President Barack Obama caused a lot of backlash when he said at Thursday's National Prayer Breakfast that Christians shouldn't get on a "high horse" over Islamic extremism, and "Meet the Press"
host Chuck Todd thinks that might be just what he was aiming for.
"I have my own theory," NBC host Todd told guest Jon Meacham, who has written on the history of Christianity in America. "He's not a big fan of the Prayer Breakfast, … and I think he almost enjoys creating a rhetorical debate."
Meacham, Random House executive editor and author of "American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers and the Making of a Nation," wondered why Obama would even bring up the Crusades and the Inquisition in comparison to modern-day Islamic terrorists.
Obama, he said, failed to mention that the Crusades were "an exception to a rule. And the rule of Christian history in the Middle Ages forward into the modern era was one of Christian humanism. The Crusades ended and the Renaissance began."
Meacham said it is inarguable that Christian faith contributed largely to the rise of democratic capitalism.
"So if you're going to start this debate, it's better not to do it with one or two sentences," he said.
Christianity managed to reform itself over the years, he said, with dark chapters, that ultimately worked toward the light. The hope is that Islam will do the same, he said.
"I'm just not sure how many people are on that 'high horse,'" he added. "So it's a little bit contextless, too."
NBC's chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell appeared later, telling Todd, "You don’t use the word 'Crusades' in any context right now, it’s just too fraught."
"And the week after a pilot is burned alive, in a video shown, you don’t lean over backwards to be philosophical about the sins of the fathers," she said. 'You have to deal with the issue that’s in front of you or don’t deal with it at all."
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