If you were to engage in a debate about religious violence with your average high school senior, you might encounter the claim that the modern scourge of religiously-inspired barbarity attributable to those who consider themselves Muslims is no historical anomaly. They might contend that the Christian world engaged in its own form of fundamentalism at the turn of the first millennium when the medieval European world embarked on a campaign to liberate the Middle Eastern territories conquered by Muslim armies. Having erected a dubious moral equivalency, your interlocutor is likely to then insist that it is hypocritical for Westerners to scold the Muslim world for incubating a violent strain of Islam that has become one of the predominant threats to international security.
This was essentially the familiar argument President Barack Obama made at the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday. After conceding that there will likely always be those who will seek to “hijack religion for their own murderous ends,” he reminded his audience that Islam is merely following a dark path forged centuries ago by Christians.