By Tom Ehrich

Despite the fuming of a former Republican governor, President Obama didn't "offend every believing Christian in the United States" when he noted that we, too, "committed terrible deeds" in the name of our religion.

I, for one, was pleased to have us called back from the "high horse" that Christian religionists often occupy when criticizing other faiths while ignoring the mote in our own eye.

In our pursuit of religious victory, we Christians have indeed been a scourge on civilization at times. We have slaughtered many. We have served as apologists for slavery, apartheid, racial segregation, white terrorism of blacks in the South, suppression of labor, repression of minorities sand the poor, and ethnic conflict throughout the nation.

We have winked at our own scandals while presuming to judge our neighbors for their flaws. We have sought special favors -- such as tax exemption -- and served only ourselves.

Our hands are stained. Plain and simple.

That doesn't excuse the horrific violence being meted out now by the Islamic State (ISIS) or by Boko Haram, both in the name of their religion. Violence is violence, terrorism is terrorism, and religion-justified cruelty is wrong, no matter whose holy book is being waved.

Christianity won't truly serve humanity, however, until we get honest about the ways we have done wrong and proclaimed our belief that God can use even us for good. Our message should be, We did wrong, God forgave us, and now, day by day, we try to get it right.

That is a Gospel promise that all of humanity needs to here. When we deny any culpability, we merely perpetuate ignorance and hubris in our own ranks and make us seem dishonest and dangerous in the eyes of the world.

Rather than pounce on the President for knowing his history, we should be grateful for a call to honesty.