Obama: Islam — & Christianity — Have Been Used To Justify Killing

Photo: SAUL LOEB/Getty Images.
In a pretty run-of-the-mill speech at the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday, President Barack Obama reminded Americans that Christians have killed and justified terrible acts using their religion for centuries, too. His message was one of tolerance between faiths. But, that hasn't stopped some Christian conservatives — who claim that Obama was comparing Christians’ past actions to those of ISIS — from getting really, really upset.

“The president’s comments this morning at the prayer breakfast are the most offensive I’ve ever heard a president make in my lifetime,” said former Virginia governor Jim Gilmore in an interview with The Washington Post. “He has offended every believing Christian in the United States. This goes further to the point that Mr. Obama does not believe in America or the values we all share.”

(Gilmore is probably forgetting that President Nixon reportedly thought blacks were “genetically inferior to whites," and that LBJ regularly employed the n-word.)

Here’s what Obama said in the speech, after discussing the horrors of ISIS — which he called a “vicious death cult” — as well as anti-Semitism in Europe and the murder of Muslims and Christians in Nigeria:

“…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 [religion] 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.”


The comments came after Obama very explicitly called out ISIS and, in context, were intended to make a point about being humble in practicing faith, or lack thereof. The point was not that Christians are like ISIS, but that any faith can be twisted, as Islam has been by ISIS.

“This is not unique to one group or one religion,” he said. “There is a tendency in us...that can pervert and distort our faith.”

That hasn’t stopped Christian conservatives from having a field day over Obama’s comments.

“To insinuate modern Christians — the same Christian faith that led the abolitionist movement, the civil rights movement, and global charitable efforts fighting disease and poverty — cannot stand up against the scourge we see in the Middle East is wrong," former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum said in a statement. Christian conservatives weren’t the only ones displeased with the speech; Obama also managed to really upset India by reminding that country of its own history of religious conflict in his comments.
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