The Fiend Sulking behind the Crucifix
By Jerry A. Kane
Shortly after Barack Obama’s controversial Prayer Breakfast remark about the Crusades, the Inquisition, and the terrible deeds people committed in the name of Christ, I stumbled upon a commentary that appeared in the Washington Post, and sent it out with the following comment:
“I never imagined I’d find myself agreeing with Hussein and citing the ComPost, but as they say, politics makes for strange bedfellows.”
Jay Michaelson’s WP commentary that I copied and pasted in the email appears at the end of this entry.
My email led to the following exchange between me and a member on my email list.
Response from email member:
I saw this [commentary] before and discarded it as on of the most misleading and biased “analyses” possible while having enough integrity to deceive the masses. I may write the real story and have been considering it but stopped when I heard a number of historians casting this history in a more accurate fashion on recent FOX shows.
For now, two points omitted: (1) Christians didn’t initiate war with the Muslims. It was the Muslims that attacked, defeated and ruled Jerusalem starting in the year 638 granting different rules for Christian and/or Jewish existence depending on the Caliph of each era which culminated in the Crusades being initiated with the goal of freeing Jerusalem after suppression, denial of pilgrimages, and the destruction of Christian symbols including the Church of the Holy Sepulchur, (2) Perhaps my history is bad but I have never heard the KKK viewed as a Christian organization and, even if someone of note has stated such, there is no justification for saying the existence of such was done to honor Christ.
And don’t forget Constantinople, Spain, France, even Rome being attacked by the Muslims prior to the Crusades while the Muslims were threatening the Baltics leading directly into Europe.
I patently reject that the objectives of freeing Jerusalem and protecting Europe while Muslims were conquering much of the civilized world had anything to do with honoring or following the teachings of Christ. To me, it is absolutely absurd. We might as well also say that WWI and WWII were Christian wars as each was initiated by nations that could be readily described as Christian nations.
You referred to the WP commentary as “the most misleading and biased “analyses” possible while having enough integrity to deceive the masses.”
Obviously the commentary is biased because the author is defending Obama’s Prayer Breakfast remarks through his analysis. This isn’t a news story, [name omitted]; it’s an opinion piece, which means it’s biased. As for your claim that the piece is misleading, I couldn’t disagree more.
You wrote, “Christians didn’t initiate war with the Muslims.” First off it was the Roman Catholic Church i.e., Pope Urban II, that initiated the First Crusade and other subsequent popes who carried on other Crusades.
You’re right to say “the Muslims attacked, defeated and ruled Jerusalem starting in the year 638 granting different rules for Christian and/or Jewish existence depending on the Caliph of each era,” but I take issue with your claim that the act “culminated in the Crusades.”
I would argue that the papacy’s reason for initiating and carrying on the crusades for over 200 years was purely political. Keep in mind, this was the Middle Ages during the rise of the Holy Roman Empire, a specific time period sandwiched between the Dark Ages and the Renaissance. It was a time period when the state wielded its power through the papacy, and the papacy wielded its power through the state-a time when emperors picked popes and popes picked emperors.
At the time of Urban II, the papacy was gaining greater wealth and power in the West, and Urban II used freeing Jerusalem, the attacks on pilgrimages, the destruction of the Church of the Holy Sepulchur, and the struggles of the Byzantine emperor, Alexios I to appeal to the masses and to justify his war with the Muslims.
Don’t misunderstand my position. I vehemently oppose the satanic jihads of the Muslim religion as much as I do the satanic crusades and subsequent Inquisition of the Roman Catholic religion.
The problem I face is that the term Christian is so loosely defined that it has come to mean any person, group, or organization that self-identifies as Christian and claims to believe in Jesus. Such are the perilous and interesting times in which we live.
If you have time, check out the following links from Historyworld.net.
The Holy Roman Empire
And the Crusades
Response from email member:
My basis for all I said was the history as recorded by Will and Ariel Durant, who I have found to be credible and well documented.
I am familiar with Will and Ariel Durant from various citations in articles and books that I’ve read, but I have not read any of the volumes from their series “The Story of Civilization.”
What I’m saying about the papacy is nothing new and was once understood in this country to be factual.
