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

Obama battles Muslim rumor head-on

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/images/01/22/art.obamaemail.ap.jpg caption=" 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. Daniel Amde, DESMOINES, IOWA

    I would not vote for a candidate who can't take the presuure, who shed tear for losing single primary?? I think she will be confused to take decissions in any chiotic situation, and become tensed and disturbed??

    January 22, 2008 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  2. Eric Pearce

    John Edwards is the only candidate that acted presidental during the debate. Obama and Clinton were both giving school yard taunts. Edwards had a plan for everything and a way to pay for it.
    Edwards will now be my choice for president.

    January 22, 2008 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  3. Darth Vadik, CA


    just eat a piece of bacon in front of the cameras and get rid of that rumor.

    By the way, I could care less what Obama's religion is, I'd vote for him over any Republican candidate.

    January 22, 2008 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  4. David lee,newyork

    Obama has succeeded in bringing to the voting booths what has been said to be the largest group of young first-time voters in history. His optimistic speeches have washed away the paralysis, cynicism, and apathy of voters and his clear stance on the issues: better education, universal health care, environmental friendly energy bills, ending the war in Iraq, closing down Guantanamo, and building a better foreign policy face to the world all show that in this defining moment we are the ones who have to step up to the challenges of the 21st century by voting for those who best represent the interests of our generation. We are generation hope. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for!

    January 22, 2008 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  5. John Blackley, Austin, TX, USA

    I'm actually quite heartened by this article. So some old southern cracker believes Barack Obama's a "secret muslim"? So what? I'd be surprised if some of the older southerners don't believe he's a secret martian. Next, one of Obama's campaign backers is under indictment. Not yet tried, not yet found guilty, just under indictment. So what? I'd be surprised if there's a candidate – Republican or Democrat – who doesn't have a backer with a little smudge on his or her reputation.

    It's high time America had a president who did what the president needs to do – to provide goals to aim for, principles to stand by and an image to respect – as opposed to 'deciders', warmongers, torturers and defilers of the Constitution.

    January 22, 2008 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  6. Christian L., New York

    It's sad that Mr. Obama has to defend his religion. I applaud you for standing up against rumors. I think your eloquence, sophistication and respect for all Americans will take you straight to the White House on Jan. 20, 2009.

    January 22, 2008 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  7. Alex from NYC

    It wouldnt surpise me if a Clinton staffer was behind this, shes been quietly turning this into a race game when she realized she couldn't win without it.

    January 22, 2008 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  8. Zemo, Charlestown, South Carolina

    It is time for unification not division for the United States and Obama is ready to give us this. America has lost its most credibility in the outside world. Let nobody try fool you there. Time has come for change, we are tired hearing the same old 35 years experience that Clinton is claiming. Doing the same wrong things over and over. 35 years experience doing what???? Wake up America!! This is right time to take our country into the right direction. BARAK OBAMA is the best candidate.

    January 22, 2008 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  9. flyhoneybee, oak park, mi

    my question is, which Hillary will show up during wartime? She appears confused or at the least indicisive

    January 22, 2008 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  10. Murry

    Shame on whoever is spreading these lies on Senator Obama. I believe him but frankly, it does not matter to me what faith he subscribes to. He strikes me as a caring, honorable, and someone with integriy. That is the standard we must all aspire to regardless of faith.

    January 22, 2008 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  11. jack

    Does that mean Hillary and company started the rumor? Will Edwards be Hillary's VP? Lots of questions but no answers.

    January 22, 2008 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  12. Farzana Beeharry, Paris, France

    Ok, So what if Obama was muslim, suddenly we are all terrorists. Quite frankly, it is disgraceful how people who are suppose to be well educated enought to preside a country and make such cheap, petty allegations. Muslims, Islam is a religion it has nothing to do with terrorism and apparently those idiots have not learnt that yet. Why do we not discuss the facts that so many terrorist attacks were caused by white people, why do we never hear that? It is a disgrace to live in a world where our leaders are idiots and has no common sense.

