December 23rd, 2007
02:30 PM ET
7 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. Anna

    I wonder why Senator Obama considers himself a black man? His mother is white and he was raised by her. I am the grandmother of a bi-racial boy. He is white and black. But we consider him an American of black and white heritage. When Senator Obama was in South Carolina with Oprah, he said it was time for a black president. I did not hear him say that in Iowa. Will he say that in New Hampshire? He can't be on both sides of the fence. He is an American, running for president of the United States and is of black and white parents. My grandson wants to know why he considers himself a black man when he was raised by his mother who is white?

    January 4, 2008 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  2. mougy

    why does he consider being a muslim being wrong,but then if he said he was nobody would choose him.....

    January 4, 2008 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  3. Mohammad Yaseen

    A person should not be judged by his ethnicity, if some one does then it is against our own constitution, All of these politicians (Hillary, republicans) who are against Obama are trying to make this an issue and now they have lost my vote for them.

    I am a registered Republican but now i will vote for Obama.

    As an American it is our responsibilty that we behave according to our constitution and make this country an example in the world.

    This is a presidential election and we should talk on the issues which we are facing now like jobs, economy, security, medicare and national debt.

    We can not continue this non sense discussion.

    January 4, 2008 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  4. Masoud

    Well it is your loss senator, being a muslim should be something that honores you and ultimatley saves you. Defending that you are not a muslim will one day haunt you, if yo know what I mean 😉

    January 4, 2008 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  5. Concerned

    I am a military man and a Christian.........hard to discern if you are a Jehova's witness who does not believe in service to anything/one other than God. Bombing inocents in the name of Mohamed does not compute with the religion of Islam. Catholics don't go to church as often, but feel they have a passport to the promised land if certain guidlines are followed.............Tired of it being about many differences. Who is this guy really? Tough question; my vote has to come from something other than an endorsement from Oprah! America pull your head out, think of what is really best for this country. Not saying Sen. Obama is not.....just look into all options. Examine his answers to the tough questions and if he passes the I honestly will wait till the end; listen to all and do what I think is best for me and my family. My family isdivided democrat and republican; me personally, |I am for what brings back the best in us....the actual caring for one another and what this country is all about........freedom. I want my kids to grow up in a town like I did; a place where we did not worry about crime or much of anything. These days, I am afraid to let them out of the house without me. If you want to vote and be involved, be educated; otherwise, you are basing your decisions on falsisms and/or misinformation; something of which, politicians are very good at deceiving us with. Give me the more simple times!

    January 5, 2008 01:05 am at 1:05 am |
  6. BJ

    Obama is a shady character. He reminds me of the guy who ties the damsel to the railroad tracks while laughing... I think he's got ulterior motives for wanting to be President. Listen to the rhetoric. Something smells here!!

    January 6, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  7. William

    Barack Obama is not qualified to be President. He's intelligent, well-spoken, and many other positive things but he really doesn't have the experience to run the country nor is it at all clear from the passionately pronounced platitudes he spouts what the heck his real positions and thoughts are on the issues. dd to that the fact that he had a Muslim father and stepfather and attended a Muslim religious school that taught the Karan during a period of his formative years and has artfully played down his Muslim roots, and he is one candidate who makes me very uneasy. maybe after a few more years of experience and demonstrating his true abilities we can gain a clearer picture of him as a leader not just an orator.

    January 6, 2008 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  8. Larry

    Were in the middle of a war on terror with radical Muslims. Barack Obama may be a secular Muslim, but he was still fathered and stepfathered by Muslims. This nation can't afford to elect this guy. His Inexperience disqualifies him as much as his upbringing. His name might as well be Osama Obama.

    January 7, 2008 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  9. Larry

    Were in the middle of a war on terror with radical Muslims. It"s unclear whether Barack is a practicing Mulim, but the fact is he was raised in the Muslim faith. It would be foolish under the present circumstance to elect this inexperienced "question mark" to the highest office in the land. Who is he? What is he? Where is his campaign funding coming from?

    January 7, 2008 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  10. colt

    Forget the religious background of this joker.......RESPECT THE COUNTRY IN WHICH YOU ARE TRYING TO WIN THE ELECTION FOR.

    January 7, 2008 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  11. jane

    What religion a canidate practices and his background does effect American's. Perhaps if we weren't fighting in a Muslin war in Iraq, Afganistan and Pakistan we could overlooked the background of our Presidental canidate. I for one am not willing to take a chance on him when there are other viable candiates where this is not an issue or concern. I am sorry, I am fearful of the Islam and Muslins. I cannot forget 9/11.

    January 7, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  12. colt

    i wonder if this joker will recite the pledge of allegiance during any tribute to the 911 victims........probably not.
    a likely candidate for a president...........think again.....

    January 7, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  13. Nadeem

    Some of you seem to be under the impression that muslims are bad people, it is inferred in the concern you have for obama being a muslim. Do you realise what this makes you? It makes you no better than the fundementalist morons that want to kill you. In fact i would go so far to say that you are indeed facists much like hitler in WW2.

    If you really want to respect your country read your own constitution and stop trying to bend it to suit your own facist desires for a christian fundementalist state also stop propagating dubious information.

    January 8, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  14. ed

    WAKE -UP AMERICA ! Is he a muslim or not , even the question beggs an air of causon...why take a chance with a possible "MUSLIM PLANT" in the highest post in our government. Don't say ,thats rediculas, because the muslim hords have pulled the same trick in other countries, move in ,get your numbers up, get elected and take over.... somthing like the Mexican illigals are trying here ! WAKE-UP befor it's to late..........................................................................................

