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I enjoyed President Obama’s speech at the National Prayer Breakfast. The backlash from many Christians (some that I greatly admire) is hard to understand. I don’t understand how believers could defend – or would want to defend – the Crusades or the Inquisition. You just can’t. They are two terrible atrocities carried out by Christians.

Reading the entire transcript of President Obama’s speech, I found his speech to be a good one. He spoke about humility, injustice and peace. He went in to how troubling it is when religious groups commit acts of violence in the name of God. It’s hard to see people take a paragraph out of context and run with it. His comparison of what ISIS is doing in the Middle East to the Crusades rattled some Christians, but it doesn’t make it less true. Acting in offense, as many have done (even going so far as to downplay past atrocities in essence saying “Yeah, but what they are doing isn’t as bad as what we did”) is a dangerous game.

Obama didn’t say Islam has no problems and he has condemned the actions of radicals many times. Some have used the excuse that the Crusades happened 800 years ago so it isn’t applicable. My answer to that is that Jesus died 2000 years ago and that is very much applicable. When Obama mentioned Christian’s high involvement in the Jim Crow laws, it’s simply not enough to say how there were some Christians who did the right thing. We can find heroes in all faiths who have done the right thing when it is hard to do or unbelievers who have fought for civil rights, human rights and other freedoms.

Greg Boyd points out that our violence may be worse:

“In fact, for followers of Jesus, the violence perpetrated by “Christians” throughout history ought to be considered far worse than the violence perpetrated by ISIS or any other religious group throughout history, precisely because this violence was done in the name of Jesus. Whereas other forms of religious violence harm people, Christian violence also brought – and still brings – tremendous harm to the kingdom of God. While the church is supposed to attract people to Christ by the beauty of our Jesus-imitating self-sacrificial love, violence in Jesus’ name drives people away and justifies their hatred and unbelief.”

Finally, I think the primary reason I feel differently then many Christians on this speech is that my expectation of the President is different. I love our President and am often proud of him but I do not look to him as my King. He is a leader in the kingdom of this world, the kingdom of America, the kingdom of Caesar. I can’t expect him (or any leader in the government – Republican or Democrat) to pursue the ways of Kingdom of God because they are pursuing the Kingdom of America. Jesus is the King whom we are to follow and his Kingdom looks vastly different than the kingdom that President Obama (or Bush, Clinton, Reagan, etc) has worked for.

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