However, the subsequent rush to defend the Crusades by many of my fellow Christ-followers was downright embarrassing. At first, I thought it was a joke - something like the Onion. Surely no one would actually try to defend the Crusades. But, the more I read and saw posted, the more I blushed. It was true. Which meant that the hatred towards President Obama was felt so hotly by some that they would seek to actually defend one of the darkest moments in Church history.
Now, I know that some have taken pains to point out the larger context surrounding Crusade history and the various pressures that gave rise to a war between European and Islamic powers. This is well and good. A passing reference to the Crusades as "bad" is certainly abbreviating matters. However, it isn't abbreviating matters incorrectly. Yes, there were genuine acts of piety and golden feats of heroism along with understandable and necessary military campaigns designed for legitimate defensive aims. But, the Crusades featured so much evil and of such a wretched sort and so blatantly "in the name of Christ" that the only reasonable response of the modern day disciple of Jesus is to lament.
I would respectfully urge those who have tried to defend the Crusades to read this very solid NYTimes article on the first victims of the First Crusade.
If the massacre of Jews that started off the Crusades had been the only atrocity committed, it would be enough for me to condemn the whole affair. But, so much more would follow.
Our history is what it is. And there is a lot of garbage there. And none of it makes any of the horrors being carried out by ISIS, Boko Haram, etc. even the least bit more acceptable or understandable. Indeed, it seems to me that the Church today would find its prophetic word all the more powerful in the face of such evils if we could soundly and unanimously condemn the sin we ourselves have been guilty of in the past.