A Letter to President Obama

Dear President Obama,

I am writing so that I can learn first-hand what motivated you to say the following at the National Prayer Breakfast earlier this month:

And 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.  Michelle and I returned from India — an incredible, beautiful country, full of magnificent diversity — but a place where, in past years, religious faiths of all types have, on occasion, been targeted by other peoples of faith, simply due to their heritage and their beliefs — acts of intolerance that would have shocked Gandhi, the person who helped to liberate that nation.

I am concerned about your contentious remarks as well as the message you sent.

First, the use of the metaphor “high horse” was particularly egregious.  If anyone was on a high horse, it was you—lecturing the audience on the supposed misdeeds committed in the name of Christ.

Second, do you honestly believe what you said above, particularly the phrase, “…remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ,” or were you simply speaking off the cuff?  If the former, then how do you respond to Bill Donahue’s call for an apology for that remark?  Do you understand the history of the crusades well enough to make a blanket statement like that?  Furthermore, do you equate the instances you mention above with the terror perpetrated by ISIS in the Middle East?  Soldiers and sailors have spoken about how evil these terrorists are.  I’d like to hear that you are giving the soldiers and sailors the leadership they need to defeat this enemy instead of hearing about how this enemy is not unique in world history.

Lastly, did you believe that your audience needed to hear this message?  Do you have some specific knowledge of Christian leaders in this country who are condoning or allowing terror to be committed in the name of their religion?  I admit that the general message of rooting out evil in our communities is a good message, and one that is appropriate for the leader of this country to deliver.  America should continue to be a light to the world.  I’d like to believe that your contentious remarks were simply ill-considered.  I know that some in the media have already judged them to have been spoken from malice or ignorance.

Please respond to my questions as I would very much appreciate learning your intents and purposes first-hand rather than inferring them from second and third hand sources.

Sincerely,

Casey Barker

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