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. Ex-Obama Supporter

    Commentators often point to Obama and Clinton's identical votes against US supreme court justices John Roberts and Samuel Alito as an example of their alignment. But the two have split on other nominees chosen by George Bush, whose habit of appointing industry allies and personal friends has been bitterly criticised by Democrats.

    Obama voted alongside 83 colleagues to pave the way for confirmation of Bush interior secretary Dirk Kempthorne. Clinton supported a failed attempt to defeat Kempthorne, who earned a 1% lifetime score on environmental policy from the League of Conservation Voters.

    Clinton also opposed the appointment of George Casey, who spent three difficult years as chief US commander in Iraq, as army chief of staff. The former first lady revealed her decision after publicly challenging Casey to explain a Pentagon audit that found US troops lacking in equipment needed for combat and training of Iraqi recruits.

    "I believe that our soldiers deserve the very best we can offer for their protection; therefore I voted to oppose general Casey's nomination," Clinton said before the vote one year ago. A website maintained by her campaign still calls Casey "one of the chief architects of the war".

    John McCain, who some Democrats anticipate will be the Republican nominee, joined Clinton and a dozen others in voting no. Obama, by contrast, signed off on Casey's bid.

    --
    What does this tell you about Obama? Is he Bush-lite more?

    Obama's voting record shows he is more Bush-lite. Sighs, I fell for his lies.

    January 23, 2008 03:01 am at 3:01 am |
  2. joe

    Your voice I mean Obama's voice (not yours) can definitely change tomorrow...no doubt! we must stop the Karl Rove slice and burn kind of politics otherwise we would be loosing great people who can lead this country.

    January 23, 2008 03:21 am at 3:21 am |
  3. Anonymous

    "Even if Obama were a Muslim, so what?"

    "i relly dont think that religion counts in this democratic debate.
    if he is muslim let hm be."

    I seriously have to agree with these two. I never comment on these blog posts, but..

    Who cares about his past? Let him say whatever he wants; it's not right to poke into ANYONE's personal business, not just a presidential candidate. And I thought the election was about choosing the person who you think is REALLY determined to solve problems and bring people together again. Not about finding out who or what they were in the past. The past in the past. You can't alter or change it; it already happened. I don't understand why anyone would try to nitpick the truth out of a course of events that've already occured. Even if Barack Obama was Muslim before, what're you going to do about it? Focus on the now, not the before.

    And Only God Knows.

    I'm going for Obama. Frankly, I've seen Clinton play a few tricks here and there throughout the campaign so far, and I'm not so comfortable with it.

    January 23, 2008 03:24 am at 3:24 am |
  4. EH

    NOW–FOR –MY TRUE COMMENTS ON THIS ISSUE, RELATED TO THE MUDSLINGING OF SEN. CLINTON AND HER HUSBAND. MRS. CLINTON NEEDS TO CONTROL HER HUSBAND'S MUDSLINGING MOUTH. REMEMBER, FORMER PRESIDENT CLINTON, THOUGH I LIKED HIM AS PRESIDENT, IS NO STRANGER TO BEING UNTRUTHFUL. HE WAS UNTRUTHFUL AS PRESIDENT, AND I THINK HE'S BEING UNTRUTHFUL NOW, WHEN HE'S ATTACKING SEN. OBAMA ON HIS WIFES BEHALF–BASICALLY SLINGING MUD AT THE SENATOR.
    ANYONE FOOLISH ENOUGH NOT TO SEE WHAT HE AND SHE ARE DOING ARE JUST DEAF, DUM, AND BLIND. PEOPLE, FROM MY EXPERIENCE, WOULD RATHER BELIEVE WHAT IS NOT TRUE ABOUT SOMEONE-THAN WHAT IS TRUE...THAT'S THE NATURE OF AMERICANS. YOU, DON'T BELIEVE ME ? WELL THEN, LETS LOOK AT BILL. WHEN WE KNEW THE TRUTH ABOUT BILL HAVING SEXUAL RELATIONS "WITH THAT WOMEN",AS HE STATED HE DIDN'T, ON NATIONAL TV, WE, AS AMERICANS, STILL WANTED TO BELIEVE THAT HE DIDN'T HAVE SEXUAL RELATIONS WITH THAT WOMAN. WE WANTEED TO BELIEVE HE DIDN'T, EVEN AFTER WE KNEW HE HAD. SO, COME ON...GIVE ME A BREAK. SEN. OBAMA SHOULDN'T DIGNIFY THESE QUESTIONS WITH AN ANSWER, BECAUSE THEY HAVE NO BEARING ON THE ISSUES, AMERICANS HAVE CONCERNING THIS COUNTRY FUTURE.

    January 23, 2008 03:25 am at 3:25 am |
  5. Anonymous

    "Even if Obama were a Muslim, so what?"

    "i relly dont think that religion counts in this democratic debate.
    if he is muslim let hm be."

    I seriously have to agree with these two. I never comment on these blog posts, but..

