I’m supposed to be finishing my sermon for Sunday, but I’m taking a quick reprieve.
I am genuinely nonplussed by some of the blowback I’ve seen from the President’s words at yesterdays Prayer Breakfast.
Like this, from former Virginia governor Jim Gilmore (sadly, bearing no resemblance to the Gilmore Girls), ““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.”
No. Not really, Jim. Actually, not at all, Jim.
Then the Rev. Graham (dang… the younger one) said on his Facebook page, “the President implied that what ISIS is doing is equivalent to what happened over 1,000 years ago during the Crusades and the Inquisition.”
No. Not really, Frank.
What he said was, “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.”
And before that, “As we speak, around the world, we see faith inspiring people to lift up one another…We see faith driving us to do right. But we also see faith being twisted and distorted, used as a wedge — or, worse, sometimes used as a weapon.”
This is his central premise. That faith, religion, and religious people, have the capacity to do both inspiring and wonderful things, as well as terrible and wicked things.
The point being, that before we get quick to judge other religions, and judge the wicked acts done from within the extremist groups within them, we would do well to acknowledge the fact that OUR OWN RELIGION (assuming you’re a Christian. And I am one.) also has some pretty nasty stains on our historical tapestry.
Why does it feel like people are not wanting to admit that?
It feels to me that in people rushing to criticize the President, and in rushing to point out that WE are different from THEM because “our” founder is different (read, better) than “their” founder (read, worse), it just starts to feel like there’s these overtones of trying to somehow excuse away our stains.
To try and suggest that our stains our somehow less awful than their stains.
Who would want to defend that? And why? To what end?
It really truly is okay, if you call yourself a Christian, to own up to the fact that not all Christians are awesome, and the history of Christianity is fraught with hard-to-explain (and therefore don’t try, because you sound like you’re excusing it) difficulties.
Even if you believe whole heartedly that what Jesus stood for, and what Muhammad stood for, are not in the same ballpark, this does not mean that people throughout history haven’t done wicked things under the name of both figures.
They say that the end doesn’t justify the means… but neither does the beginning.*
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*That was it. That was the “one sentence that would change what you think.” And, obviously, it didn’t. But that’s how clickbait works. It tells you lies.