Response from email member:
I can only tell you what the Durants have reported which is what I used in a non-published book that I have written concerning the 14 centuries of War and Terror imposed by Islamist upon any people or nation that was within reach of their armies which included the conquest of Jerusalem in 638 and the slaughter of Jews, Christians, and many others throughout the history of the past 14 centuries. Nothing, and I mean zero, of the Durant history is incompatible with anything that we have personally observed in recent years. History is repeating itself only this time there are no massive armies with Jannissaries leading the way but rather a more sinister attack using what is called “The Project” created by the Muslim Brotherhood.
The only conclusion that is mine alone is that they have been at war with their so-called non-believers or infidels for 14 centuries and, frankly, I don’t give a damn what Christians or Jews or anyone else does to defend and destroy during a time of war. Much of this is covered in Durant’s Volume 4 with significant detail. Lastly, I personally prefer original work with documentation using sources created during the time of the actual events rather than much of the revisionist stuff published as history today. Islam was the aggressor in 638 and continued as such throughout their history, not the Christians just as Palestine is the aggressor not Israel, and just as the Islamists were the aggressors on 911, not America.
It may already be too late but it will most certainly favor the Islamist goals of world dominance if we continue to excuse them with political correctness and revisionist history.
You need to reread what I wrote. I am NOT defending Islam. I’m refusing to give the Roman State Church a pass on her brutal and heinous acts against those she branded as non-believers and heretics. She has been every bit as wicked and despicable an enemy of Christ as Islam has been to those whom it brands as infidels.
Many historians have tried to set the record straight on the Crusades, and they are not revisionists, but mainstream scholars offering what they’ve discovered over several decades of careful, serious scholarship. In fact, Edward Gibbon, author of “The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire” wrote that “the principle of the crusades was a savage fanaticism [that] “had checked rather than forwarded the maturity of Europe.”
Voltaire called the Crusades an epidemic disease and went on to say that leprosy was the only thing that Europeans had gained from the crusades.
You seem to want to ignore the atrocities the Roman State Church committed throughout the two hundred year history of the Crusades and the six hundred and five years of the Inquisition.
And to make matters worse, you continue to refer to her as Christian. The Pope is not Christian; he’s Catholic. And the Roman State Church is not a Christian church; it is a Catholic Church. That truth does not come from revisionist historians; it comes directly from the men and women who witnessed and chronicled her wickedness and savagery throughout history.
Response from email member:
Sorry, but the Roman Catholic Church is not my enemy nor my country’s enemy, and you are right, I am not to interested in what they did hundreds of years ago and I have no desire to give Barack Hussein Obama a pass for a distorted view of the Crusades.
You don’t have to go back hundreds of years ago to see The Roman State Church atrocities. You can find them during WWII in Yugoslavia:
During the Second World War in Yugoslavia, Catholic priests and Muslim clerics were willing accomplices in the genocide of the nations Serbian, Jewish and Roma population. From 1941 until 1945, the Nazi-installed regime of Ante Pavelic in Croatia carried out some of the most horrific crimes of the Holocaust (known as the Porajmos by the Roma), killing over 800,000 Yugoslav citizens – 750,000 Serbs, 60,000 Jews and 26,000 Roma. In these crimes, the Croatian Ustasha and Muslim fundamentalists were openly supported by the Vatican, the Archbishop of Zagreb Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac (1898-1960), and the Palestinian Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin al-Husseini.
Many of the victims of the Pavelic regime in Croatia were killed in the war’s third largest death camp – Jasenovac, where over 200,000 people – mainly Orthodox Serbs met their deaths. Some 240,000 were “rebaptized” into the Catholic faith by fundamentalist Clerics in “the Catholic Kingdom of Croatia” as part of the policy to “kill a third, deport a third, convert a third” of Yugoslavia’s Serbs, Jews and Roma in wartime Bosnia and Croatia
Ante Pavelic was the original “Butcher of the Balkans.” He was the leader of the Nazi puppet government of the “Independent State of Croatia” who died peacefully in Madrid in 1959. The mass murderer of 80,000 Jews, 30,000 Gypsies, and over 500,000 Serbs survived the Second World War and never faced a war crimes tribunal.
