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. Kariuki,florida

    They really really really really want Hillary to be the Democratic Presidential Candidate for two reasons. They’ve been preparing for a McCain vs. Hillary contest for years and feel confident she’s beatable. Two, If she wins, they know they can control her and buy her off (she’s already taken money from Rupert Murdoch). This is why the corporate media absolutely shuts out other Democratic Candidates who have better ideas such as Dennis Kucinch. Reinstate the Fairness Doctrine so the media cannot shut out other candidates!

    December 23, 2007 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  2. vibberkint,boston,ma

    Insight wants Obama to think the Clinton people are slandering him. Sowing dissention among Dems is what this is all about.

    December 23, 2007 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  3. Richard, Chugiak, Alaska

    The people out there spouting "facts" about Obama need to give the source of their information, most of which is untrue or twisted .

    December 23, 2007 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  4. Desiree, Queens, New York

    Not that religion matters but Obama has said more than once that his mother was an Atheist so why is he now saying that she was a christian. Maybe he needs to reread his own book. What he should be telling people is that religion should not matter and people should be proud to be in a country where we have the freedom to choose.

    December 23, 2007 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  5. bill,ct

    Hillary Clinton camp is supposedly pushing this story. She needs to get a life and run a better campaign because
    Supposing your claim is true, what difference does it make? Does that somehow absolve Fox News and other rightwing dirt bags for pushing this racist, xenophobic lie?

    December 23, 2007 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  6. Pheobe,san

    Along with the “slip ups” from CNN, et al. this latest bit seems intended to go after Obama and push him down for Obama. Hope he does Keep up high, and figures out a way to counterattack the Swiftboating.

    December 23, 2007 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  7. paul,mn

    So will Bushes and the Clintons publicly condemn Saudi Arabia, since they place them as not yet indicted co-conspirators? Really, those scary Saudis, financing the scary Muslims. But it’s ok that shrubco holds hands with them all day long.If I may remember were saudis that killed Americans on 9/11 as larger number in the group. Contrary we went to Afhaganstan.
    Do their reasons not to bomb saudi Arabia hold any water? sheesh.

    December 23, 2007 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  8. Phillip,boston,ma

    I am an Independent voting for Obama!

    December 23, 2007 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  9. stan pitts pa

    obama will be the next president of the usa, we need to take america back, hrc cannot be trusted, she will sell out america to the highest bidder, if you think bush was bad, u aint seen nothing yet, it will do us no good to replace corporate republicans with corporate democrats,hrc will give us more republican style leadership, not caring what the people who elected them think, obama is our last chance for real change in this country!

    December 23, 2007 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  10. Pheobe,san

    Along with the “slip ups” from CNN, et al. this latest bit seems intended to go after Obama and push him down for Obama. Hope he does Keep up high, and figures out a way to counterattack the Swiftboating.

    Posted By Pheobe,san : December 23, 2007 5:35 pm

    ooops I meant push him down for Hillary.

    December 23, 2007 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  11. joan,greensboro,nc

    Wolf Blitzer, "news operator” note situation room, the greater platform it has to peddle unfounded smears against the allegations that was not substantiated.
    Hillary need to get a life

    December 23, 2007 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  12. kathy,Omaha,nebraska

    left and nutroots throw a collective fit over CNN reporting on Barak Obama’s Muslim connection. I doubt if anyone ever tried to know the truth. Obama has come clean time and time again on this issue.

    December 23, 2007 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  13. M. Castaign

    Do you really know Barack Hussein Obama? Scary & something we have to take into consideration!

    Information I believe the country is entitled to know so that when the time comes they can truly make an informed decision at the polls and have a few more facts, information to research and opinions on a probable U.S. presidential candidate.

    I do not have any proof of Obama being a Radical Muslim, but I am also not finding anything disclaiming it either and considering how he was raised...makes me wonder and very concerned for our Country. I have never posted and/or been very political, but I am a Wife, Mother, concerned U.S. Citizen and I vote in every election for whom I feel will do the best job to protect our country.

    Obama was born in Hawaii to a black Muslim named Barrack Hussein Obama, Sr from Kenya and his mother was an Atheist born in Kansas named Ann Dunham. His parents met in college and were divorced by the time Obama turned two. However, his father moved back to Kenya and his mother remarried a Radical Muslim from Indonesia by the name of Lolo Soetoro.

    Obama relocated to Indonesia when he was 6 years old and attended a Muslim School in Jakarta, he also attended Catholic School for two years. Lolo Soetoro, Obama's stepfather introduced him to Islam. Obama was enrolled in a Wahabi school in Indonesia. Wahabism is known for the RADICAL MUSLIM teachings that is followed by the terrorists who are now waging Jihad against the Western world.

    Obama does not seem to like the public knowing this about him and has said, "He was once a Muslim, but that he also attended Catholic school. Notice that he did say, that he converted to Catholicism. Not that he needed to, but why make a comment like that.

    Obama's political advisor's are trying to make it appear that is Mulim ties were only from his father, which he had very little influence. Remember to keep in mind the Stepfather & his school environment in Jakarta. Also, since politically Christians are usually more accepted in public office; Obama joined the United Church of Christ in what I feel is a way to downplay his Muslim upbringing due to the fact that when Obama was sworn into office, he USED the Koran (which has very different beliefs from the Bible) and he DID NOT use the Holy Bible.

    I just want people to be aware, get all the facts and to follow their gut instinct with Obama and/or any other Political Candidate and ALWAYS KEEP IN MIND...That the Muslims have always warned us Americans, that they plan to destroy the United States from the inside out!!

