August 23rd, 2010
10:02 AM ET
4 years ago

My interview with Obama on his Christianity and the 'Muslim issue'

 Only about one-third of Americans can correctly identify President Obama’s religion, according to a recent poll.
Only about one-third of Americans can correctly identify President Obama’s religion, according to a recent poll.

(CNN) – Long before last week's revelation that a large and growing chunk of Americans believe that the President is Muslim – and that only about one in three Americans correctly identify him as Christian – Barack Obama was battling misperceptions about his religion.

In early 2008, right as Obama was in desperate need of a win in the South Carolina primaries – he'd beaten Hillary Clinton in Iowa's first-in-the-nation caucuses but lost to her in subsequent contests in New Hampshire and Iowa – false rumors swirled that he was Muslim.

Obama's father was raised in a Muslim household, though the presidential candidate had repeatedly called him an agnostic, and Obama had spent time attending an Indonesian school where most students were Muslim. An e-mail smear campaign alleged that the White House hopeful was disguising his true faith.

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Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (53 Responses)
  1. jpmichigan

    Grant it his father was a Muslim, his mother atheists (no religion).. Attended Muslim school in Indonesia. 17 years he sat in the pew at Reverent Wright church hearing the preaching of Black Liberation Theology. Then there the matter of Obama's ditching any Christian religious observance since leaving Trinity United Church. And his skipping of the National Prayer Breakfast. But he hosted the Iftar (Ramadan) dinner at the White House, endorsing the Ground Zero Mosque. Let us not forget his bowing to the King of Saudi-the protector of Mecca and Medina. Why would American thing Obama is a Muslim in Christian clothing?

    August 23, 2010 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  2. sonny chapman

    "This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." John 13,35.

    August 23, 2010 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  3. Illinoistom

    Who cares? I am more bothered that he listened to Jeremiah Wright spew hatred and racism for 20 years in a "Christian" church than I would be if he was concealing a Muslim faith.

    August 23, 2010 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  4. Marco

    Who cares even if Obama were Muslim. Are we going to round up Muslims in internment camps even though we have Muslims fighting in the armed forces and police to keep America safe? Or should we send them to death camps? I guess history does repeat itself!

    August 23, 2010 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  5. AB

    This business about the president's religious status is a mere distraction and is his personal business. President Obama was elected by an overwhelming number of Americans for his ability to put forth ideas for solving the country's economic problems and not for his religion. I wish that we would all just focus on his ideas and problem solving abilities and leave issues about his religious preferences alone.

    August 23, 2010 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  6. Rabbi David

    There is no smear to it.I don't get it-if it walks like a duck,talks like a duck and acts like a duck-then it is.The media is so desperate to salvage this guys position its sickening.I have less of a problem if the guy just said-"I was raised amongst Mulsims and I have Christian beliefs-Just as I am of a mixed background so is my soul and that is where my strength comes from,not my weakness". If he keyed on his diversity I don't have a problem-but its the open cover up of the obvious that sours inside people.
    For 5 decades people have been openly lied to by government on about everything and this sort of non sense will simply push people into voting for somebody else,but then if you really take it apart-that is exactly what they need to get Obama back in for 4 more in 2012. Without a lot of Republicans around to clog things up,then Obama and company have nobody to blame but themselves for collective failure to lead and achieve.

    August 23, 2010 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  7. G4

    His religion doesn't really matter, I'm sure he's Christian. I think that he just needed to be more sensitive to the concerns of Americans about their "gut feel" about this Mosque and recreation center near ground zero. Sometimes I think President Obama is very eloquent but maybe he and his team doesn't think before they make statements. Clearly this group has the right to build a Mosque near ground zero, but doing so may open a further rift between many Americans and the Muslim American community. How about an interfaith recreation and worship center that has symbols of all of the worlds major religions prominently displayed? That would be a gesture of good will.

    August 23, 2010 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  8. Dr Matrix

    Islam is a legitimate religious philosophy and nowhere in the laws of this country does it disqualify a person from public office. Why is anyone allowing this to become an issue other than as a smokescreen for their real dislike of Obama? The man was handed a pile of crap in Jan 2009 and the people who gave it to him are only trying to distract the people from whatever changes for better or worse have taken place since then. Evaluate the man and his performance, do not allow meaningless false diversions like this and he is not an American citizen to drive the debate. Wake up and think or sit back and accept more of the same problems that put us here today.

    August 23, 2010 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  9. Augsbee

    Obama is a born Muslim turned Christian. I think that many Americans do understand "Muslim" and that Muslims have believed for 100's of years that the seed of Islam is passed down from father to son, therefore, you are born Muslim. Obama was born Muslim in the eyes of Muslims because his father was Muslim and out of respect to Muslims many of us accepted that he was born Muslim because that is Muslim believe. Just like Jews are born Jews if the mother is Jewish. Who are we to contradict these people's believes, faith??????
    Now, that Obama chose to become a Christian, well, that is Obama's Freedom of Religion in our country, but it doesn't change Muslims' traditional believe that Obama was born Muslim as his father was also born Muslim. Muslims have believed this for 100's of years.

    August 23, 2010 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  10. katiec

    This is once again an issue due to the republicans grasping at anything they can to spread negativity and the media jumping on the band wagon. Anything to sensationalize and get headlines.
    President Obama is a true, caring, compasionate, intelligent, dedicated man and his religion should not be an issue at all. You have your politicians who, while hiding behind their Bibles, commit numerous sins with their lies, distortions, fear mongering and hypocrasy. Yet their integrity, actions, motives are never questioned.
    The American people are becoming more disappointed, disgusted and horrified with a political party who has done nothing but try to continue the destruction of our country.