Instead Pavelic was offered sanctuary by the Vatican and became a security advisor to Juan and Eva Peron before retiring to fascist Spain. Key to Pavelic’s survival was the so-called Croatian Treasury, really nothing more than Pavelic personal wealth, the plunder of concentration camps and massacres throughout the Balkans and beyond. Wherever the loyal Ustashe (Croatian Nazis) served Pavelic and Hitler, Orthodox Christian churches and Jewish synagogues were plundered and the property of Serbs, Jews, Gypsies, Ukrainians and others were confiscated. The crimes of Pavelic and the Ustashe were so barbaric that even hardened Nazis were disgusted by it.
In the final days of World War II, Pavelic and his inner circle bought and bribed their way to Rome where help was waiting at the Vatican. Pavelic committed genocide on a level far greater than any known before or since in the Balkans but he had been personally received by Pius XII during his reign of terror. The Franciscan Order and Vatican bank eagerly helped launder Pavelic’s loot the proceeds of which were used to establish the so called ratline which helped thousands of Nazis and Ustashe escape to South America.
There it is, [name omitted]. You can either accept the truth or continue to live in denial.
Response from email member:
I believe your apologies for Obama are clearly stated as “Nazi-installed” per Ante Pavelic. You might recall that Italy itself was involved. Let us now blame all Lutherans and Germans for the holocaust!! This is absurd as this has nothing to do with either the Crusades or Obama’s denigration of Christianity and his attempts to destroy Western values. I will take you off of my distribution list as you simply miss the big picture of world events and world history for your own personal reasons.
There is none so blind as he who will not see.
Bye, bye [name omitted]
The truth is papal Rome has a bloody history. Its oppression of Jews, non-believers, and heretics has been widespread and consistent throughout history.
The papacy was designed for power and dominion over men; and its purpose hasn’t changed, which is why Lord Acton opposed it so vigorously.
“The papacy contrived murder and massacre on the largest and also on the most cruel and inhuman scale. They were not only wholesale assassins but they made the principle of assassination a law of the Christian Church and a condition of salvation…. [The Papacy] is the fiend skulking behind the Crucifix.”—John Emerich Edward Dalberg, a.k.a. Lord Acton
By Jay Michaelson
The conservative Twitterverse is all riled up because at Thursday’s (Feb. 5) National Prayer Breakfast (an event founded and run by the secretive Christian organization known as The Fellowship), President Obama said that Christians, as well as Muslims, have at times committed atrocities. His words:
“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.”
This would seem to be Religious History 101, but it was nonetheless met with shock and awe.
“Hey, American Christians, Obama just threw you under the bus in order to defend Islam,” wrote shock jock Michael Graham. Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-Ind., called the comments “dangerously irresponsible.” The Catholic League’s Bill Donohue said: “Obama’s ignorance is astounding and his comparison is pernicious. The Crusades were a defensive Christian reaction against Muslim madmen of the Middle Ages.”
More thoughtfully, Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, called Obama’s comments about Christianity “an unfortunate attempt at a wrongheaded moral comparison. … The evil actions that he mentioned were clearly outside the moral parameters of Christianity itself and were met with overwhelming moral opposition from Christians.”
1. The Crusades
The Crusades lasted almost 200 years, from 1095 to 1291. The initial spark came from Pope Urban II, who urged Christians to recapture the Holy Land (and especially the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem) from Muslim rule. Like the promise of eternal life given to Muslim martyrs, Crusaders were promised absolution from sin and eternal glory. Militarily, the Crusades were at first successful, capturing Jerusalem in 1099, but eventually a disaster; Jersualem fell in 1187. Successive Crusades set far more modest goals, but eventually failed to achieve even them. The last Crusader-ruled city in the Holy Land, Acre, fell in 1291. Along the way, the Crusaders massacred. To take but one example, the Rhineland Massacres of 1096 are remembered to this day as some of the most horrific examples of anti-Semitic violence prior to the Holocaust. (Why go to the Holy Land to fight nonbelievers, many wondered, when they live right among us?) The Jewish communities of Cologne, Speyer, Worms, and Mainz were decimated. There were more than 5,000 victims. And that was only one example. Tens of thousands of people (both soldiers and civilians) were killed in the conquest of Jerusalem. The Crusaders themselves suffered; historians estimate that only one in 20 survived to even reach the Holy Land. It is estimated that 1.7 million people died in total.
