January 23rd, 2008
10:15 AM ET
6 years ago

Obama battles Muslim rumor head-on

 Obama is stepping up his efforts to beat back a false e-mail rumor.
Obama is stepping up his efforts to beat back a false e-mail rumor.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Democrat Barack Obama stepped up his efforts Tuesday to battle back against e-mails that falsely label him a Muslim, telling an interviewer the ongoing rumors were part of a "systematic political strategy."

"I think it's very important for people not to buy into the kinds of dirty tricks that we've become so accustomed to in our politics, and people need to understand I'm not and never have been of the Muslim faith," he told CBN's David Brody.

Related video: Obama confronts Muslim rumors

In e-mail messages that have been circulating as long as Obama has been a presidential candidate, the Illinois senator is said be a Muslim who refuses to recite the pledge of allegiance, and one who "joined the United Church of Christ in an attempt to downplay his Muslim background." In fact, Obama has never been a Muslim.

"I think that those who are of the Muslim faith are deserving of respect and dignity, but to try and feed into this fear-mongering and try to question my faith commitments and my belief in Jesus Christ, I think is offensive," Obama also said. "And I want to make sure that people are absolutely clear about what's going on with this, and if they get another one of these e-mails that they're deleting it and letting their friends know that it's nonsense."

Obama did not hypothesize who was behind the e-mails, but noted, "somehow they appear magically wherever the next primary or caucus is."

His comments are the latest in a heightened effort to beat back the Internet rumors ahead of South Carolina's Democratic primary Saturday.

In recent days, his campaign has launched a TV ad that quotes his now-famous 2004 speech in which he said, "We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes.” And in a new mailer to South Carolina Democrats – the latest in a months-long series of religious-themed messages in the state - Obama is called a "Committed Christian," who "felt a beckoning of the spirit and accepted Jesus Christ into his life." The mailer pictures the senator standing behind a pulpit, with an organ and a cross in the background.

soundoff (427 Responses)
  1. jlee

    To all those people claiming it was the Clinton campaign – there's a good chance it's not.

    All the republican powers that be (in the party are throwing their weight behind McCain. This is because McCain, according to polling, has the best chance of beating both Hilary and Obama. Right now, he matches favorably (up 2-12% againt hilary and about even (from about 5% up to 5% down) vs. Obama. It's just as possible that the GOP is behind these attacks, to get the "weaker" Dem candidate to face [what will be McCain].

    Just a thought.

    January 23, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  2. Janina

    Have those who are offering up one negative snipe after the other ever thought that no matter who is running for office they'd be dissatisfied. Some people are unhappy about any number of things and scapegoat other people to release the wrath that they have against themselves and their own lives. I suggest everyone open their mind that none of these candidates - Dem or Repub - are going to meet your every need, taste, or desire. These people have strengths and weaknesses just like every human being, you and me alike. The candidates are not running a friendship contest, competing to be our friend, sup at our table or marry into the family. Back off and shut up and LISTEN an LEARN about their character, their work philosphy, their voting record, their life history and family history and their position on the issues that face this country - the economy, health care coverage, education, immigration, the war, the justice system, govt mismanagement, etc. Show them respect for at least stepping forward to be considered for the presidency and give them credit for their achievements whatever they may be. So far the electorate sounds like a lot of bickering children complaining about every thing under the sun as far as the candidates are concerned. Use a level head, study/read and get educated about the candidates rather than go on a rant about what you don't like about them or worse spread lies or deliberately make misleading statements. Let's show some dignity in this process. If we want a dignified, well-educated, capable leader to represent us, then we should expect no less from ourselves.

    January 23, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  3. Greg in OH

    Jon Schenkemann New York, NY,

    Don't start that garbage, there is no proof he ever was Muslim

    January 23, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  4. Richard, Uganda

    I think there is no difference between some Americans and tribalists we have here in Africa. In Africa they use tribe and religion to influence people's voting patterns. I thought Americans were above this. Obama's mother is a white isn't that good enough?