    January 22, 2008 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  13. Oliver

    He being Muslim is not a problem. What scares his fellow democrats is his belief in God and being a committed religious person. This scares democrats because Hillary is mostly seen as godless, or moreso, her own god. Historically, she has no position on faith. It's a question that will soon come up...and Obama will be the victor in that regard.

    January 22, 2008 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  14. Ed Snook

    This "systematic political strategy" is just a small taste of what would come if Obama became the nominee. If he is worried about what the rumor/slander/bigotry mill will do to his standing among Democratic primary voters, just think of what it will do to his standing among the general presidential-year voter.

    January 22, 2008 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  15. James Brown ( Independent )

    We all know that these emails are just part of the Clinton's smear tactics.

    America is smart enough to know who is behind this garbage and why.

    Clinton's only know one way to play , dirty , dishonest ,say anything , do anything , to get elected.

    Bill needs to go hang out at his girl friends house until this thing is over.

    January 22, 2008 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  16. Frances Roberson, Croydon,Georgia

    I should imagine that this is some more slander in the name of politics rather than personal matters. I'm sure there are plenty of extremist Christians, NRA members etc who are secretly relieved that a black Christian man with allegiance to Africa (what a refreshing change) is out if front of them.

    January 22, 2008 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  17. HELEN




    January 22, 2008 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  18. Cathy Manton, MI

    It is incredible to believe that in this day and age we are worried about someone is "supposed to be according to those that are in competition with him" and make no mistake the presidential primaries are like the playoffs before the big game. If we start looking at a person's record whether it be Obama, Clinton or any of the other candidates and quit listening to the rhetoric put out by the opposing team ( psych out time) we become a better informed voter. Too many times I have heard " I voted fro the monster I knew rather than the one I didn't." We have a responsibility to ourselves and our children to make informed decisions about who we select to run our country. I can only imagine how many of us would vote for Obama if all we had to go by to make our selection was a list of the candidates' record ...no picture...no preformed opinions based upon media and campaign hype. Cathy Manton, MI

    January 22, 2008 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  19. LQ Rochester MN

    This has to stop!! I really don't care if Obama is Muslim, Christian, Jewish, or atheist or whatever.

    This is a dirty ugly attempt to make people think he is a potential terrorist.
    I hope we find out who is behind this.

    January 22, 2008 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  20. N

    Why is his religion being made into such a big deal??? Isn't this election based on candidate credentials and how they can move this country forward? It shouldn't matter if he is a Muslim, Christian or Jewish thats not what the election is about.

    January 22, 2008 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  21. nirosha

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

    January 22, 2008 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  22. Janel, St. Paul, MN

    It is tremendously sad and pathetic that there are hateful individuals who seem to get some thrill out of spreading such malicious rumors about Senator Obama that are proven to be untrue. This type of mud-slinging makes me sick!

    January 22, 2008 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  23. jcmx

    all i can say is that Sen. Obama better get used to all the exaggerations and close combing thru of his record because he's gonna get hit hard by the republicans and all their 'swift boat' groups that are after him.

    in fact, these faith questions floating around are only the tip... you should see what they are saying about him online and in the conservative blogs. its horrible!

    and wait until they start in on the drug rumors. all they have to say is that sure, Hillary may have been on the board of Walmart but he was out selling drugs in the poor neighborhoods of Chicago.

    he should be happy he's getting hit so hard right now.. i can see them salivating over the possibility of him winning the nomination.

    January 22, 2008 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  24. Dave

    Anyone with any intelligence knows where they come from. Without lies where would the Clintons be. It all began with "I did not inhale", and continues today.
    It is hard for me to understand how anyone can still take anything they say as fact or truth.

    January 22, 2008 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  25. joe

    Shows again the slow growth in power of the religious right in America – call me a simple European who believes that chuch and state should be separate, but who cares if he is muslim, christian, hindu or jew, or hopefully an athesist, as long as he can do a good job...

    January 22, 2008 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
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