    January 8, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  15. Russ

    Just had the facts brought to my attention. My first reaction is IF this all is true (and it appears to be so), in this day and age how did he even get to be a Senator, let alone Heaven forbid the President of the USA?

    January 8, 2008 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  16. Sherry, Connecticut

    Did it ever occur to anyone that just maybe Obama is not actually downplaying his Muslim background, but rather telling the truth about it? So he lived in Jakarta and attended a Madrassa; but he also attended a Catholic school. Which is what he has said all along, as well as written in his book. And any way, who cares?! Are the citizens of this country so ignorant and paranoid that we actually believe Islamic terrorists have somehow controlled Obamas career and steered him into running for president? Come on now! Our country is founded on religious freedom – it doesn't specify that freedom for only specific, popular religions, but rather ALL of them. We, as a country of voters, should be paying attention to what Obama is going to do about education, health care, social security, and getting our troops home, not what religion he may or may not be.

    January 9, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  17. Wilma

    We need to be very concerned as a nation founded on Christian principals that whoever we elect to any office is truthful in all matters.I understand that all who do not believe in Allah,who by the way is not the God of the Bible, are considered infidels and are to be destroyed.
    We do not automatically become a Christian because we were exposed to those beliefs in home and school.There has to be a point in time that we come personally to the only one true God of the Holy Bible in repentence,confessing that we are sinners,believing by faith that Jesus Christ ,God's only begotten son paid our sin debt in full by His death on the cross of Calvary and that He was raised from the dead on the third day and rose bodily to Heaven and will return one day to judge the living and the dead.
    Just because we sit in a garage does not make us a car.

    January 9, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  18. Yamaka

    "Barak Hussein Obama" is a Muslim name given by his parents to Obama. His father Barak Hussein Obama Sr was born and brought up as a Muslim in Kenya. Maybe, as a college student he did not practice Islam, and he married Obama's mother who herself was not a practicing Christian. After the divorce, she married another Indonesian Muslim and moved to Indonesia, where Obama attended a Muslim public school for two years, then a Christian school for another two years. As most people know, Indonesia is the largest Muslim country in the world.

    It is quite possible that Obama had had early education in Islam through his step father; it is also possible he even attended mosque accompanying his step father. Unless, Obama specifically says otherwise truthfully, most men and boys attend mosque at least on Fridays in most Muslim countries including Indonesia.

    To me it looks that Senator Obama has NOT given the total truth of his upbringing, his early days in Indonesia etc. If he has changed to Christianity then why he keeps his "Hussein" as middle name?

    From Saddam Hussein, most people in US know that Hussein is a Muslim name, not that it is wrong or being a Muslim is bad. But the Senator is NOT telling truthfully and candidly his whole life history.

    His early school records will tell whether he was registered as Muslim or not in Indonesia. If he was not registered as a Muslim, then his name needs to be changed officially not to include Hussein as his middle name.

    The confusion and doubts come because of his name and his refusal to publish is early school records.

    Being a Muslim is NOT bad. But the US electorate needs to know whether Barak was a Muslim anytime in his life.

    Senator Obama is tall, handsome and has good speaking skills. But, as he called himself as "a skinny guy with a funny name", his experience in public life is very slim and skinny and clearly his name is confusing.

    His victory in Iowa and his ability to raise so much money is quite unbelievable. Press must scrutinize him thoroughly.

    Senator Obama, release your early school records immediately.

    January 14, 2008 12:55 am at 12:55 am |
  19. tara

    It does very much matter if he is a muslim because America was founded on God not the God that the muslims worship We can not let someone worshipping a strange God run our country

    January 14, 2008 07:55 am at 7:55 am |
  20. Neo The One

    Hmmmm... why not saying my great great great great great grandpa is homo sapiens... it was like over 400,000 years ago... that time there weren't any religions... but yeah they did have a belief their god is trees.. .cause trees give every sapiens food.... and by the way he is probably your root also....
    vote for candidates who believe in trees not flowers, great we go back to sapiens period

    January 15, 2008 05:51 am at 5:51 am |
  21. mike skipper

    These are not just questions about his religious beliefs.
    Everyones real questions:
    * Was Barack Obama raised in a home whose father and step father were radical Muslims.
    * Can this presidential candidate and his family pass a background check, in order to have access to all the classified material a president has access to?
    * Would this candidate wage a war against his own people or at the very least his parents people. This really needs to be answered honestly.
    * Why has the news media not ask these questions already?

    I and the American people have a right to know.

    January 17, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  22. Darlene

    Why does everyone leave Obama's middle name out in the papers and news. They put in every other candidates middle name out. Why are they trying to hide it.

    I feel that because Moslims are a threat to world peace we should not vote for any one that is or has been with Moslim faith. During world war ll, would we put a leader in office that was had parents that followed hitler.

    This is scary for me and others who question his background.

    Hillary has no political background except for following her husband around in office. That is not enough for me..

    Lets have a leader in the office this time without worry about a racial, religious, and no experience candidate.
    We the people....

    January 21, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  23. T. Brown

    Obama is a liar. He will be the catalyst for the destruction of the United States

    February 5, 2008 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  24. Obama x pills

    Everybody offers thoughts and it looks this runs specifically true regarding state policies and religion. All over the place that will several people congregate, it's likely a conversation ...spilleautomater online

    February 8, 2012 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15