December 23rd, 2007
02:30 PM ET
5 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. Vince, Phoenix AZ

    So many of the people on this post have made the exact decision they were going to make regarding Senator Obama.
    *for those who write his full name Barack Hussein Obama in the pathetic attempt to associate him with the negative connotateion of Saddam Hussein, then also please include the title that only 100 people in this country at any one time: SENATOR Barac Hussein Obama!
    * For those who argue that he contradicted his book because he says he did grow up in a "religious" household: In this day and age, surely you know someone,(or ARE)someone who who does not beat others over the head with THEIR religion, yet know of God. Also, Where is the focus on HIS WHITE MOTHER FROM KANSAS' religious upbringing??? HIS DAD LEFT WHEN HE WAS TWO!
    Long story short, you cannot debate with those who refuse to acknowledge fact, yet make up their own version and CALL them "facts" to suit their narrow world view.

    December 25, 2007 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  2. Ajay Jain

    Obama is getting away with murder and nobody in the press is raising a finger. His State Senator record of hundreds of votes as "PRESENT not VOTING" has not been questioned. He touts his judgment but does not leave a record trail behind to debate his judgment on issues / bills?

    Obama may have the press honeymoon for a while but he can not get the nomination without greater scrutiny. And scrutiny we need. Operations Research on Obama is not a racist action but part of legitimate politics and campaigning.

    For example: "Kerry Apology for MUSLIM remark on Obama":
    Kerry does not have to apologize for STATING FACTS:

    He said ""It's probably not something that appeals to him, but I like the fact that his name is Barack Hussein Obama and his father was a Muslim and this his paternal grandmother is a Muslim,” he said at the time."

    Yes Obama's father is/was a Muslim and his mother an American White female.

    So what! Hillary/Bill do not have to get defensive about their comments, language, remarks on any forum be it Charlie Rose Show or Kerry's event endorsing Hillary. There is no parsing or apology required.

    Obama needs to be brought down from the pedestal.

    Go Hillary44 08! http://hillaryis44.org/

    December 25, 2007 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  3. ajain

    Kerry does not have to apologise for STATING FACTS:

    He said ""It's probably not something that appeals to him, but I like the fact that his name is Barack Hussein Obama and his father was a Muslim and this his paternal grandmother is a Muslim,” he said at the time."

    Yes Obama's father is/was a Muslim and his mother an American White female.

    So what! Hillary/Bill do not have to get defensive about their comments, language, remarks on any forum be it Charlie Rose Show or Kerry's event endorsing Hillary. There is no parsing or apology required.

    Obama needs to be brought down from the pedestal.

    People should not be afraid to attack Obama because of his Muslim / Black heritage.

    We can not be labeled “racist” for relevant attacks in this election cycle.

    Like Obama and Oprah are BARGAINERS and Bill and Hillary Clinton are CHALLENGERS. Thus Obama brought by his white mother and maternal relations is whiter than Clintons in the abstract!

    Obama has not struggled like any Black has or has he experienced segregation like any Black in the US has. Thus Obama does not have a single “Black” bone in his body.

    Through their politics, positions and staff hiring the CLINTONS are “blacker” than Obama with all his ex-Clinton aides!

    Obama may have the press honeymoon for a while but he can not get the nomination without greater scrutiny.

    And scrutiny we need. Operations Research on Obama is not a racist action but part of legitimate politics and campaigning.

    Go Hillary44 08! http://hillaryis44.org/

    December 25, 2007 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  4. Larry F. Nelson, Warsaw, Illinois 62379

    I live in Barack Obama's district and just wondered when I had snail mailed him twice and e-mailed once that he didn't even acknowledge me. I was writing him about a problem that I was having with Socical Security Disabality and yes Mr. Lane Evans (after his retirment Phil Hare) looked into it. It was important enough for these two people but not Barack Obama?

    December 25, 2007 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  5. Chicken Little - Better to be aware than to be blindsided again

    There are still to this day peeps who believe that Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11 and that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction!!

