In response to President Obama’s ignorant exercise in moral equivalency in invoking the Crusades and the Inquisition, ( as T.Shaw noted fewer people were turned over for execution by the Inquisition, actually Inquisitions, in all of history than die in American abortion clinics on any week day), go here to read about it, Jonah Goldberg quotes from his book Tyranny of Cliches which explains why such Catholic bashing is ahistoric and unfair:
As a fairly secular Jew I cannot and will not speak to the theological questions, in part because I do not want to. But mostly because I do not have to. The core problem with those who glibly invoke one cliché after another about the evils of organized religion and Catholicism is that they betray the progressive tendency to look back on the last two thousand years and see the Catholic Church — and Christianity generally — as holding back humanity from progress, reason, and enlightenment. They fault the Church for not knowing what could not have been known yet and for being too slow to accept new discoveries that only seem obvious to us with the benefit of hindsight. It’s an odd attack from people who boast of their skepticism and yet condemn the Church for being rationally skeptical about scientific breakthroughs.
In short, they look at the tide of secularism and modernity as proof that the Church was an anchor. I put it to you that it was more of sail. Nearly everything we revere about modernity and progress — education, the rule of law, charity, decency, the notion of the universal rights of man, and reason were advanced by the Church for most of the last two thousand years.
But isn’t the greater madness to make a real force for good the enemy because the forces of self-anointed perfection claim to have some glorious blueprint for a flawless world sitting on a desk somewhere? It is a Whiggish and childish luxury to compare the past — or even the present — to a utopian standard. Of course there was corruption, cruelty, and hypocrisy within the Church — because the Church is a human institution. Its dark hypocrisies are the backdrop that allow us to see the luminance of the standard they have, on occasion, fallen short of. The Catholic Church was a spiritual beacon lighting the way forward compared to the world lit only by fire outside the Church doors.
You know that you live in loony tunes times when a secular Jew like Goldberg has a better appreciation for the role of the Church in History than some Catholic bloggers: (Ahem, that is your cue Mark:)
“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…
“So this is not unique to one group or one religion. There is a tendency in us, a sinful tendency that can pervert and distort our faith. In today’s world, when hate groups have their own Twitter accounts and bigotry can fester in hidden places in cyberspace, it can be even harder to counteract such intolerance. But God compels us to try. And in this mission, I believe there are a few principles that can guide us, particularly those of us who profess to believe.
“And, first, we should start with some basic humility. I believe that the starting point of faith is some doubt — not being so full of yourself and so confident that you are right and that God speaks only to us, and doesn’t speak to others, that God only cares about us and doesn’t care about others, that somehow we alone are in possession of the truth.” (source)