    Would it not be victory in the highest if we were taken down by the U.S. President himself!

    December 23, 2007 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  14. Ben,England

    The art in question was by Andres Serrano (not Maplethorpe), and it indeed depicted a society in which the most pious are "pissing" on the message and the meaning of Jesus Christ (Bush, Robertson, Falwell, the list is long of those who claim to "speak" for Christ, yet live their lives full of arrogance, greed, dishonesty, and even bloodlust.)

    The art and thus the MESSAGE is a compelling one to contemplate, as we now celebrate CONSUMERISM ("Go out and SHOP FOR XMAS!") while our soldiers(children)are dying for the greed of a lying "born again" leader. As in all good art, this particular piece was loathed by the same folks who would reject the image within a mirror

    December 23, 2007 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  15. joe,st.paul,mn

    I Understand where Obama is coming from.

    And it should also apply to the likes of O'Reilly, Limbaugh, Coulter, Savage, Hannity, Beck and everyone else. They speak for only themselves. It's not like there has been an orchestrated effort underway to vilify every Democrat (except for Leiberman), most patriots who've voiced opposition to the War in Iraq and anyone who disagrees with the powers that be.

    I'd agree with you 100 % Tommy, in a perfect world. But todays world reality is redefined everyday on talk radio and on CNN and even fox news. Patriotism is defined today by people who've been hiding behind it and the flag for almost 6 years now. There is a chorus of right wing nonsense coming from every direction. There is a huge problem. Where do we go from here?

    I believe Obama is tough enough for those political machine. None of them is pure they carry alot of baggage!

    December 23, 2007 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  16. joseph,charlestown,boston


    Some of the right wing media people have said that since no one is contesting what they say, it must be true. Limbaugh, Coulter and many others have said this. No more lying down for right wing lies.

    Go Obama!

    December 23, 2007 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  17. Uma, mpls, MN

    Nothing wrong of Being Muslim; but after seing all over world with Muslim law which basically trash woman's right; as a American woman i am not voting for presidential with Muslim background, period.
    No to the dark society. No to Barack Hussein Obama who is being very disguise.

    December 23, 2007 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  18. Ginger, Sugar Valley, GA

    When will the mainstream media stop making an issue of this? The only candidates being houndded about hteir religion are Obama and the Republican candidate who is Mormon. BIG DEAL. Since when is a Christian's denomination a major topic of discussion in politics? We don't make an issue out of Baptist or Presbyterian or Disciples of Christ or Church of God, etc. Stories like this detract from the REAL issues like health care and education and providing a better future for our children.

    December 23, 2007 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  19. AJ; Montpelier

    I'm sure that the few years Obama spent in Indonesia as a child, gave him brilliant insight into the Muslim mentality. Please, this guy is so arrogant. Another Bush-like know it all!

    December 23, 2007 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  20. Eric,burlington,vt

    Let them bring it on! All what they are doing is making Obama stronger everyday and keeping him above the water since the media won't cover him anyway. Tell them Obama, tell them!

    December 23, 2007 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  21. paul,fairfax,va

    Glad to see I'm not the only one who is outraged with this kind of things, . For some reason I'm gonna try to be more diplomatic about it, though.
    I don't think Obama is a muslim and if he is America is a country for all people from all over the world. May be it is time to minimize christian domination. just my 2cents thought.

    December 23, 2007 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  22. Eli Boulton, Auckland, New Zealand

    Phemi: The reason he's still called Hussein Obama. First of all, Hussein is an ARABIC name. Not an ISLAMIC name. There are Arab Christians you know. Something that might not know since I'm guessing you're not exactly an expert on foreign affairs. And Obama is an EAST AFRICAN name with HEBREW roots. If you're gonna smear someone then please use actual facts. Thanks.

    December 23, 2007 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  23. Micahel Guinn, Ventura, CA

    I am HOPEful that this "unteenth explanation" does the trick- The fact is that Barack Obama can and will beat the gop nominee- HRC is divisive and the old "Clinton-Haters from the Right" (Yes, Hillary there ARE such people unfortinately!)are licking their chops.
    HOPE nad GOOD JUDGMENT will beat the old-school-Washington-politics everytime!
    OBAMA 08!

    December 23, 2007 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  24. Independent conservative

    This is America; we don't impugn the sins of the Father against the son. Ron Reagan's father was a serious boozer. JFK's father was an avowed anti-semite; JFK was nothing of the sort.

    I probably wouldn't vote for Obama as he's a bit of a lightweight, but last I checked this is America, not Europe(where your Father's station in life is vital).

    Who gives a flying camel what the Islamists think about Obama. Obama visited northern israel during the recent Lebanon war, proudly extolling Israel's right to self defence. I would personally trust Barack on Israel as opposed to the Clinton's.

    Hillary with her baggage that has never been addressed will bring this country down like noones business.I just don't trust her.

    December 23, 2007 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  25. jona

    Independent conservative, I totally agree with you.

    Vote against him because of his recordor a light weight; not because his Father's ethnicity was Islamic roots. Of course, I agree 'they' will see it that way, but who gives a flying turd, maybe they'll get angina then next time Barack visits israel, or choke on camel dung.

    As a Jew, I would never vote for or against a canidate just on their religion; I'd vote for a Hirsi Ali in a second for President if I got the chance. But don't blame the son for the record of the father. It is immaterial.

    December 23, 2007 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
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