Acton Institute Powerblog

The Crusades, Because Sometimes You Just Need A Picture

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No doubt the Crusades have a long and complex history. Today, debate over exactly what the Crusades were about and why they were fought still continues.

Thankfully, you now have a simple picture to help fend off silly statements. You are welcome.

crusades info

Missionaries of Republicanism: A Religious History of the Mexican-American War

Missionaries of Republicanism: A Religious History of the Mexican-American War

The term "Manifest Destiny" has traditionally been linked to U.S. westward expansion in the nineteenth century, the desire to spread republican government, and racialist theories like Anglo-Saxonism. Yet few people realize the degree to which Manifest Destiny and American republicanism relied on a deeply anti-Catholic civil-religious discourse. John C. Pinheiro traces the rise to prominence of this discourse, beginning in the 1820s and culminating in the Mexican-American War of 1846-1848. Pinheiro begins with social reformer and Protestant evangelist Lyman Beecher, who was largely responsible for synthesizing seemingly unrelated strands of religious, patriotic, expansionist, and political sentiment into one universally understood argument about the future of the United States. When the overwhelmingly Protestant United States went to war with Catholic Mexico, this "Beecherite Synthesis" provided Americans with the most important means of defining their own identity, understanding Mexicans, and interpreting the larger meaning of the war. Anti-Catholic rhetoric constituted an integral piece of nearly every major argument for or against the war and was so universally accepted that recruiters, politicians, diplomats, journalists, soldiers, evangelical activists, abolitionists, and pacifists used it. It was also, Pinheiro shows, the primary tool used by American soldiers to interpret Mexico's culture. All this activity in turn reshaped the anti-Catholic movement. Preachers could now use caricatures of Mexicans to illustrate Roman Catholic depravity and nativists could point to Mexico as a warning about what America would be like if dominated by Catholics. Missionaries of Republicanism provides a critical new perspective on Manifest Destiny, American republicanism, anti-Catholicism, and Mexican-American relations in the nineteenth century.

Elise Hilton Communications Specialist at Acton Institute. M.A. in World Religions.


  • Dan Hugger
  • bdlaacmm

    Thank you for this! I am so sick of today’s politically correct bashing of the Crusades. (I do reserve the right, however, to bash the 4th Crusade, tragically hijacked by Venetian merchants for their own profit.) If there was ever in history a “just war”, the 1st Crusade satisfies the requirements!

  • FA Miniter

    What a distorted view this “article” presents. There are so many points to attack, let me just choose a couple.

    1. Author seems to claim that Muslims were murderers and rapists and Christians were the good guys. Fact: When the crusaders took Jerusalem in 1099, they massacred every man, woman and child in the city, regardless of religion. When Salah ad-Din [Saladin] retook the city in 1187, despite what the crusaders had done, he allowed the inhabitants to leave for the payment of a small ransom each.

    2. The author claims the crusaders were not out for money. But the mostly French rulers of the Kingdom of Jerusalem from 1099 to 1291 took the city and surrounding lands for themselves, intermarried with the Orthodox rulers of Constantinople, and lorded it over the local inhabitants. Raynald de Chatillon was about as evil a human being you would ever hope to avoid. To provoke Saladin, he engaged in attacks on caravans (considered protected entities) and slaughtered the people associated with the caravans and took all of the wealth of those traders. These activities were sanctioned by Guy de Luignan, then King of Jerusalem.

  • la diabla blanca

    re: The ad for the book Missionaries of Republicanism on this page -‘ “Beecherite Synthesis” provided Americans with the most important means of defining their own identity, understanding Mexicans, and interpreting the larger meaning of the war.’ I have a difficult time believing anti-Catholicism was THE core uniting factor. I mean, I am a gringo cradle Catholic who has lived here in Texas for most of my fifty-some years, and having lived with Mexicans, I can tell you there are a LOT of reasons I like living in the good old “racialist” “Anglo-Saxon” USA. Respect for my own language and culture is one of them, although that doesn’t always happen in the Church…

  • Todd Johnson

    Infographics are a great way to get complex points across and hopefully engage people in difficult conversations. Facts are the best way to dispel the revisionist history efforts, but your graphic doesn’t offer many factual references which would bolster your points. Thanks for sharing.