    January 23, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  5. Robin Heart of Texas

    Apparently I am having problems being politically correct enough for CNN to post MY OPINION on the Obama muslim/Christian BS that is circulating.
    Please keep in mind this is MY OPINION and not intended by any means to be a statement of fact!
    With that being stated, let me try once more
    IN MY OPINION :
    I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest that every time something negative comes up about Obama it will be Clinton's fault. I'm not quite sure if people realize Hillary is the one running for office and not Bill anyway.
    I didn't see anywhere in the article of him taking the issue of not saying the pledge or saluting the flag "head on"
    I do my own research because I for one find the media biased. Very sad and shame on you CNN!! I THINK CNN wants Obama in the White House and only report positively about him. If the Clintons sneeze it some how becomes a racial issue. I really don't understand Americans anymore.
    What happened to making up your own minds about a leader and not being cattle led to slaughter? Don't back a candidate based on color or gender.. vote for the one that you believe will do the job the best!

    Chicago’s Trinity United Church Of Christ is the Church Obama belongs to. Look it up… and make sure you click on the about us link on the left side. It is very informative on the beliefs and practices of their Christian religion. Let the facts speak for themselves.

    January 23, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  6. Sandra Pesino

    I am female, white and an independant. This the first time I regret not being able to vote in a primary. Barak Obama is my man and my husband's too. He stands for everything we believe in. CHANGE!!!

    Can't help but wonder if Hillary and Bill aren't a tag team. He makes the comments and she can deny she made them, but the words have been spoken.

    She and her husband are deceptive people.

    Here is hoping we will get an honest, educated man for President.

    January 23, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  7. Angela M.

    No one knows if the emails about his faith and the photos of Obama not saluting the flag came from the Clinton camp. And if you accuse them without proof, then you are guilty of the same mudslinging you are critizing. How can you say that a President's faith is not important? A person's faith guides their life and all the decisions they make, a Muslim and a Christian will always use different principles to guide their choices.

    January 23, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  8. Roger

    Anybody who would vote against Senator Obama based solely on his religion doesn't deserve the right to vote. Period.

    January 23, 2008 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  9. jesse sturkens

    I had begined to balieved . that we had got over dirty politics' but after watching the Dem. debates i saw and herd the same old game.i wish they would sotp cutting each other down,and tell more about how they are going to lead this country now that would be a real change. by the way iam a dem.

    January 23, 2008 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  10. David

    I find it unAmerican to strictly vote for a party rather than a person. Forget the Republican and Democratic parties and vote who you believe in. Not to mention, as a Democrat, why should I support a Democrat nominee that I do not believe in. . . . . cough, Hillary Clinton, cough. If Obama doesnt get the nod, we should draft him as a 3rd party candidate. He attracts Democrats, Republicans, and Independants. My loyalties are to my principals and my country. Nothing can be accompliched with a 51% majority. .. . . . . look at Congress.

    If Obama is not the Dem nominee, he should run as himself.

    January 23, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  11. dee

    Obama is in the center of the clinton Storm

    He poised with his supporter

    The polls around the country are dropping on hillary.

    Rant Rant as you may

    Only Truth can come out the victor today

    Change by the people

    Obama 08

    January 23, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  12. aware

    The emails are ridiculous! I have been asked about them and have redirected to scopes.com search "Who is Barack Obama." There is an excellent True/False article refuting these emails at this site.

    However, I will vote Hillary 08!

    January 23, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  13. Deej

    It's easy to see from a number of the comments above that there is no shortage of people willing to believe absurd and baseless rumors - not simply those circulating about Obama's faith. I mean, for example, those claiming here that Hillary Clinton is the source of the rumors about Obama, or that freedom of religion will fall under a second Clinton administration.

    Good grief, people. Where is your proof? Where is the basis for such irrational notions? It's as foolish to believe any of that as it is to believe that Obama is a Muslim.

    I despair about the future of America knowing that so many voters fail to properly inform themselves about the facts and instead so readily believe and repeat the most transparently false urban legends.

