President Obama referencing the ills done in Christianity's name in pointing out that the atrocities of ISIL are a result of people hijacking the name of religion to sanctify the evil they do to humanity. I'm sure the subtlety of the point missed them entirely--even some liberals thought the remarks were a misstep. But what I appreciate is that he is telling the Bog-honest truth.
I'm an atheist in practice and theory. I'm not a great one--I guess I'd be considered a "faitheist" because I still hold truck with aspects of spirituality and the life invisible, and derive moral inspiration in some of what has been written by proponents of various faiths--but on the whole, my use for organized religion is very slim and my sense that one's own dealing with matters of the soul is one's own damn business on account of one being born and dying alone pretty much settle it for me. I've never been especially angry at the "Old Man in the Sky" image people boil Himself down to. I just take it for granted that if there is a universal intelligence, I'm a cog compared to it, and even if I'm being the best little cog I can be, my opinions on the matter don't count for a lot. But being an atheist means I am well and truly exposed to the anti-religion POV. And that means a nice soaking in history and its evils--including the part religion plays.
ISIL, as I've pointed out previously, is way more nihilist than anything else. This recent burning alive of a Jordanian pilot has been declared un-Islamic by clerics. The actions of groups like ISIL or Boko Haram need to be alienated from the whole religion they are making a mockery of because it is within Islam that any reformative action against extremism needs to be made.
The quote regarding the Crusades, I am sure, is not what rankled much Christianist ire. Although it is the case that the saying "Kill them all and let God sort them out" came from the Crusades. The Catholic massacre of the Cathars stands out in my mind as a sore point of Christian barbarity. The various Inquisitions (there were more than one, in several principalities, throughout Europe, and lo and behold, there were even Protestant ones--for example in Ireland) involved torture and even sometimes burning people alive. History is fucking brutal and we descended from apes. Shit is flung and backs get broken with stones (peine forte et dure). So what? The enlightened Roman Republic put down a slave rebellion and warned off other slaves (one of every three people--is that mad?) by crucifying the army of Spartacus, lining the Appian Way with six thousand bodies. The Empire that followed even crucified a Palestinian Jew in a way we still gawk about two thousand years later.
No--it's the business about slavery being preached from the US pulpits--as it was, and segregation being preached from the pulpits, which it was, that might have moved some believers to shame.
Let unbelieving me set you straight, Christian soldiers--it was Christian abolitionists, and Christian ministers who put their bodies on the line in nonviolent protest of racism who set our house right again. Those travesties about human dignity masquerading as the word of the Lord were squashed, eventually, by the power of people guided by faith. This isn't a dig against Christianity in America, but a story about how people did overcome. As it needs to be for today's Muslims who are fearful about their present need to overcome the stupidity and violence of extremists like ISIL, who faithlessly use the word of God to justify arbitrary and publically disgusting displays of disregard for human life.
We can not look at religion alone as the culprit in this evolving story about how we live on this planet together. And I'm also sorry, American public, but if you want to be offended by beheadings and men burned alive, you need to swallow what daisy cutter bombs, and the next-gen napalm and white phosphorus contraption called the Mark 77 did to Iraqis, and understand that a society in constant war since the early 1960's probably does have a perspective about violence, knowledge of it, intimacy with it, that we don't. We lost the moral high road with Abu Ghraib and Fallujah--don't actually try and pretend the moral battle got lost when President Obama pointed out that our shit stinks, too. It's just a fact.
I wish more people were historically literate enough that this shit did not have to be constantly explained, but I guess it does. I apologize for President Obama as one of his voters--he thought everyone was better informed. I know people aren't.