    Who cares about his past? Let him say whatever he wants; it's not right to poke into ANYONE's personal business, not just a presidential candidate. And I thought the election was about choosing the person who you think is REALLY determined to solve problems and bring people together again. Not about finding out who or what they were in the past. The past in the past. You can't alter or change it; it already happened. I don't understand why anyone would try to nitpick the truth out of a course of events that've already occured. Even if Barack Obama was Muslim before, what're you going to do about it? Focus on the now, not the before.

    And Only God Knows.

    I'm going for Obama. Frankly, I've seen Clinton play a few tricks here and there throughout the campaign so far, and I'm not so comfortable with it.

    January 23, 2008 03:26 am at 3:26 am |
  6. Petra - Alexandria, Verginia

    As an ex-Muslim current atheist I know that, according to Islam, if you are born to a Muslim father you are by default a Muslim, but this is of course only acknowledged by Muslims, those who don't believe in Islam wouldn't consider such a definition.

    Obama was born to a Muslim dad, had a Muslim step-dad, and went to schools in Indonesia were only Muslims were admitted, all of those facts can't be denied.
    But he personally never believed in this faith hence he doesn't consider himself a real Muslim, and that is definitely his prerogative.

    The thing i don't understand is that Obama is distancing himself from one religion; Islam (for personal and undeniably political reasons) and yet fiercely linking himself to another religion, Christianity. I think Christianity is not any better than Islam; both are awful religions full of hatred, lies, and blood and I think both religions shouldn’t be practiced any more. I am all for an atheist president.

    Although a big opponent of all religions, I think his fierce denial that he was ever a Muslim will offend Muslims, and I think we’ll hear more from them now!

    January 23, 2008 03:26 am at 3:26 am |
  7. jack

    I know why John Edwards was backing Hillary Clinton. Because John Kerry didn't endorse him and he was the running mate!

    January 23, 2008 04:01 am at 4:01 am |
  8. RJH

    OK...pay attention... RELIGION AND POLITICS DO NOT MIX !

    If everyone would just sit back and see that most ALL the world problems these days (as well as most wars fought in the past) are/were CAUSED by religion in some manner or form. It's not just the Muslims....it's ALL religion across the board. Muslims are busy killing non-believers, Catholics are busy with their sex lives with little boys and girls, Jehovah's Witnesses think they're the only ones to be saved when the world comes to and end, etc., and the list goes on.

    Of course, this is my opinion and belief but let's face it, folks.....religion will be the downfall of humanity someday and most likely, sooner than we think. When you see the mushroom cloud rising over the horizon, you can probably bet it was some nutcase religious lunatic claiming that 'his god' directed him to do it.

    So if you think there really is a hell, and you think I will burn there because of my 'opinions and beliefs', I am sure I will see most everyone I know there and will also save you a seat.

    January 23, 2008 04:14 am at 4:14 am |
  9. whoami

    And you Americans claim religion and politics should not mix? Ha! We see your true colours (or rather you don't like all colours) .

    Dudes, start practising before you preach, Bubba Bush

    January 23, 2008 04:16 am at 4:16 am |
  10. cernole

    The really brave thing would be to say the truth:

    "I don't believe in Jesus, Mohamed, Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. I don't know if there is a God and if there is one I think he's nothing like the scriptures say".

    But that's a few years off still..

    January 23, 2008 04:25 am at 4:25 am |
  11. Chuks

    let's stick to the issues. Anyone who goes this length to deny his allegiance to a religion should be taken by his words. If I were
    christian, and deny being christian, I believe that it means that I have abandoned the faith, right? So, if Obama says "I am not a muslim", then it means that even if he were muslim, his statement means that he has abandoned the faith. So, let's drop this and face the real issues. whether he is muslim or christian, let's hear his stance on the issues, period. BTW, Obama is not a muslim...just to set the records clear.

    -Chuks, Dallas TX.

    January 23, 2008 04:33 am at 4:33 am |
  12. carolynt

    YOU GUYS-IT'S THE CLINTONS BEHIND THE SMEARS-THEY REALLY WANT TO WIN BECAUSE BILL WANTS TO GAIN BACK OUR RESPECT AND HILLARY WANTS TO HAVE BILL BACK-OF COURSE, IT WILL NOT WORK-SOME TIMES THINGS ARE BETTER LEFT AS THEY ARE-I HAVE LOST EVEN MORE RESPECT FOR BOTH OF THEM AFTER THAT LAST DEBATE-AND HIL-DO NOT COMPARE ANYONE'S HUBBIE TO YOURS-NONE OF THE OTHER SPOUSES THAT ARE HELPING THEIR MATES ON EITHER SIDE WERE EX PRESIDENT! BILL,YOU HAD YOUR MOMENT-IT'S OVER, YOU MADE IT VERY HARD FOR AL AND KERRY-YOU DON'T SEEM TO EVEN BE AWARE OF THAT-THERE HAS ALWAYS BEEN A SELF CENTERED ATTITUDE AND A SENSE OF ENTITLEMENT WITH THE CLINTONS=MOVE ON AND LET THE NEXT GENERATION HAVE A PLACE IN HISTORY!

