December 23rd, 2007
02:30 PM ET
6 years ago

Voter asks Obama about 'Muslim background'

Obama, who is not Muslim, has been trying to clear up voter misconceptions.

PLEASANTVILLE, Iowa (CNN) -– Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama was asked about his "Muslim background" by a potential voter at a coffee shop Saturday, and used the encounter as an opportunity to try to put to rest stories that he said had been "misreported."

Obama joined a group of four women in a booth to eat some pumpkin pie and sip a cup of tea. One of the women asked him how his "Muslim background" would affect his decisions as president.

"This is something that keeps on being misreported, so I’m glad you asked me," Obama, who is Christian, said.

He told them his father had lived in a Muslim-dominated village in Kenya, but “didn’t practice Islam."

"Truth is, he wasn’t very religious,” said Obama. “He met my mother. My mother was a Christian from Kansas, and they married, and then divorced. I was raised by my mother. So I’ve always been a Christian."

He also touched on the fact that he lived in the Muslim country of Indonesia for four years of his childhood.

"I didn’t practice [Islam]," Obama continued, but added that being in that area had given him "insight into how these folks think."

Just before being pulled away from the table by a staffer, Obama told the women he had been a member of the Trinity United Church of Christ for the past 15 years.


–CNN Iowa Producer Chris Welch

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • Iowa
soundoff (374 Responses)
  1. alan st louis


    YOUR racist remarks post will bring in more votes for OBAMA

    YOUR hatemongering remarks bring in more votes for OBAMA

    YOUR prejudice aginst islam and muslim will bring in more vote to OBAMA
    WE are not at war with muslim or islam, We are at war with extreamist, stop being a hipocrite every religion has there evil extreamist.

    I never seen any post on cnn since the election race started. That had solid real documented fact aginst OBAMA

    I guess that why Clinton and republicans have to resort to HATEMONGERING and RACISM to convince people not to vote for OBAMA

    This election is Evil Clinton and republicans status quo vs Good Obama for change

    And evil will use every hatemongering tactic, racist tactic, flat out lie, half truth to get it self into power.

    Just hope there is enuf good people voting this primary and general election to get Obama or Biden to win. It seems there a lot of people that need to read about Dr King and JFK the two that changed the morality of hatemongering and racist into tolarance and justice for all. IT is sad hatemongering is taking over our country. STOP the HATEMONGERING and vote OBAMA or BIDEN for change not status quo.

    December 24, 2007 07:05 am at 7:05 am |
  2. Ryan - (815) Illinois

    I don't understand why everyone makes such a great deal about what religion he has in his background, the same card can be played with his race. People need to realize that even though you come from a "untraditional" background, does not mean you automatically have "bad?" instincts or in this case, can not be the next President the United States of America. The realization of change needs to be seen.

    December 24, 2007 07:52 am at 7:52 am |
  3. ingraham, NYC, NY

    NO more Clinton dynasty and corrupted Health Industry.


    December 24, 2007 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  4. Jenny Vancouver, WA

    Religion.... bah humbug

    December 24, 2007 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  5. Gerald Shields

    Though I don't personally care about Obama's religion, it's a crime the way the conservatives and rivals are slandering him.

    December 24, 2007 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  6. Robert Benton, Nampa, Idaho

    Obama does not have my vote but I would like to say that what ever his religion is should have no merit on his capability to perform as President. What the American people need to ask is what will Obama do for the middle class who is struggling under high prices, loss of jobs due to outsourcing, the war on terrorism, both Iraq and Afghanistan just to name a few. His religion should be kept private and should not be part of the election process.

    December 24, 2007 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  7. John Tulsa, Ok

    The name Obama sounds too much like Osama. No Chance.

    December 24, 2007 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  8. Nancy Smith Holland, Ohio

    Mr. Obama states he has always been Christian because he was raised by his Mother and she was Christian. First of all Christian is not a church denomination, it is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It is not something that you can get from your parents or anyone else. It is a choice to by faith believe upon Jesus and live for him. I think Mr. Obama is using the term because he thinks it is what people want to hear.

