I Hate Christendom?

According to Rick Santorum, I do.  Politico.com reported on Santorum’s appearance at Oakbrook Preparatory School, a private Christian academy in South Carolina where Santorum said “The idea that the Crusades and the fight of Christendom against Islam is somehow an aggression on our part is absolutely anti-historical,” adding, “And that is what the perception is by the American left who hates Christendom.”  He also said, “They hate Western civilization at the core. That’s the problem.”  He went on to laud our intervention in the Middle East, talking about how it promotes “core Christian values”, saying, “What I’m talking about is onward American soldiers,”…, “What we’re talking about are core American values. ‘All men are created equal’ — that’s a Christian value, but it’s an American value.”  Let’s take a look at these statements.

   Before I get into this, let me first issue a declaimer for first time readers: After years as a hardcore Right-winger, unrepentant Cold Warrior and (sometime) Defender of the Faith, I’ve recently switched sides and have slid to the Left.  That said, I feel at least somewhat qualified to answer Rick’s claims about how us Lefties think.  That said:

I suppose Rick meant that the Crusades weren’t unwarranted aggression, that Islam struck the first blow.  In that, he’s right; Muslims had invaded The Holy Land and, for a time, were attacking Christian pilgrims and destroying Christians sites and shrines.  However, before the first Crusader ever set out for the Middle East, the Muslim Caliphs had figured out that the wealth of that area came from the pilgrims and had stopped their depredations.  But, even if that wasn’t the case, if the Caliphs were slaughtering Christians by the thousands and tearing down every site of significance to Christians, it still wouldn’t justify going to war in the name of Christ.  The founder of the our faith, this Jesus guy who we talk so much about, had something to say about dealing with unprovoked attacks.  In the Sermon on the Mount, he told us “But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also;” and to “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”.  If you want an example of this, when the Temple Guards came to arrest Jesus, one of His followers cut off a guards ear.  Jesus’ response was to tell them to put up their swords and then he healed the guy’s ear.  I don’t think the Crusades quite live up to this standard.  If you want to get right down to it, from a Christian standpoint, there’s no such thing as “holy” or “just” war. 

Next, the good Mr. Santorum says that Americans who identify with the Left “hate Western civilization at the core”.  What an asinine statement.  How could I hate something that’s provided me with a lifestyle and level of comfort unprecedented in the history of the world?  And, I’ve received this largess solely through an accident of birth, not through anything I’ve done to earn or deserve it.  Just because I’m realistic and don’t bless and affirm every action the Western civilization has committed throughout history doesn’t mean I hate it.  On the contrary, I think it shows how much I love it because I’m willing to look at it, warts and all, and find ways to make it better. 

The statement ‘All men are created equal’ — that’s a Christian value, but it’s an American value” should also come in for scrutiny.  While the idea that “all men are created equal” is a Christian value may be correct, our application of that value has been less than perfect.  In the United States, that shining beacon of equality, the men who wrote the documents that espoused that very ideal didn’t truly consider all men equal.  These men held others in bondage and considered them worth a fraction of a white man at best.  Considering our history, it’s probably more correct to say that “All white men are created equal” is a core American value. 

Finally, we come to Santorum’s words that the American Left hates Christendom.  Now, if he was speaking in the context of  the collective Christian-dominated countries of the world, those where Christianity has held sway and even been the state religion, he’s absolutely right.  I hate the way this “Christendom” has perverted and corrupted the words of Jesus.  I hate the way they’ve used a faith built on loving your neighbor to further their political aims.  I hate the way they’ve corrupted the church and used it as a tool to control the masses.  I hate the way they’ve marginalized anyone who didn’t agree with them.  But, Rick, if you meant I hate God or the Christian faith, you’re dead wrong.  And, frankly, I’m little pissed that you implied that.