A great deal has been made about President Obama's address at the Annual Prayer Breakfast regarding the heinous acts of ISIS/ISIL (seriously, let's just pick one and move on), but also the historical damage of violent acts in the name of religion throughout history, specifically Christianity, and specifically the Crusades and Inquisitions (yes, this was not a singular event). Many in the Christian community are appalled at the President's remarks because they seem to be a moral qualifier meant to limit our judgment of terrorists' full spectrum attack on all of humanity.
The blunder of the President's (and most of Western culture's) lack of knowledge about the reality of the Church's role in the Crusades and Inquisitions has been more than adequately dealt with in the Catholic Christian blogosphere, so as a starting premise and recap of those posts, U.S. drone attacks (not including other Western nations) number more per attack than were actually lost in a year in the Inquisitions, and the Crusades were actually mounted in defense of Christian lands against the attack of Muslim armies. Yes, we were defending Christian lands against against what was then, mainstream Islam. Today is a much different story, including the much smaller percentage of Muslims involved, and to equate historical events like these with today's bloody genocides is as intellectually dishonest as it is just plain ridiculous, and here's why:
In a span of 250 years in the Spanish Inquisition, the number of people killed by secular authorities was about 3,000; that amounts to about 12 per year. Compare that with just the targeted drone strikes by the U.S. today under President Obama himself. Here are some numbers:
24- the number of terrorist men targeted in Pakistan by this administration
874- the number of people killed in those attacks
142- the number of children killed in those attacks
6- the number of targeted men who actually died in those "targeted" attacks
Now, math isn't exactly my strong suit, and that's one of many reasons I write, but I'm pretty sure that beats the Spanish Inquisition (again, secular rulers doing this), both in percentage of people vs. those "targeted" and in the sheer volume for the length of time, not to mention the inclusion of innocent children among the collateral damage of the "targeted, surgical pressure to the groups that threaten us" (John Brennan, CIA director). That "moral high ground" the President is standing on is beginning to look more like a small iceberg than a "high horse." As a side note to address the President's, "People committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ," allegation, the original intent of the Inquisition was not massacre, but was an investigation to respond to a heresy that was causing great confusion within the Church, and people were given a great number of opportunities to recant, convert, defend themselves, etc. before being given fairly light penances, excommunication (this doesn't mean death), with death only being imposed by secular rulers (as a last resort).
So, what's my point? The point is, like I tell my children, just because someone does something mean to you, it doesn't justify returning the favor...certainly not several centuries later, when the basis for that claim is bogus anyhow. We can't use excuses, and fairly unhistorical ones to justify the violence of today, so rather than putting down a faith that created and operates hospitals, universities, orphanages, and other centers of humane and merciful care for people of all beliefs, perhaps the President should reconsider his own "targeted killing" policies. The killings perpetrated by these radicals are also "targeted"; does that still make it okay, or is it simply that, rather than commanding someone to press a button in secret, they instead viciously kill someone in front of a camera? Violence is never the answer, but our leaders must be honest about their own actions, keeping in mind that, the more we offer excuses for the behavior, the more it will continue, emboldened by the lies we believe are in our own history.
For a deeper historical exploration of the myths and truths of the Crusades, consider reading this article and its supporting documents.