    The ignorance of the masses is astounding, the gullibility of the American public is amazing, and the attention span of many voters is shorter than a nanosecond...

    And everyone wonders why Kerry got torpedoed by the "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" (& BLATANT LIARS = most didn't even serve on a "Swift Boat" and most weren't even in Vietnam when Kerry was!! 😦 After one local District Attorney appeared in one of the Ads, some people started looking into his allegations, and he finally admitted that "one of his buddies had told him the story, and he felt it was his duty to share it w/the rest of America"! Meanwhile T. Boone Pickens, the oil tycoon and the rest of the Good Ole Texas Boys laughed all the way back to the White House.)

    The point is those who discount the UNITED GOP Attack Machine are only deluding themselves. Ask Harold Ford Jr. what sunk his Senate bid in TN? (HE was the bright & rising star who gave the Key Note Address at the 2000 Democratic Convention.) Ask Senator McCain about the hatefilled dishonest whisper smear campaign in SC primary in 2000 (which maliously implied that he had broken as a POW & become mentally unstable, and that his adopted daughter was his child by a black woman!NOT!! Rove the Mastermind behind Bush even devoured one of their own when it appeared McCain might win the GOP nomination instead of Bushbaby.)

    Has anyone seen what the national rags have on their front covers NOW?? Imagine all those folks standing in the check-out lines... soaking in the headlines like unsuspecting sponges –> Here's a couple of train wrecks waiting to happen:

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-0702240237feb24,0,4469899.story "A land sale recorded this month ended the neighborly relationship between U.S. Sen. Barack Obama and indicted political insider Antoin 'Tony' Rezko, Obama's friend and former fundraiser."

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-070323obama-youth,0,4794506.story?coll=chi-homepagepromo440-fea "The glare of the presidential campaign is shining on people previously hidden behind pseudonyms in Obama's memoirs. One of them, a convicted felon, demanded money from the campaign. Or else."

    OLD NEWS = Just Dust It Off, Spice It Up, and Sell It to the brain-dead American Public... Rove & Co. are already probably snickering behind the Demwits backs.

    December 25, 2007 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    A few of the comments above say "Obama rules" . Well the sad fact is that if Obama does "rule" America loses big time. Is that what some of you want. It really isn't about the religion part , it's about the Muslims "holy jihad" and their plans to take over the US from the inside. What does it take to make some of you see what is going on here with Obama? There are plenty of other candidates out there to vote for that would do a hell of lot better job than this muslim "plant" could ever do for our country, Hillary excluded..

    December 25, 2007 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  7. Bob, Sugar Land, TX

    i am confused. this country has religious freedom, right? SO WHY DOES IT MATTER IF OBAMA IS CHRISTIAN, MUSLIM, OR HINDU! and if this topic is worthy to make an article, then i think that this nation has seriously been corrupt-no religious trolerance.

    December 25, 2007 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  8. B.I.Paradise, Waterford,Michigan

    Barak Hussein Obama was registered as a child in the schools as a Muslim in Indonesia and attended weekly 2 hour Islamic religious classes and the mosque with his stepfather on Muslim major holidays! For him to say he was never a Muslim is misleading! The Muslim faith considers him born into Islam by his father and paternal grandfather's faith even though he is now a practising Christian who is subject to the death sentence declaration ( fatwa) put out by radical Muslim clerics on anyone who leaves Islam and converts to a different faith! There is no freedom of religion in any Muslim country!

    December 25, 2007 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  9. Marz, Newtown, CT

    I chuckle at some of the ignorant comments below. If he was Muslim, does that make him a bad person or is that what Mr. Bush has done by dividing the world? Let's vote for Obama because he is clearly the best person running! We haven't had someone like this in my lifetime. Stop the ignorant smearing campaign Hillary. Hillary = Bush. Giuliani = Bush. Our Economy can't survive with Hillary or Giuliani. We have one choice and that's Obama. If you don't vote for Obama, you're either racist or just plain ignorant.

    December 25, 2007 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  10. Tim, Danbury CT

    Is Barack running to be the next president? What does his religion have to do with anything? Seperate church and state? Remember Katrina? How did Bush react to that? Does that mean that people of his religion hate blacks?

