You will recall last year's congressionally sponsored "National Prayer Breakfast" when remarks by Dr. Benjamin Carson launched his career as a potential presidential nominee. The White House had demanded an advance copy of Dr. Carson's speech, but since Dr. Carson uses no notes, or even a teleprompter, he was unable to comply with the White House request. The result was, as they say, "history."
As controversial as Dr. Carson's remarks were said to have been, this year, the President seems to have outdone the good doctor in creating a firestorm of reaction to his comparison of today's Islamic terrorism to early Christianity.
Mr. Obama began his remarks with "Giving all praise and honor to God, it is wonderful to be back with you here." OK. So far, so good.
He then spoke of the atrocities of "those who murder Muslims and Christians in Nigeria, and subject women to rape as a weapon of war." No mention of ISIS, but still OK since those are just facts of everyday life in the Islamic areas of the world.
But then his knowledge of history failed him when he admonished us to not "get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place." He continued, "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 (sic) justified in the name of Christ."
But equating today's Islamic practice of public beheadings and in-vitro burning of political opponents to the 9th century Crusades and 19th century slavery is a bit of a stretch.
We must remember, even if President Obama chooses not to, that the Crusades were military campaigns sponsored by Pope Urban II of the Roman Catholic Church to free the Jerusalem Christian Holy Lands from Islamic captivity. And under the leadership of President Abraham Lincoln, more than a half million American lives were sacrificed to end slavery in the United States of America -- the first such nation in the world to do so.
As for the Inquisition, it needs to be clarified that there was no single "Inquisition," but many. For centuries, whenever the Catholic Church launched an inquiry or investigation, it was called an "inquisition." Although glorified by Hollywood in such epic productions as "The Man of La Mancha," most were not particularly nefarious.
Historian Thomas Madden, director of the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at Saint Louis University, writes that "In medieval Europe, heresy was a crime against the state. Local nobles, often greedy, illiterate, and eager to placate the mob, gleefully agreed to execute people accused of witchcraft or some other forms of heresy. By the 1100s, such accusations were causing such grave injustices that the Catholic Church's response to this problem was the Inquisition, first instituted by Pope Lucius III in 1184."
Journalist Jonah Goldberg, a Jew, writes, "When Obama alludes to the evils of medieval Christianity, he fails to acknowledge the key word: 'medieval.' What made medieval Christianity backward wasn't Christianity but medievalism." Mr. Goldberg continues, "President Obama can't bring himself to call the Islamic State 'Islamic,' but he's happy to offer a sermon about Christianity's alleged crimes at the beginning of the last millennium."
President Obama concluded his presentation with, "And so, as people of faith, we are summoned to push back against those who try to distort our religion."
Our religion? As one who, as president, still wears on the third finger, left hand, a gold ring with the inscription, "There is no God except Allah,"
one has to wonder just what religion he references.