And this is all at a time in which the world population was approximately 300 million — less than 5 percent its current total. Muslim extremists would have to kill 34 million people (Muslim and non-Muslim alike) to equal that death toll today. As horrific as the Islamic State’s brutal reign of terror has been, its death toll is estimated at around 20,000.
While most of us regard “The Inquisition” as a particular event, it actually refers to a set of institutions within the Roman Catholic Church that operated from the mid-13th century until the 19th century. One actually still survives, now known as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which was directed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger before his 2005 election as Pope Benedict XVI. These institutions were charged with prosecuting heresy — and prosecute they did, executing and torturing thousands of suspected witches, converts from Judaism (many of whom had been forced to convert), Protestants, and all manner of suspected heretics, particularly in the 15th and 16th centuries. Historians estimate that 150,000 people were put on trial by the Inquisition, with 3,000 executed. Arguably, the Islamic State’s methods of execution — including crucifixion, beheading, and, most recently, burning a prisoner alive —are as gruesome as the Inquistion’s, with its infamous hangings and burnings at the stake. ISIS is also committing systematic rape, which the Inquisition did not, and enslaving children. As for torture, however, it’s hard to do worse than the Inquisition, which used torture as a method of extracting confessions. Methods included starvation, burning victims’ bodies with hot coals, forced overconsumption of water, hanging by straps, thumbscrews, metal pincers, and of course, the rack. Believe it or not, all of this was meant to be for the victim’s own good: better to confess heresy in this life, even under duress, than to be punished for it in the next. Contrary to Moore’s statement, the Inquisition was not “outside the moral parameters of Christianity itself and … met with overwhelming moral opposition from Christians.” Though Moore may distinguish between ‘Christianity’ and the Roman Catholic Church, for all intents and purposes the Roman Catholic Church WAS Christianity at the time, or at least claimed to be.
Slavery and Jim Crow
“Slaves, obey your masters,” the New Testament says — three times. And indeed, Christian teaching was cited on both sides of the slavery debate, with both slaveholders and abolitionists using it to justify theiractions. Segregationists also looked to the “Curse of Ham,” from the story of Noah, and the notion that God had separated the races on different continents. The effects were world-historic in scope: Nearly 12 million people were forced on the “Middle Passage” from Africa to the Americas. More recently, though the vast majority of Christians abhor it, the Ku Klux Klan, to the present day, still insists that it is a “Christian organization.” There’s a reason the Klan burned crosses alongside its lynchings and acts of arson, after all. Of course, there was also organized Christian opposition to slavery and to Jim Crow, and Christianity is at least as much the property of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., as of the segregationists and slaveholders of the Old South. But this was precisely Obama’s point: All religions have their hateful extremists, and their prophets of justice. What about popularity? Do more Muslims support the Islamic State today than Christians supported Jim Crow in the past? No. At the height of the KKK’s popularity in the 1920s, approximately 15 percent of white male Americans were members. That number is eerily similar to the 12 percent of Muslims worldwide who support terrorism today.
In other words, not only is Obama factually correct that Christian extremism across history has been at least as bloody as Muslim extremism today, it is also factually true that such extremisms have been equally popular. True, as Rush Limbaugh points out, the Crusades were “a thousand years ago,” the Inquisition ended 200 years ago, and Jim Crow legally ended in the 1960s. But the president specifically noted that “humanity has been grappling with these questions throughout human history.”
Which is the real point. There are two narratives about radical Islamists, and indeed about enemies of any sort, that coexist in American culture. According to one, they are different from us — Muslims, Palestinians, Israelis, Communists, you name it. Thus, in the battle against Islamic extremism, Islam is, in part at least, the enemy.
The other narrative is that all peoples, all creeds, all nations contain elements of moderation and extremism. Thankfully, racist Christian extremists are today a tiny minority within American Christianity. But only 100 years ago, they were as popular among American Christians as the Islamic State is among Muslims today. Thus, in the battle against Islamic extremism, it is extremism that is the enemy.
Hysterical commentary notwithstanding, no one is suggesting that Christians are just like the Islamic State. But Obama did suggest that Christianity is like Islam; both faiths have the capacity to be exploited by extremists. Christians should not be insulted by the facts of history. Rather, all of us should be inspired by them to recognize the dangers of extremism — wherever they lie.