    December 25, 2007 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  11. John, Ridgefield, CT

    Hillary is weak. Her husband cheated on her and she did nothing about it. When there's a problem in the U.S, would she just ignore it and hope it goes away. Hillary, blow away.. No pun intended.

    December 25, 2007 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  12. S Mackey

    How did this get morphed into Hillary's fault? Where is her name in this article? You Dems are so stupid – tearing apart your party BEFORE the nomination! You'll lose this one too – hello President Huckabee. You think Hillary would be bad...

    December 25, 2007 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  13. Student, Paris, France

    Isn't having a muslim background an asset? We all know Obama isn't a terrorist so the fact that he's been exposed Islam should only make us more confident that his views are sound and unprejudised, and that he'll be better at negotiating with Muslim leaders.
    I think he should be clinton's VP or she be his VP..that way they'd get the democrats, women and african americans

    December 26, 2007 01:56 am at 1:56 am |
  14. bankole ife oluwa oladeji,sango-otta,ogun ,nigeria

    Obama has made his religious background statement loud and clear what about you?

    December 26, 2007 03:09 am at 3:09 am |
  15. chet whiteside, HUDSON, NY

    Fair play for all, Immigration, Talk to our Enemies, Ethics Morals & Values

    December 26, 2007 03:27 am at 3:27 am |
  16. Derek, Greenfield, MO.

    It has to be annoying to get these gossip questions, when you would expect people to be more concerned with you leadership direction and qualifications for presidency. How sad that our country's fascinated more by rumors then issues.

    December 26, 2007 04:04 am at 4:04 am |
  17. antonio muhammad Atlanta,Ga

    It is sad, that a person has to defend what religion he or she is. In America! The other week, John Edwards was asked if it would be dangerous to even have a Black President. Because he may have an agenda of revenge against white America for what they have done to Blacks in this country. This only shows, that on some level, many white Americans really fear any Black person with real power. And although they say Blacks people are Americans, with all the rights of White Americans; there is a mind that makes sure Blacks are not afforded the same freedoms, and opprotunities as White Americans. That question was based on the fear of a Blackman havin power. And the fear of a lesssing of white peoples power in America. Instead of seeing us as Americans, its always in the mind of many whites, that Blacks will repay them for what they have done to us. That goes to show that you dont know us that well! We dont have that mind. We want to be at peace. We love the Promise of America. We dont hate you. We only want to be treated with justice. Just as you do. Why is that so hard to understand. I am a muslim. I dont hate America! This is the country of my birth. If I see a person trying to blow up a bridge or whatever, he gon wish he never crawled under there to do such a thing! It is interesting that many whites love to play the victim! You dont see your own hand in whats messing up the country you say you love. Please!! lets just put those things aside. Barack Obama. Whatever his religion, seems to have a plan to make America work again. Have you been watching what is going on? Come on people!!!

    December 26, 2007 04:48 am at 4:48 am |
  18. a. muhammad Atlanta,Ga

    So. Being Muslim is Bad uh? to all of you out there who fear muslims. You so ignorant! Americans are some of the most ignorant, and arrogant people in the world. You dont even really know why your country is at war. It is so easy to dupe you. You dont know what your country does to other people in the world in your name. They only tell you what they need to keep you from knowing whats really going on. LAIRS!! But you believe them. I am a Muslim. And very proud of that. I dont hate christians. But I'm pretty sure that most of you hate Muslims from what I read in blogs like this one. So if Barack Obama was a Muslim it would put him as a 2nd class citizen uh? That would make him unfit uh? His name is under attack. You hate Muslims for being Muslim. You have been told garbage like, " they hate us because we are free." "They hate our way of life." And you go for that! You just refuse to believe that its two sides to every story. Or. You dont care. Ignorant!

