On Sunday’s Meet the Press on NBC, Chuck Todd proposed that President Obama intentionally slandered Christianity when he compared the medieval Crusades with modern Islamic terrorism at the National Prayer Breakfast because he is not a big fan of the event.
Todd’s guest on the program was historian and executive editor for Random House, Jon Meacham. The two were discussing Obama’s failure to employ historical context in his comparison and the lack of discretion in making such a statement at a faith-based event.
Meacham said, “If you’re going to start this debate, it’s better not to do it with one or two sentences.” He added, “My question is why he felt compelled to bring this up at all.”
Todd interrupted with his own theory about Obama:
He’s not a big fan of the prayer breakfast, I think. And I think he almost enjoys creating a rhetorical debate.
Meacham agreed and suggested that what was missing from Obama’s words was a reminder that Christianity went through a reformation — from “dark chapters…but ultimately working towards light.” He then chided the president for his timing:
The president brings up the sins of Christianity at a moment when the airwaves were full of the extremism of the Islamic world, and the perversions of that. The president, I think to some extent, missed an opportunity here. I think what you want to talk about is how does a civilization with dark impulses — because all civilizations are like that, we’re all fallen, we’re all sinful — how do we overcome those?
At the prayer breakfast, Obama said:
Unless we get on our high horse and think that this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and 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.
Reacting to that statement, Meacham stated:
I’m just not sure how many people are really on that high horse. So, I think it’s a little bit contextless, too.
Perhaps Obama dislikes the prayer breakfast because of the smackdown he got from Dr. Ben Carson in 2013.