    January 23, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  14. Deanne,KS

    Did it ever occur to you that neither the Clintons or the Republicans are "behind this" but that there are individual Americans that have researched this and found things questionable. The website for his church is disturbing to say the least, "allegiance to Africa"?? I thought he was trying to run the United States of America. Obama doesn't like what gets said and its all about race. Well, race is an issue here, like it or not. That last debate had all 3 of them stumbling over themselves courting black voters, they weren't worried about white voters. Listen to his wife give speeches. I am of Dutch-Irish ancestry but I am JUST AN AMERICAN. Why do people insist on being labeled black American or mexican American or the green toed American for that matter. If they truly are looking for equality they should be satisfied being AMERICAN. I sure didn't see this much sympathy /apathy for Mr. Romney concerning his being a Mormon.
    I loath the Clintons, but I would vote for Hillary in a heartbeat over Obama, he scares me.

    January 23, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  15. Robyn

    So ridiculous....it is obvious this garbage is coming out of the Clinton campaign.

    Obama is upfront and straight forward. He has said many times that he is Christian. I cannot believe people believe these rumors.

    Obama has brought so much positivity and a new generation of voters to the DNC that if he is not the nominee, the DNC WILL lose a large number of supporters.

    They have two fundamentally different views in their governing styles. Obama is for OPEN and TRANSPARENT government, not taking money from special interest groups. HRC is for special interest groups. This is THE MOST important issues because it ends up affecting HOW the people's interests are being represented in D.C.

    I was a long supporter of the Clintons and believe Hillary could do the job. But, what our country needs right now is a unifier, who can build relationships across party lines, without the baggage of the past, special interests groups, etc... Furthermore, I am shocked at the campaign of the Clintons. They are turning off voters.

    HRC did NOT have top level security clearance as first lady in the white house. She could not sit in on national security meetings, nor did she get a daily intelligence report. She cannot claim that experience. Obama has THE best opportunity to beat a republican. The GOP is just waiting to pounce on HRC if she won the nomination.

    We need new ideas, new faces, a fresh breath back into the DNC.

    Let move forward and not take us back to an old era.

    OBAMA '08!

    Robyn
    Ft. Lauderdale,FL

    January 23, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  16. Robin Heart of Texas

    Apparently I am having problems being politically correct enough for CNN to post MY OPINION on the Obama muslim/Christian BS that is circulating.
    Please keep in mind this is MY OPINION and not intended by any means to be a statement of fact!
    With that being stated, let me try once more
    IN MY OPINION :
    I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest that every time something negative comes up about Obama it will be Clinton's fault. I'm not quite sure if people realize Hillary is the one running for office and not Bill anyway.
    I didn't see anywhere in the article of him taking the issue of not saying the pledge or saluting the flag "head on"
    I do my own research because I for one find the media biased. Very sad and shame on you CNN!! I THINK CNN wants Obama in the White House and only report positively about him. If the Clintons sneeze it some how becomes a racial issue. I really don't understand Americans anymore.
    What happened to making up your own minds about a leader and not being cattle led to slaughter? Don't back a candidate based on color or gender.. vote for the one that you believe will do the job the best!

    Trinity United Church Of Christ . Look it up… and make sure you click on the about us link on the left side. It is very informative on the beliefs and practices of their Christian religion. Let the facts speak for themselves.

    January 23, 2008 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  17. Kevin, Ca

    To all who are so emotionally involved, instead of being calm, smart, and thoughtful.

    By now, you all know or are programmed by the media to know that Obama and Clinton are rivals. So immediately who do you think behind all this when Obama complained that he's wrongfully labeled as a Muslim.

    Of course, most of you'd think Clinton's supporters do these behind-the scene work, right!? Then you'd be so angry, right? then you'd be turned off if you were previous Clinton's supporter, right? or you'd turn to Obama if you're undecided, right?

    That's what Obama's campaign want you to think and react.... they pretend not knowing the answer of 2 plus 2, but rather give you the gratification by finding it all by yourselves.

    Of course, they surely know that we're all raised and taught that discrimination is bad...whether it's a discrimination on race or religion...that we can't accept even just a smell of it. Very smart tactic, indeed!

    I decide to stay out of this because I know these tactics have been used all along not just by Obama, but from any.

    January 23, 2008 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  18. Dayna

    To: Nancy,

    Who are you getting your information from?? Who said Obama wouldnt pledge the flag- or goes to a church that doesnt allow whites?? This is the exact reason why the media and tabloids are so dangerous- because there are people out there gullible enough to believe just about anything they read or hear !!