    December 26, 2007 04:59 am at 4:59 am |
  19. K Eldridge CA

    The Hillary Swift-Boat tactic has been exposed. Truth be told, America has a problem with Muslims. Since 9/11, we don't say it, but we are still freighten beyond rational thought. When you go into a mall, or a public place you get nervous with you see a young lady wearing a hijab (traditional muslim head dress). What are your thoughts.

    How we soon forget the youth that took the lives of 9 (including self) in Omaha, NE. I don't thank he was muslim.

    The title War on Terrorism is merely subtitled in the minds of most Americans, "The War on Islam". God hath not given us the spirit of fear.

    December 26, 2007 05:57 am at 5:57 am |
  20. Ajay Jain

    Obama is getting away with murder and nobody in the press is raising a finger. His State Senator record of hundreds of votes as "PRESENT not VOTING" has not been questioned. He touts his judgment but does not leave a record trail behind to debate his judgment on issues / bills?

    Obama may have the press honeymoon for a while but he can not get the nomination without greater scrutiny. And scrutiny we need. Operations Research on Obama is not a "racist" action but part of legitimate politics and campaigning.

    For example: "Kerry Apology for MUSLIM remark on Obama":

    Kerry does not have to apologize for STATING FACTS:

    He said "It's probably not something that appeals to him, but I like the fact that his name is Barack Hussein Obama and his father was a Muslim and this his paternal grandmother is a Muslim,” he said at the time."

    Yes Obama's father is/was a Muslim and his mother an American White female.

    So what! Hillary/Bill do not have to get defensive about their comments, language, remarks on any forum be it Charlie Rose Show or Kerry's event endorsing Hillary. There is no parsing or apology required.

    Obama needs to be brought down from the pedestal if he has to compete fair and square in this election cycle of 2008.

    Go Hillary44 08! http://hillaryis44.org/

    December 26, 2007 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  21. a. muhammad Atlanta,Ga

    I see other Black Americans on this and other blogs, touting the "fact that they are supposely "African American" , and they dont support Obama. Is that suppose to give people the " his own people dont support him" thought or something? Please!! How many times have Black people ever really supported their own, in terms of their own being Black? There has been an issue in this campain of Black voters not voting for Obama, because Blacks seem to not believe he can when. That says alot about what Blacks in America really think about the "progress" made in the area of race relations. And if white America can really accept leadership coming from a Blackman. Or if we as Blacks can. Do we still have a mentality that only whites can lead? Oh, some of us agure that Obama may not have enough experience. Well. What experience does his rivals have that would make them better suited to be the President? I see the experience being that, they know, know how, and do more political trickery that he. How many voters really think that the president will make decisions without his or her advisors? I recall when George Bush came into office, the many highlighted the wisdom of him pulling in the experienced people he did. Although much of this was planned long before he became President. But he did it. And was praised! Well. Look at all this "experience" has done to our country. Within, and without. SAD!!

    December 26, 2007 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  22. Chad, Big Lake, MN

    I'm happy to see that others understand. Why is it that a country's government that seperates church and state, make such a big deal about the religion of their candidates? Nationalism & Christianity are not the same. Christians hate and support killing more than other religions it seems. I see people, not religions.

    December 27, 2007 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  23. steve, michigan

    I don't believe any politition at his word only their actions. Barak has no accomplishments, other than he was a state Senator for a brief time as well as a U.S. Senator for about the same time. As far as his religion I don't care, I know his dad and grandmother is muslim, his mom has remarried a muslim, and they may have lived in muslim neighborhoods as christians but, I bet they did not preach it not in kenya anyways, Dez says religion don't matter well tell that to Romney or Huckabee. I want to know why a no time and grade senator is the next savior for america. republican or democrate.

    December 30, 2007 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  24. mimsi

    Anyone ever take the time to check out his NEW CHRISTIAN church?
    Only for blacks and allegiance to Africa....check it out:
    http://www.tucc.org/about.htm

    January 2, 2008 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  25. Marcos

    If I am not mistaken Obama's father started out as a Muslim but is now an antheist. Obama went to Muslim schools in his youth and now belongs to a fairly new church that doesn't believe in the bible itself. Is that correct?

    January 3, 2008 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
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