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. BobW Rochester, NY

    "He has a Muslim name. His biological father was Muslim and in the Muslim faith if your father was a Muslim so are his children. His step-father was a Muslim and he was raised in Indonesia, a Muslim country. He may have converted but he was a Muslim when he was young and to say he wasnt is disingenious."

    Where do you get this stuff? Obama spent a couple of years in Indonesia. He did not grow up there. The faith of Islam is not dictated by birth. Every individual has the choice to be Muslim or not. (Read the Holy Koran) You are not born into the religion or baptised into the religion any more than you are born into being a Baptist or a Lutheran. I would suggest people post the facts and not perpetuate the ignorance that seems to abound.

    January 23, 2008 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  2. Anthony

    I don't think I've ever read so many ignorant comments all on one page in my life! Considering CNN is moderating the incoming comments, this is a disgrace and totally repugnant. I will be moving on to another news source which emphasises a higher journalistic and reporting standard.

    January 23, 2008 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  3. Marlene Osborn

    Obama seems to think it's okay to be "black" sometimes, but just an ordinary citizen at other times. Quite frankly, I was offended when he was asked if Bill Clinton was "the first black president," and Obama replied that he didn't know, he would have to see him dance. Now, had Hillary or John Edwards made that remark about a black person, it would have been headlines in the new the next day. Based on that remark alone, he lost my vote. Call in the race card when it's convenient? NEVER!

    January 23, 2008 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  4. Stacy Clarks, Texas

    The ignorance in this country is shocking. What happened to separation of church and state?!?!?!

    Obama/Edwards 08!

    January 23, 2008 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  5. Kay

    I could not figure out what it was that bothered me when I listened to Mr. Obama speak. I felt I was waiting for something, but it never came. I watched him today and finely figured it out. He spends all his time defining the problems facing the American People...but dosnt very often come up with any solutions. We dont need someone to tell us what the problems are, we know them, we live them. What we do need is for him to tell us what he plans to do to solve the problems.

    January 23, 2008 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  6. Richard

    Obama has my vote! He is exactly what this country needs right now.

    January 23, 2008 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  7. sunnyday

    who cares about his religion, can he handle the presidency that should be the question. All he does is fuss and defend his position, can he do anything else?

    January 23, 2008 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  8. Jones in Sacramento

    If the man says that he is not a muslim, then he is not a muslim. What does it matter anyway if his message his on track? George Bush is a Christian but look at all the pain he's causing. People need to get a grip and stop being sidelined by all the hoop-la because it's just a distraction from the things we really need to pay attention to.

    January 23, 2008 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  9. Hawk,Texas

    These e-mails are a product of Karl Rove and the republican party.

    January 23, 2008 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  10. Mike

    Obama's opponents are trying to keep him on the ropes. He needs to talk about his ideas and plans and quit responding to the Clintons. Who cares what they think. I'm tired of Bill and Hillary. Enough is enough.

    January 23, 2008 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  11. Coke Turner III

    who cares? whatever happened to separation of church and state? are not we all the children of abraham?

    January 23, 2008 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  12. tim

    this is to Paul W. in Tampa Florida......who said "As Neil Simon says: Why would anyone go to the trouble of writing it down if it wasn't true?"

    that is a pretty naive statement, paul. obviously someone wrote it down because they wanted to hurt obama. THINK. please.

    January 23, 2008 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  13. Tristan Penton

    I don't see why being a muslim is a problem.

    January 23, 2008 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  14. Sherma

    Hilary & Bill are only pretending that they love blacks and the blacks are really falling for this garbage. I cant understand what she means by 35 years of experience – Yes she may have 35 years experience – but the question is -In What? Is she counting the years her husband was governor and in the white house as her experience. If this is the case – then the fact is the US is really voting to put BILL back into the white house as it would be HE that will be running things. I imagine this is the case, since he has been going on like a dirt back in recent weeks.

    January 23, 2008 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  15. Joyce memphis, tn

    First off, I'm a Black woman who supportes Hillary. But Obama is loosing focus. He his sooo busy with this "he say she say" mess that he is not talking about his policies. Well maybe that's all he has to talk about besides "peace, love, and soul." When John Edwards asked him where and how he will obtain the money for his programs, Obama stumbled. When he is asked tough questions, he stumbles then sings "Kum Bah Hah." Okay Obama..WE GET IT!!! You are not a Muslim (and I don't care) and you are "fighting both Clintons." (Just like Hillary is fighting against the media, the republicans, both Obamas, and his biased supporters but she is not complaining, is she?). So shut up and tell the American people how you will fix this country without the tools.

    January 23, 2008 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  16. zak

    so being a muslim is offensive? Is this the America we want to be part of? Whatever happened to not judging someone on their faith? What happened to treating everyone equal and with dignity? That was the America I grew up in!! Its time we put all these racist agendas behind us and move forward to make this country a better place than what it is now.