    August 23, 2010 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  11. FM

    I do not blame those who can't correctly identify the President's religion. I do blame those who are doing these kind of polls. What was the purpose of doing so? Those who are ignorant (especially when you are a grown up and voted 2008), will always remain so.

    August 23, 2010 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  12. Michael in Houston

    The Presidents critics are not interested in the facts of Obama's birthplace or his faith. He was, is, and always will be a US born citizen and he was, is, and always will be a Christian.

    Now his critics know this, then entire planet knows this, but to admit the facts would require cowards to stop using this ridiculous fabricated story to keep the ignorant...ignorant.

    It staggers my mind that despite all the truth here, that no matter what is proven in broad daylight, there remain some anti Obama VOTERS that refuse to accept facts. Likely because it would require them to show some intellegence and rational thinking which they are of course completely and utterly unable to do.

    August 23, 2010 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  13. recondon

    I don't think he is either, if he were it would be undeniable because of his actions. The real issue is his lack of sincerity on the issue, he is trying to be all things for all people.

    August 23, 2010 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  14. Granny Griper

    The president is not a muslim, but did you know the citizens of Minnesota have a muslim senator in the US Senate? Now tell me how in the world did that happen. He was even sworn into the senate on the Quran.
    Shows you how much the people of this country know what is going on.

    August 23, 2010 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  15. Former Republican - Now Independent

    This is a non-issue to real Americans who are concerned about their country and their futures.

    Our leader's religion became a non-issue in 1960 when Roman Catholic JFK was elected as president. Remember all those fear-mongers in both parties who said that if Kennedy became president the U.S. would be controlled by the Vatican? It was just as stupid then as this muslim issue is now.

    When are we going to learn?

    August 23, 2010 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  16. Russel

    I think the polling question should be rephrased. For a long period many people knew without a doubt that Obama is a Christian. But its his actions, his words, his muslim sympathy and empathy and fear (as that of the media) of offending the muslims that is making many people wonder if he is a mulsim in sheeps clothing.

    Muslim nations are not friendly to western culture, the Muslim religion isn't tolerant of other religions, muslim nations are anti-christian and anti-semetic, muslim nations and most of the muslim faith are for sharia law – and as those beliefs encroach into western culture...American culture...the people of this nation see our President (yes, with a muslim name) doing everything in his power to bend over backwards for muslims, yet play 'neutral' to his own faith and the predominant faith of the US.

    I am an atheist; but as a student of history I understand all too well the importance of Christianity and its roll in helping form our great nation. I see the media's relentless attack on Christianity, and fear/respect of Islam, as formidable influence on Obama's extremely liberal upbringing – and now the two feed off each other.

    August 23, 2010 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  17. jules sand-perkins

    I have absolutely no interest in what thr President's religion is or in whether or not he has one.
    It has nothing to do with his job performance.
    What happened to the separation of church and state?

    August 23, 2010 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  18. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    Why does anyone even care which silly superstition Obama endorses? For a man whose job is putatively to make all the hard decisions, it's kinda scary that he can take seriously any religious drivel at all. It shows a profound lack of any ability to think critically.

    Obama is a walking disaster as a president, but that has nothing to do with his religion.

    August 23, 2010 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  19. Jesse in Texas

    Mr. Obama is such a skilled liar that you can not take anything he says as being the truth. The old adage holds true here. "If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck", etc.etc.

    August 23, 2010 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  20. Dan, TX

    I don't understand the press. It is quite obvious that many of the people who said they believe Obama is a Muslim are lying, just to jerk the chains of the press. The press falls for it hook, line, and sinker. Either that or the American people are too stupid to be ruled by democracy and we need a dictator to take charge. Oh wait, we already have a dictatorship controlled by the oligarchs. America is in decline only because its people prefer ignorance to knowledge. The fall of America, like the fall of Rome, is inevitable as we repeat history like lemmings. A house divided can not stand and right now we embrace division for the sake of division. Try to solve problems earnestly? Depends on what the definition of solving problems are. Second Amendment solutions works both ways.

    August 23, 2010 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  21. aproudmemberoftheunpatrioticmob

    It would appear that most of his followers have started a religion based on hmi, right dominican mama, The precepts are very simple, lie, cheat and steal to get whatever you want and slam and blast everyone who disagrees with you. Don't worry about morality or ethics, you control almost all of the media and its followers will label the rest with falsehoods.

    August 23, 2010 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  22. Bessy

    It's about time that people forget all about this crap. The man is a Christian, although it doesn't matter what religion he follows. He was married in a Christian church and his children were baptized as Christians. It is just a political thing brought about by the Republicans to keep the uninformed, uninformed. It just goes to show how gullible some people are.

    August 23, 2010 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  23. terry,va

    He can't be of Christian faith when he hung out with Rev. Wright for 20 years. No one that listens to G.D. to America and the chickens have come home to roost when talking about 9/11 is of Christian faith or have American values.

    He bows to muslims and takes their part at ground zero. You decide. I have and he is a closet muslim.

    August 23, 2010 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  24. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    I don't even know why this is a story. We know that from the 2008 campaign the President obviously is a Christian. Did everyone all of a sudden forget about the Jeremiah Wright controversy? CNN, you are starting to become like Fox News reporting on these bogus stories.

    August 23, 2010 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  25. jim

    Why is this reporter telling this story based on what a person is saying? Should he not be checking out what that person is saying to make sure he is being told the truth.Just because Obama says something doesn't make it true.Actions speak louder than words and you can see by the reporters own words that he's more interested in making Obama look good as opposed to getting to the truth.

    August 23, 2010 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
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