The president is catching criticism this week for reminding the American public that Christianity had a past of justifying unethical actions in the name of god, similar to modern jihad groups. He defended his analogy with examples such as the Crusades and Jim Crow Laws. Comparing Crusaders to ISIS at his speech attending the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington D.C. seemed to offend his audience according to most major media outlets. ABC news was first on the scene to defend the crusades claiming that the Catholic church sometimes encouraged violence, but nothing extreme for the Middle Ages. Although some could argue the crusades defined the middle ages in brutality. Contrary to popular opinion, President Obama’s comparison makes historical sense.
The Crusades originated in 1096, when Pope Urban II ordered the Christian armies of western Europe to take the Holy Land from the Muslim Turks. He enticed soldiers with glory, wealth, and salvation for life. Although the Turks were fairly new to ruling over the Holy Lands of the three major monotheistic religions of the world; Jerusalem was in Muslim Arab control since 629. There were eight major crusades, including at least two on fellow Christian city-states, and incredibly amount of small-scale invasions sparking nearly four hundred years of religious warfare ending with the separation of Christianity into three different sects: Orthodox Christians, Catholic, and eventually Protestant.
Today in the middle east, ISIS, or the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, claims significant land in Iraq and Syria, declaring century old sharia law as a standard. Offering minority religious groups they come across a warning of death or heavy taxation. The group formed an as minor resistance in 1999, into a branch of Al-Qaeda in 2003, and have been associated with nine major civil wars and insurgencies in the region. They have lost what little international support they maintained publicly when burning a Jordanian military hostage alive. Islam and the Koran strictly prohibit fire as a means of death. ISIS was able to establish territory in the wake of a multi-front Syrian civil war and a collapsing Iraq.
To conclude, both groups used religion and faith in god to promote warfare and extreme violence. A major difference is that the Crusades were openly sponsored and financed by Church administration, leaders, and clergy. Where as ISIS is funded mainly by black market activities (oil, guns), taxes, and countries that seek economic gain from the instability of Syria or Iraq.
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Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/obamas-speech-at-prayer-breakfast-called-offensive-to-christians/2015/02/05/6a15a240-ad50-11e4-ad71-7b9eba0f87d6_story.html?wpisrc=nl_headlines&wpmm=1