    January 23, 2008 04:37 am at 4:37 am |
  13. zhuguangping

    I vote for H.Clinton. She will bring our country to the time of bill. Clinton.

    January 23, 2008 06:13 am at 6:13 am |
  14. Erik Viker

    Article VI of the United States Constitution (you know that old chestnut, the operator's manual) states "no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."

    Enough with the religion thing already. Ignore the small-minded cultural bigots who sent those silly e-mails around. Anybody who is gullible enough to believes Senator Obama is some kind of malicious "stealth Muslim" should stay out of adult conversations about who might become our next President.

    January 23, 2008 06:47 am at 6:47 am |
  15. jess

    Let prove to the world that Americans are not racist crazy ppl that been portrayed by others. let us practice what we preach. let make history. if we do , then and only then we will be the greatest generation. Let us all be one regardless of color and believes. The beauty of America is in her diversity, and for others to say otherwise....
    its injustce to American. we are good ppl we're democrats republicans. we are black , white ,and blue. we are everything that others not. We are Americans.

    January 23, 2008 07:04 am at 7:04 am |
  16. charlotte

    Another stir it up story. I , very seriously doubt, the Clinton campaign had anything to do with this. Since I made the mistake of sending comments to these sites, I've been getting e-mails from all kinds of spammers. Yamaka said it all quite well. You knew the Obama supporters would jump on this as dirty trick by the Clinton campaign. The Christians would jump,the fearful would jump, and you keep the pot stirring

    January 23, 2008 07:53 am at 7:53 am |
  17. Zac

    I think it's ridiculous that this has even become an issue. As most of you have said, this country was founded on the ideals of freedom. This war of words between Clinton and Obama is petty, I think. America doesn't need this bickering, they need strength and purpose. I support Obama, and I think that the wisest action for him would be to just turn the other cheek. Maybe then it would show that America needs a president who actually believes that "sticks and stones my break my bones, but words will never hurt me."

    It's pretty clear that this is an election of change.

    Of course, any change is better than the imbecile who calls himself our President,
    but for me, Obama is the right change.

    January 23, 2008 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
  18. Janet

    Speaking of the Constitution, why isn't anyone talking about Barack Obama's 10 years experience teaching Constitutional Law at the University of Chicago? If there was debate question about the what the Constitution means to America Obama would win hands down. Please read his book "The Audacity of Hope" and understand for yourself what drives Obama and why he thinks the only way to get this country back on track is to work together. He has witnessed first-hand the dysfunction of our Congress. He wants to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. Can we say that about all the candidates?

    January 23, 2008 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  19. freetobeme, Rochester, PA

    We much too much of a big deal about a candidate's religion. This has become an issue ever since the Religious Right hijacked the Republican party. If I had to judge Christians on the actions of the "born-again" Christian in the White House, however, I would conclude that Christianity breeds nothing but hatred, intolerance, and war.

    I would vote for an atheist if he valued the Constitution and treasured individual liberty. Unfortunately, we haven't had a President who has done that in many a year. That is why I am an American who holds little hope for this country.

    January 23, 2008 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  20. Adam

    For the record there has only been one member of congress who has taken their oath of office on the Koran, it was Keith Ellison of Minnesota. He swore his oath on the Koran that was owned by Thomas Jefferson. But do not take my word for it look it up, its easy enough to do. As for those who comment that one should only take an oath of office or in court on the bible, that makes no sense since if one is not a Christian than they have no reason to keep their oath if they are swearing it on a document that holds little value to their faith. As for an oath of federal office there is nothing in the Constitution that says how one must swear the oath, a president could place his hand on the Sunday comics page if they want, it's clear from the actions of the current and previous 3 presidents that they don't take an oath on the bible seriously anyway. So why get so excited about something that clearly has no meaning in the first place?

    January 23, 2008 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  21. Kayode

    Swiftboat politics , they have started again – karl rove politics, it is quite shameful and unbelieveable that the Clintons campaign could stoop this low just to win primaries. It is just too shameful.

    January 23, 2008 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  22. Mrs. America, somewhere, USA

    CNN, PLEASE WAKE UP!! WE TRUE AMERICANS CARE NOT ABOUT WHAT FAITH OUR LEADERS ARE, WE CARE ABOUT ISSUES, AND RIGHT NOW IT'S THE ECONOMY, STUPID!! LET'S GET OFF THE PERSONALITIES, PAST HISTORY, ETC. OF THOSE RUNNING FOR PRES AND LET'S GET ON THE ISSUES, FOR ONCE!!

    January 23, 2008 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  23. Andrew

    Ignorance = prejudice

    January 23, 2008 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  24. Adam from Ohio

    Too bad he has to surround himself in Christian iconography to placate the stupid sectors of our society. It just shows that religious tests are alive and well, and this country is too backward to accept an atheist. I would have infinite respect for somebody who stood up and said, "I am an atheist, and I do not believe that the acceptance of Jesus makes anybody more or less fit for office."

    January 23, 2008 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  25. John B.

    Slim, Last time I checked, there was no requirement that an individual be christian in order to run for office.

    January 23, 2008 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18