Friday, February 6, 2015

Avoiding the past

During his address at yesterday’s National Prayer Breakfast, President Obama spoke truth. Too bad that some took it as an insult.

Denouncing those of any faith who "hijack religion for their own murderous ends," as quoted in the Christian Science Monitor, and most recently the so-called Islamic State, which he quite accurately referred to as a “death cult,” he also had a message for those who believed in their own moral superiority.

"Unless we get on our high horse and think that this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ," Obama continued. "In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often [were] justified in the name of Christ." That led to the predictable outrage from pundits on the Fox News Channel who said that he was disrespecting Christianity in the process.

But that ignores the way that, say, people of color have been regarded — by other Christians — over the years, and I can tell you that such resentment exists even today because we haven’t truly dealt with it as a church or nation.

Let’s never forget the civil-rights movement, which started in Southern black churches in the 1950s but received not only non-support from the rest of Christendom down there but, in many cases, outright condemnation, with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. being denounced as a communist despite his stated opposition to communism as “incompatible” with the Christian faith. And the Ku Klux Klan, which hasn’t had any real power for two generations but still exists in some form today, considers itself a Christian organization.

Something else you might want to consider: Have you noticed the large number of African-Americans with Arabic names? There’s a reason for that: Also around that time many, especially in Northern cities, began abandoning Christianity altogether for Islam, which in this country had no connection to the powers that be — in addition to being perceived as more truly culturally relevant, it was a way for them to thumb their nose at the “establishment.”

“But what about ‘them?’ ”, you may ask. “They’re trying to kill us!” And we’ll deal with that in its time. But killing Christians has done nothing to kill Christianity; similarly, taking out Muslims won’t stop Islam because, as the saying goes, “The tree of faith is watered with the blood of martyrs.” So before we complain about someone else’s barbarism, we ought to look at our own — and, more telling, our continued propensity for such.

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