(Salon) – Woe to the American president who says anything sensible on the subject of religion. President Obama forgot that unwritten rule recently at the National Prayer Breakfast when he pointed out what an eighth-grader could tell you: that acts of violence have been committed in the name of many faiths, not just Islam:
“Lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ. … So this is not unique to one group or one religion. There is a tendency in us, a sinful tendency that can pervert and distort our faith.”
Cue Christian right fake freakout. The holy rollers, naturally, seized the opportunity to present themselves as persecuted patriots defending America’s regular folk against godless liberal elites. They came charging out of the gate, sending blast after blast of ridiculousness across the media. Catholic League president Bill Donohue retorted that the Inquisition “only” piled up 1,394 bodies, while Rush Limbaugh professed Jim Crow to be something that is “not around today … a thousand years ago, yeah. But not today.” On Fox & Friends, Catholic priest Jonathan Morris warned viewers of a rising “Christianphobia,” a pernicious “hatred of Christians is on the rise in America.” Past and current Republican presidential candidates including Rick Santorum, Rudy Giuliani, Bobby Jindal, and Mike Huckabee hustled to outdo each other in their faux outrage, accusing the president of supporting only Muslims and setting himself against everything Christians stand for.