Christian Soldiers

Feb 24, 2015

Photo by MPI/Getty Images

By Jamelle Bouie

The cliché is that Americans have a short memory, but since Saturday, a number of us have been arguing over medieval religious wars and whether they have any lessons for today’s violence in the Middle East.

For those still unaware, this debate comes after President Obama’scomments at the annual National Prayer Breakfast, where—after condemning Islamic radical group ISIS as a “death cult”—he offered a moderating thought. “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 … So this is not unique to one group or one religion. There is a tendency in us, a sinful tendency that can pervert and distort our faith.”

It’s a straightforward point—“no faith has a particular monopoly on religious arrogance”—that’s become a partisan flashpoint, as conservatives harangue the president for “equating” crusading Christians to Islamic radicals, accuse him of anti-Christian beliefs, and wonder why he would mention a centuries-old conflict, even if it has some analogies to the present day.

What we have missed in the argument over the Crusades, however, is Obama’s mention of slavery and Jim Crow. At theAtlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates puts his focus on religious justifications for American bondage, and it’s worth doing the same for its post-bellum successor. And since we’re thinking in terms of religious violence, our eyes should turn toward the most brutal spectacle of Jim Crow’s reign, the lynching.

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3 comments on “Christian Soldiers

  • Masking is a defense mechanism the thinking is that it will ease the preoccupation of survival. Delusional projections, also known as psychotic denial, reshapes reality to reduce a reality, regardless of how distorted, perceived as dangerous. Throughout history ersatz religious messengers of god, whether Christian, Islamists, or Hebrew have made the claim their god speaks to them directly or through someone accepted as a prophet. So the questions remain for self-appointed oracles how the deity speaks, how does the divine speaking become noticed, in what kind of voice does it have, what is the quality of that voice, what are the exact words, exactly when does the speaking take place, why should anyone believe these recipients of divine articulations if in fact they are receivers of such vocalizations?

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