President Obama’s speech at the Prayer Breakfast received some backlash after he was quoted equating the terrorist groups that use Islam as justification for violent acts with those of Christians in history, citing incidents such as the Crusades or the Spanish Inquisition.
Obama brazenly went on to remind listeners that the Jim Crow laws were also backed by the Christian sensibilities of their time, and urged them not to judge Islam as evil in itself, but to hold individuals accountable for their actions.
Following the speech, the purpose of President Obama’s statement was questioned. White House Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz backed Obama’s message as being one of tolerance and self-accountability, noting the president’s patriotism and love of his country. Other lawmakers took little issue with the message, but the method in which it was delivered. Offended by the comparison between the crimes in the past committed by Christian extremists and the actions of Islamic extremists in the modern world, several political voices arose in its opposition.
Former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore expressed his emotions to the Washington Post, having taken great offense to President Obama’s speech. He believed the message was a jab at Christians and a sign of Obama’s distaste for American values.