The Christian, Jewish and Islamic communities know something about holy war.
Over 900 years ago, Pope Urban II began the first Crusade by rallying Christian soldiers to help reclaim Christendom — including “the” Holy Land of Jerusalem — back from Islamic control. In their efforts, these militants killed entire Jewish communities in one of the world’s very first attempts at organized antisemitism.
The body count is lost to time and remains argued about among historians, who now refer to the event as, “the People’s Crusade.” Tragically, most of these impoverished soldiers marched to war because they had been promised everlasting salvation in heaven if they took part in the bloodshed. Sound familiar? The Koran reads: “Whoso fighteth in the way of Allah, be he slain or be he victorious, on him We shall bestow a vast reward.”
Now here’s a quote from the Christian Bible: “’But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them — bring them here and kill them in front of me.’” Jesus said this explicitly, in a book we give to kids.
The Similarity of the Faithful
As you can see, the major world religions aren’t really very different. They’ve all touted violence, to one degree or another. But here’s the key difference: Most modern practitioners of these religions don’t kill, maim or plunder for their gods anymore. Most of them worship quietly and try to love each other.
Any conversation about how to talk about Christianity in the modern world needs to begin with the Crusades — it’s a chapter of religious history that most of us want to forget. Nevertheless, it binds together the destinies of the three warring Abrahamic religions — Christianity, Judaism and Islam.
You’ve likely noticed that very few Christians kill people in the name of their faith these days. And yet, there’s an almost shocking amount of animosity surrounding this religion, perpetuated both by believers and skeptics.
Pause the Battle Between Christians and Liberals
Liberal-minded people blame Christians for holding society back in the name of superstition, while Christians use modern politics to fight back against what they see as not just marginalization, but active persecution.
We often hear liberals talking about Christians and conservatives as though they are one and the same — and that’s a dangerous thing. As we’ve seen lately, generalizations are nothing but trouble.
As a result of a recognizable correlation between extreme conservatism and Christian religiousness, at least in America, many liberals make damaging assumptions about the Christian community. We’re meant to believe all Christians are judgmental — even hateful — where homosexuals, Muslims and women are concerned.
And that brings me to the “liberal agenda” worried over by Christians from coast to coast. To hear many Christians tell it, Liberals want to “stamp out” religion. Liberals want to kill God and drag His corpse from our classrooms. Evidently, many Christians are just as willing to make grand assumptions about their “enemies” as liberals are about theirs.
There are a few exceptions to this black and white thinking — an empowered new Christian Left is hoping to resolve some of these issues.
Trouble is, none of the grand assumptions are necessarily true.
Understand the Truth About Persecution
There’s no doubt in my mind that many believers are treated with contempt by their liberal counterparts. I don’t condone this, and I certainly don’t think it’s constructive in these troubled times. It’s relevant for both parties to take a step back and consider what’s happening on the world stage.
Elsewhere, atheists, Muslims, Christians and Jews are all beaten, beheaded or otherwise brutalized because of what they believe — or don’t believe. Liberals and Christians both want a world order fueled by their respective ideologies — we’ve simply stopped using the sword to obtain it.
Now, our weapons are politics and the bully pulpit.
To the Christians reading this: It might not feel like it, but most liberals aren’t bothered by what you choose to believe. They simply want a Separation of Church and State. Freedom of religion and freedom from religion are the same thing.
To the non-Christian liberals out there: We simply cannot continue demonizing an entire belief system. Christianity is not synonymous with extremist conservatism. If liberals really want the world to believe they have a moral high ground, they need to start acting like it. We’ve had enough bluster and bullying from both sides.
Grow Together to Stay Strong
Since the majority of people don’t kill each other in the name of their faith anymore, we’re headed in the right direction. All we need now is to pick up the pieces of our damaged political brands and strained relationships.
We all have way more in common than we want to admit — we’re all imperfect human beings with even more imperfect institutions. The sooner we recognize that, the sooner we can all come together.