Talk about the violence and barbarism of Islam and, like a talisman, the Crusades will be brought up as a counter argument. But is it a valid argument? That the crusades happened cannot be denied but most, if not all, appeals to the crusades to show that Christianity is no better are made out of ignorance to the historic facts.
Lets look at four myths about the crusades that are constantly trotted out as facts.
1. The crusaders invaded Palestine without provocation.
The truth is that by the time of the crusades there had been 500 years of Muslim aggression towards what had been Christian lands. In fact by the 10th century over half the Christian population of the world had been killed by Muslims.
The crusades started as the Pope’s response to the appeals of the Byzantines to stop the Muslim slaughter of pilgrims in the holy land. Charlemagne stopped the Muslim advance after they had overrun Spain and parts of France.
2. The western Christians went on the crusades to get rich.
This is just a foolish argument. The only people going on the crusades were noblemen who had the resources to do so. But they also had to sell of their properties to raise the money to go. Some of the crusades simply ran out of money. Louis IX’s seventh crusade cost 6 times the annual revenue of the crown. The Pope started charging indulgences in order to raise money.
This was not a venture to get rich. Did some get rich? Of course. As in any conflict there are some unscrupulous souls who will make money off the suffering of others but the motivation of the crusaders at large was to come to the aid of the Christians under the rule of the Muslims.
3. Crusaders did not truly believe their professed religious motives for going but had ulterior materialistic motives.
Really? Did you know that the chances of dying in the first crusade were 75%? Many, if not most, crusaders went knowing they probably would not return.
They were volunteers. They were not forced to participate. In fact sermons in churches would often highlight the difficulties that they would face. They were not told that they would receive worldly glory or wealth but pain, suffering and hardships. They went because they believed it to be the right thing to do.
4. The crusades taught Muslims to hate and attack Christians.
Hello! Muslims had been hating and attacking Christians for 5 centuries before the crusades because their end time eschatology taught that when the whole world was subdued under Muslim Sharia the Imam Mahdi would come. Therefore it was imperative that all Christian and Jewish land be conquered and their inhabitants forced to convert or pay the tax.
In the first 3 centuries of Islam 3200 churches were destroyed in North Africa alone.
Islam is and always has been a militant religion. Whatever the faults of other religions it does not take away from that fact. So the next time someone tries to throw the crusades in your face you just mention these few facts to set them straight.