    Obama is the only person that can take this country to new heights. We cannot have 4 more years of the same nonsense, which the Clinton campaign will give us. Hillary Clinton is no Bill Clinton. She has resorted to cheap tactics and antics to win over Obama. Its disgraceful that Hillary Clinton is hurting the standards and values of her entire party for her personal goals. Its pathetic. I hope she doesn't lower herself further.

    This is a position for the President of the United States. If you want our votes, try acting like the President of the United States.

    January 23, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  17. JD - St. Pete, FL

    Why are we afraid of an inspirational speaker who tells the truth. I am tired of the devisive tricks the "Older Style" politicians are doing on both sides of the aisle.

    I want to vote for someone who wants to work for ME and the people of the US by listening to OUR problems and NEEDS.

    Hillary knock it off you are making a fool of yourself and Bill needs to take a back seat and tune down his hearing aids. They are from the "OLD GUARD" and we need a breath of fresh air, not some older style politicians who decides a way to get rid of your opponents is to ruin them in the public eye and stay clean.

    We are tired of the old style politicians thinking we are all stupid, we aren't !

    Signed by an Republican who is voting Democrat this year if Barak Obama is our candidate. Otherwise, I'll back Republican candidate.

    January 23, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  18. Wufpakmom, Illinois

    I see CNN is also lacking quite a bit of courage, as my previous comment was "moderated". Okay, boys. I'll tone it down for you.

    The disgusting continuation of the "Obama as Taliban Agent" myth by those on this blog (and everywhere else) is nothing more than a smoke screen for rampant racism. These comments I'm reading? This is fear talking and walking large. This is fear that for once in our lifetimes there is a credible African-American candidate for the highest office in our land.

    I won't waste any more time trying to educate these frightened nincompoops.

    January 23, 2008 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  19. SC Voter

    There are so many little things going on in South Carolina right now... in my town, Clinton supporters are pulling up any Obama sign on the road, and replacing them with "Hillary" signs. I have seen this happen several days now..... (Obama signs early in the morning ... replaced by the afternoon)

    I'm sure this is not a direct order by the Hillary campaign, but it does reinforce a bad attitude and image that is slowly growing between the two campaigns and in particular a bad image in my mind at least about Hillary's campaign.... Obama seems to be reacting while Hillary seems to be proactive in political criticisms and not letting up.

    I think I'm changing my mind... I'm now leaning towards Obama!

    January 23, 2008 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  20. Audrey

    Obama might not be a practicing Muslim but according to Islamic law, there is no such thing as inter-religion marriage. The non-muslim spouse would have to convert to the Islam .( But I don't think this is practiced in Western countries). However, the off-springs are definitely and automatically Muslim. This is according to the Islamic law. So though Obama might not be a practicing Muslim, he is definitely a Muslim since he's father is.

    January 23, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  21. Jamis

    To all you know nothings talking about indonesia...I used to live there too...and "technically' I was muslim because of family ties...However I never believed any of this retarded religion non sense (and as a kid till you are older it dont matter) so if someone asks me if I was ever muslim....I say NO, because I wasn't..you have to actually believe in the great juju in the sky to be muslim.....You don't inherit religion dummies!

    January 23, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  22. Ann

    Mary...what is your point. true christians would not wear a cross on their chest or earring in their ear or rings on their fingers (other than wedding band) etc. get a grip and give us some real facts.

    January 23, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  23. Erickson

    Yamaka you are very out of line.
    If we are really going to stand for what is "TRUTH", some folks need to pay close attention to what is going on from the "CLINTON CAMP".
    It really shocks me that Folks can question a persons Faith and Religion and completely forget that someone who once sat at the most powerful and respected position in this country and the world, "CHEATED ON HIS WIFE WITH ANOTHER WOMAN, TRIED TO COVER HIS ACT OF ADULTARY and LIED UNDER OARTH is not being taken in any consideration. We don't need to be reminded of any defilements of the past. We need a new legacy that is ready to stand for what is right.

    With all due respect, if I were Bill Clinton I would keep my mouth shut....

    Anyone in Obama's position would "feel frustrated" if "someone" with a different color skin who defiled the diginity of the highest office in America is being compared to a "black brotha". That's an insult period!
    Moreover, I thought that "we all shall be judged not by the color of our skin but by the content of our character..... wouldn't we??

    January 23, 2008 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  24. Marilyn Bryan, Taylor, AR

    A huge majority of blog contributors accuse others of being "slanderers" and then
    slander the "slanderers" by repeating things they do not absolutely know to be
    true. Those pro and con need to get a life, focus on the issues not personalities,
    and commit to the serious thinking that makes for educated voting. That is the
    only hope for the nation.

    January 23, 2008 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  25. joe

    Obama always says "change", but as a senator, he voted "present " over 100 times.
    I am so surprised for this big number. did he know how to be a responsible man?

    January 23, 2008 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
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