    December 24, 2007 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  9. Kwame, Tulsa, Oklahoma

    Let me respond to Phemi. In foxnews came out with the story that Obama went to a Muslim school. It was researched by other news stations who actually went to the school and determined it was indeed non denominational. So pretty much your whole argument would go down the drain. Second why should he change his name? It was a name given to him by his father and in truth is a common name by Muslims and is in no way pledging allegiance to Saddaam or any one of those other physcos. Whats in a name anyways I always thought it was a man's actions that mattered. Barack's actions show that he is a true American. So I wonder why some of my fellow Christians continue to smear him or any other candidate (Mitt Romney) over religion. Then Bible says judge not or you will be jugde. It also says how can you look at your brother when there is something in your own eye. I simply say Hypocrites

    December 24, 2007 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  10. cole,niagarafalls canada

    I was talking to an old black gentleman last night and asked if he was going to vote for obama, he said no. he was voting for hillary. i asked why. he told me that obama was only for obama.but that hillary would be for all people. most blacks that i have talked to do not want obama.

    Posted By Hawk,Texas : December 23, 2007 11:43 am Because we blacks do not surpport our own all we do is complain about how white people oppress us but when our own people are out trying to make history we do not surpport them,Obama is going to be a role model for youths white,black,asian and hispanic i am black but the truth is we love to complain how unfair we are been treated but we keep our own people who can make changes from going up the ladder. i am not surprise some black will not vote for obama but Hillary instead because we keep thinking Bill clinton was the first black president even though he is white but one thing we blacks forget is he was the president of unite of america not black people and doing his time more black people were jailed. Truth is we so call african american are the one still enslaving ourself go Obama you have my vote but unfortunately i am not am american but i will pray for you cause i want kid growing up knowing we can can be anything we want in life we just need to have hopes and dreams.

    December 24, 2007 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  11. Richard, West Palm Beach, FL

    Especially when this country has not the best relations (to put this kindly) with the Muslim world is absolutely insane to consider electing a President who, like it or not, has some connections (and interests) elsewhere.

    Posted By Ed : December 23, 2007 6:50 pm


    We have twice elected Bush, whose father has direct ties to the bin Laden family. It is also obvious that someone high up approved that the bin Laden family was allowed to leave the U.S. right after 9/11 when no one else could fly. Bush has also said that he "isn't that concerned about (bin Laden)".

    Now give one example of ANYTHING that Barack Obama has done in the LAST 35 YEARS that demonstrates that he is a Muslim.

    December 24, 2007 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  12. Kevin, Landover, MD

    So many of these posts are done in the AM hours. That does not happen on here. So ALL those AM comments must be from Hillary’s Campaign. NO ONE else is going to be up in the early AM giving a hoot about this false smear. Everyone knows this is a false smear by Hillary. Hillary’s camp just think that if they repeat it enough times on this blog , that somehow it will change a vote. It will NOT work. She is confusing a General Election smear tactic with a Primary smear tactic. The problem is when she uses this now in early states that already knows Obama and she is currently losing in those states. Makes Hillary look desperate and Negative.

    December 24, 2007 09:50 am at 9:50 am |

    CNN does not want to report about the real issues. Americans do not want to know what one was thinking when they were in kindgarden or what religion they practiced when they were in Kindergarden. You need to let people Know what happened to Hillary Healthcare plan and what she said about the Nurses being overpaid when she was first lady. I think the best exprience she has is the failed Healthcare plan.

    December 24, 2007 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  14. Craig Finnegan, Madison, Wisconsin

    All this talk about religious affiliation of ANY kind is completely cancelled out in my mind by the fact that some of our worst possible choices in '08....I'm talking about Republicans like Romney....are the most loudly religious. I'm not saying we should ignore moral arguments and family values (which are, in fact, the most important issues to me in this coming election), I'm saying we shouldn't confuse those deeply internal realities with outward words, affiliations, or even actions.

    December 24, 2007 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  15. Major Man, Petersburg, VA

    Barack Obama was born in Hawaii. His dad left when he was two (a toddler). Thusly, he'd be inclined to follow his mom and grand parents into Christianity...

    However, he didn't start going to church actively until he was an adult and realized the impact of following Christ. There is no such thing as begin "a Christian by 'birth'."

    He mentions his middle name in speeches as he talks about how he's overcome the odds in life.

    Is Romney ashamed of his name "Williard"? Is Thompson ashamed of his name "Freddie"? Is Guiliani ashamed of his name "Rudolph"?

    December 24, 2007 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  16. Mohamed Ahmed , New York , New York

    So, everyone is asking about his Muslim background as it is a felony to have a muslim background. It is a shame that no one is questioning the question itself. I am wondering what will be the media response if he was Jewish and was asked about his jewish background or asked are you a jew!

    December 24, 2007 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  17. Desiree, Queens, New York

    You Obama people are really something, can't you compliment your candidate without tearing down the others. Grow Up, this is PRESIDENTIAL politics!!!!!

