United States President Barack Obama suffered a huge backlash Friday after comparing the terror organization Islamic State to the Christian Crusaders of the Middle Ages.
In his speech before the National Prayer Breakfast Thursday, Obama condemned ISIS and their tactics, as well as terrorists who "profess to stand up for Islam, but in fact, betray it."
"We see ISIL, a brutal, vicious death cult that, in the name of religion, carries out unspeakable acts of barbarism – terrorizing religious minorities like the Yazidis, subjecting women to rape as a weapon of war, and claiming the mantle of religious authority for such actions."
However, things turned messy when he Obama linked contemporary terrorism with violent acts from the time of the Crusades, noting that people also "committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ."
Obama argued that the "humanity has been grappling" with the the two sides of faith – the "profound good…that can flow from all of our faiths and "those who seek to hijack religious for their own murderous ends" – for centuries.
“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.”
Those comments provoked a storm that saw Christian leaders, political opponents, amateur historians, and experts all chiming in.
On Twitter, people accused Obama of conveniently ignoring the Muslim aggression that preceded the Crusades, while others said the President was drawing "simplistic analogies" and minimizing the atrocities committed by ISIS.
Several Republicans were also outraged.
Former Virginia governor Jim Gilmore called Obama's remarks "the most offensive I've ever heard a president make in my lifetime."
"He has offended every believing Christian in the United States. This goes further to the point that Mr. Obama does not believe in America or the values we all share.”
Robert Jeffress, a senior pastor of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas said that "Jesus would be outraged" by the President's mischaracterization.
Speaking on the "O'Reilly Factor" on Fox News, Jeffress argued there was no "moral equivalency" for violent acts committed by Christians in comparison to the "millions of people slaughtered by Muslim extremists."
White House officials defended Obama, with aides noting that the President had wanted to be purposely provocative and show how ISIS fits in with broader global history.
Although, no one expected such a backlash or debate.
"He wanted to make the point that this isn't the first time we've seen faith perverted and it won't be the last," a senior advisor said.