian leaders have voiced negative opinions of Obama’s comparison of ISIS to the Crusades. Russell Moore, President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty branch of the Southern Baptist convention suggested that the President should try to sound less like he is giving a religion lecture at the University of Chicago and more like the Commander-in-Chief.
Publication date: February 10, 2015