The Crusades are a go-to symbol of the hypocrisy and power-mongering that Christianity is sometimes accused of, even today. Nonetheless, the Pope's original goal seemed admirable: To provide Christians safe passage to Jerusalem. Their heritage, he believed, gave them a legitimate claim for inhabiting at least part of the city. But for this belief, Christians were willing to take up arms and kill those who opposed them. Many mortgaged everything they had to keep fighting.
Many today (including Christians) are aghast that such killing was committed in the name of Christ. People who read Jesus' words are bewildered at how such violent methods could have ever been justified. Many Christians even avoid warfare metaphors for their Crusade connotations. Yet, given the recent buying habits of American Christians, perhaps the Crusades still have things to teach us about the pitfalls of wielding power.
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