    Posted By connie floyd crockett, texas : December 23, 2007 10:43 pm

    I totally agree. And also not everyone who doesn't want to vote Obama is for Hillary or a Rebuplican, some of us do have a mind and it's okay to choose another canidate. There are many of reasons not to support Obama that doesn't have any thing to do with race or religion, maybe some people feel another canidate is better and they have a right to choose with out being attack by the Obama supporters. It's not personal it's politics!!!

    December 24, 2007 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  18. Brad, Stockton, CA

    And speaking to us from Pleasantville, Iowa...

    December 24, 2007 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  19. Tom - Dedham, Mass

    Sorry Clintonista's, this probable Hillary plant asked the question and it is posted on CNN and is nowhere to be found on Fox.

    This is not the Republicans's fault, it is not Fox's fault, it was one question asked by a "person" who could easily be a Clinton plant PERIOD.

    Bob Kerrey a DEMOCRAT and CLINTON supporter started this last week and they are getting great mileage out of it.

    Obama is a Christian and he has stated such, WHO CARES what his Father did as he is NOT RUNNING.

    Hillary is being TOLD to do this nice as hell tour with her Mommy and Chelsea while her surrogates are spewing the purposeful and hateful dirty politics, that includes Kerrey, Hubby and Shaheen along with PROVEN plants.

    Merry Christmas sheep.

    December 24, 2007 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  20. Kim, Dallas, TX

    In response to J, CA

    A person cannot be half Muslim and half Christian...those are religions that have very different beliefs. That's like saying my neices who are born from one Christian parent and one Jewish parent believe Jesus is our savior every other day and that he isn't on the off days? My guess is that Barack practiced a religion that felt more comfortable to him based on his beliefs. Therefore, even if he was exposed to Islam, he feels Christianity is the religion for him. I was brought up Methodist, but believe that there are values to all religions, afterall, the monotheistic religions all worship God. What's important is how a person lives their life and Barack definitely has many more good qualities than most of the other candidates in that respect.

    December 24, 2007 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  21. PS, KC, MO

    "The real question is; If Barak Hussein Obama is a Christian, why did did he go to a muslim school? Why is Barack's name still..Obama Hussein?
    America is not ready for a Leader with a muslim background."

    In order....
    I'm guessing he went to a muslim school because they are predominant in a muslim nation.
    His name is still Barack Hussein Obama because that's the one he was born with. Should he change it because it offends your political sensibilities? Would it have mattered as much before 2001? If not, why should it matter now? Would you like it if I attacked your name – asked it's nationality or meaning?
    America may or may not be ready for a muslim leader. But Obama is not a muslim. So the point is moot.
    Besides, what does it matter? We're not electing a religious leader, we are electing a political leader. It's that whole 'separation of church and state' thing that the religious right can't seem to wrap their minds around, even though it's been there for 231 years – thankfully.

    December 24, 2007 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  22. Josh, FL

    I was hearing when some folks discuss about the election. One of the folks was sharing his dreams. He was telling that he saw a very tall tree falling while at the same time Hillary and Clinton was kissing to each other. He explains the dream as the tall tree symbolize America, and if the Clintons celebrate by getting into the Whitehouse then it is gonna be the end of the times for America and the worst thing than ever will happen all over the world. He further tells what he understood in his mind that the secret of American greatness is its Unity. And if Hilary wins the election then be sure that a spirit of divisiveness, an evil thing for America—call it bad spirit or witch spirit—will get in to the Whitehouse, eroding the unity of America, the secrete of its greatness.
    America, do you have someone but Hillary? Stop stereotyping and bring the real issues. Keep America United!!!!!!!!!! Otherwise, there is no other tragedy of Planet in peril than America in peril!

    December 24, 2007 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  23. Joan, New York, NY

    Is it a slow "news" day today?

    December 24, 2007 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  24. Grinch in America Seeking the Truth

    Posted By stan pitts pa : December 23, 2007 1:19pm - "In america after 9/11 yes it became a crime, do you even follow the news? obama is a christian, most people born in differnet religions convert to christianity as they grow older and learn the truth, he is no exception, grow up america!"

    What candidate is stan from pitts pa supporting?? This kind of logic in America is downright scary 😦

    December 24, 2007 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  25. Anonymous

    Thank to CNN May God bless their hatred.

    Though, it seem in the fist place that CNN is =Politic

    Not =Hatred But, Now CNN=Hatred instead

    December 24, 2007 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
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