    In regards to the flag issue- maybe you are thinking of the lapel flag that all members of US Government and candidates are wearing. He stated that he did not feel that by wearing the flag on his lapel or not did it represent his patriotist- and I dont blame him- people only started doing it after 9/11- I was a NY resident in 9/11, my brother almost died in tower 2- and I dont need to where a flag on my clothes or my car to keep memory of those who didnt survive 9/11, or to honor this country or our soldiers- I honor them by standing up for them- I honor them by electing a president who will bring honor back to our country. Flags and bumper stickers are nice and all but I want a president that does more than than appear to be patriotic- Actions speak far louder than words, pins, stickers etc... as for the church- even if the man's church is has mostly african american patrons- I am sure if a person of a different race wanted to worship with them- they wouldnt be denied access to God's word- just think of the obsurdness of what you are buying into.

    I really do hope and pray that people really take the time to learn about the candidates. I am not telling you to vote for Obama- its a personal preference- but don't not vote for him or anyone else based on rediculous accusations that once spoken out loud sound even more obsurd. Now is the time that mudslinging will be at its best- please keep an open mind and think logically- and do your research yourself. There is always three sides to every news report- The reporters version, the candidates version and the TRUTH. Research for the truth- dont believe all the hype!!
    Look at our country- and our sad excuse for a President- that is what happens when you vote blindly!!

    January 23, 2008 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  19. Katie T.

    EVERY Democrat or Independent voting in Saturday's primary better wake up and get it together NOW! Take a good hard look at the 3 major front-runners in this primary and cast your vote not only for who will make the best nominee for the party, but the best person who will be able to defeat the Republicans, and lead this country both internally and externally. The next President will set the tone for the direction this country will move in and will face some very very serious decisions. See beyond all the polls, the press, the pundits and educate yourself. Don't vote for someone because Oprah says so, don't vote for someone you feel bound be gender/race/religion, vote for the person that has the most leadership, integrity, and intelligence to get the job done in the best interest of the American people!

    January 23, 2008 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  20. educated voters everytown, USA

    nirosha January 22, 2008 6:50 pm ET

    What is Barak Obama's middle name? and when h was sworn into office what did he use? the Bible or the Kuran?

    RE: When he was sworn in he used his families personal bible, from his house. He made mention of this in the last Democratic debate in South Carolina. And for FYI information on all canidates spreads beyond these blogs. All you have to do is google the information. Everything is not so much a conspricy as these blogs and post make them to be. If you did a little research into the question you would be surprised how easy it is to obtain it. And his middle name, again google it.

    January 23, 2008 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  21. jake

    this is getting really nasty. HOwever it was getting very nasty for HIllary too not too long and she stuck it out. Obama is little too thin skin for this kind of stuff. This is just a start how is he going to handle rest of the pressure if he can't handle this.

    January 23, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  22. Democrat in NY

    Take on the Corrupt Clinton Machinery Obama. The whites, Blacks, Latinos, Asians et all are proud of you. You are the voice of the people of USA!

    January 23, 2008 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  23. tc

    How many times is CNN going to rewrite the issue? It's been on here every day forever. Could we please move on now? It's a dead issue with voters with a speck of brain material left in their heads!! Don't dumb us down CNN or you will force me to watch FOX.
    God help us all

    January 23, 2008 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  24. Michael

    Obama supporters better get a grip. The Clinton campaign is not the one spreading these "Muslim" rumors. That would be the kiss of death if Hillary wins the Democratic nomination. The people spreading these rumors are.......THE REPUBLICANS! Seem surprised? Well, don't be. And there will be much more of this coming Obama's way in the very near future. I believe this Republican Neo-con group originates from Florida.
    Back off of the in-fighting and get focused on the real enemy. Hillary Clinton already has. This is a prime example of why Obama is not ready to be President. He can't even provide the proper guidance necessary to re-direct his constituents in the right direction, to focus their anger against the Republicans spreading this Muslim thing around. If Obama wins, I will vote for him but he still is not ready for the Presidency. Hillary is, whether you like it or not.

    Medicine does not have to taste good, in order for it to be good for you!

    January 23, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  25. Jeb

    If you don't like the flack Obama is getting now, just wait until the Republicans get a hold of him.
    How will he hold up then?

    January 23, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
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