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The Truth About the Crusades

When President Obama cited the Crusades as an example of Christian bad behavior toward Islam, he wasn't speaking with historical accuracy.  But you'd never know that if you only know the conventional wisdom about the Crusades.

Instead of condemning ISIS barbarism as barbarism directed at Christians, Obama has sought to divorce the barbarism from theology. There are many reason for this, reasons covered by many others here at PJ Media and elsewhere.  Among them is the fact that Obama and his movement see the world through such thick secular lenses that they are incapable of understanding the vast majority of the world (and the United States) that still sees the world through theological lenses.

Obama and his followers are a radical secular minority attempting to manage a theological world.

One person who hasn't been afraid to name the nature of the ISIS barbarism is Pope Francis.  Francis gave a homily this past week that spoke of "our brother Copts, whose throats were slit for the sole reason of being Christian."

It wasn't because of a lack of jobs in Libya.

Francis spoke with the moral clarity we used to associate with presidents.

When President Obama cited the Crusades as an example of Christian bad behavior, he echoed the anti-Western, anti-Christian narrative popular among ISIS and American academics.

In this week's issue of the Arlington Catholic Herald, we find another instance of moral and historic clarity, this time about the Crusades.  It's worth a read to shatter the conventional wisdom about the Crusades.

How did we get to this point?  As Father William Saunders writes in the Catholic Herald:

Given the circumstances in which we live and with so many politicians referring to Islam as a “peaceful religion,” the subject of the Crusades is used not only to ameliorate the atrocities of Islamic extremists but also to discredit Christianity, particularly the Catholic Church. Also, too many people only have knowledge of the Crusades through a superficial and selective presentation of events as presented on the History Channel or by the politically correct intelligentsia.

What circumstances gave rise to the Crusades?  Again, Saunders:

When Pope Urban II declared the First Crusade, there was just cause. We must know the facts. Muslims believe Muhammad (570-632) had visions beginning in 610; in these visions, Allah literally dictated the Koran.  By 622, Mecca converted to Islam. Then, the warfare began, and Islam spread by the sword, i.e. jihad. Muhammad’s message was, “He who dies spreading the faith enters paradise.” Islam itself means “submission,” submission of everyone to Allah, Muhammad and the Koran.

Conversion alone wasn't adequate.  Conquest followed.

The Muslims then waged war beyond their borders: Damascus fell in 635, Jerusalem in 638 and Alexandria in 641. By 652, Syria, Palestine, Egypt and Persia had fallen to Islam. By 730, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Pakistan and Spain had fallen. The Muslims would have taken France, but Charles Martel stopped them at the Battle of Tours in 732. Remember: These were all Christian lands that were unjustly attacked. However, the Koran justified these acts: “True believers fight for the cause of God, but the infidels fight for the devil. Fight, then, against the friends of Satan” (Sura 4:76).

Christians and Jews in conquered lands were persecuted.  Churches were destroyed or seized.  Christians were forced to wear 10 pound crosses and Jews forced to carry a calf's head made of wood.

Fr. William Saunders Fr. William Saunders

How did the Christian West respond?  Saunders:

Finally, Christians realized action had to be taken. Righteous war had to be waged against jihad. The Christians had just cause. Byzantine Emperor Alexius (1080-1118) appealed to Pope Urban II for aid. On Nov. 18, 1095, at the Council of Clermont, the Holy Father said, “An accursed race ... has violently invaded Christian lands and depopulated them by pillage and fire. ... They have either destroyed God’s churches or taken them for the rites of their own religion.” So, as a last resort, the legitimate leaders with good intention declared a Crusade for just cause. Therefore, the declaration of a Crusade was an act of just war.

Imagine if Rudy Giuliani talked like this.