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. dee

    I am for Hillary -Go girll!!!!!There are rumors that float around about all the candidates Obama play just as dirty as they all do. He is no different than any of the others. I just hope whoever wins puts as much effort into fixing the economy as they do telling people how great they are! Obama what is your plan still have not heard or seen a definite plan from you! I think this ticker needs to publish or display all the opinions and not be so one sided! Open up the debate for the public to decide and not the media!

    January 23, 2008 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  2. Mike

    As I sit here and read these comments from people regarding these rumors about Mr.Obama and yet they will have you believe that everything they see and hear must be true. The fact is when someone is trying to spread rumors they don’t show or report the whole story. No where have any of these allegations by HRC been verified to be true, yet you people still continue to bring these matters up. If any of you would take the time to do some research you would find that they are exactly what they are” lies” and misrepresented statements to only show that HRC will do and say anything to mislead this country. Sounds kind of similar to someone else we all know of recently does it?
    I watched the debate the other night just as I watched the Situation Room last night where it was confirmed that Obama was being truthful and that Hillary’s accusations were untruthful. My suggestion to all you is the future check your facts before making comments that are unfounded and you may find out who is really going to lead this country with conviction and truth.

    January 23, 2008 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  3. Jessica

    The sooner the candidates quit trying to find faults with the other (which are usually not true or we don't care if they are or not) and start telling us their views on the issues and how they plan to make changes, THE BETTER! We just want to hear what they stand for, believe in and how they're going to improve our nation.

    January 23, 2008 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  4. Roger


    When has George W Bush – since taking office – professed his faith in Jesus Christ? Even once? Come on.

    While Barack Obama has been attending services at evangilical Christian churches, Bush has been spending his summers attending Bohemian Grove meetings speaking in tongues, burning effigies, and worshipping an Owl god. And yet I don't see any of you maniacal, war mongering wingnuts challenging his faith.

    January 23, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  5. Starbuck

    Barack has never been a Muslim or practiced any other faith besides Christianity, and in January 2005 he was sworn into the U.S. Senate on his family Bible.

    January 23, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  6. charlotte

    Fear fuels bigotry more than anything else. After 9/11 people are fearful, after the likes of Osama Bin Laden and his Jihad rantings people are fearful, after Pearl Harbor people were fearful. The Patriot Act was inacted out of fear. We stand to lose our basic rights if we allow FEAR to rule our lives

    January 23, 2008 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  7. Kara Phoenix AZ

    I would first of like to say that this fear that our Government has installed in America is rediculous! I have studied many religions and Muslim is nothing but a peaceful religion. And secondly for the Clintons to feed on the fear the Bush admin. has created is contradictory to her so called anti-war stance. If she truely was against what we are doing in the middle east she would not be playing on America's fear. And thirdly, Obama is a great leader, no matter what his religion is. And obviously its Christain and always has been! People need to realize how munipulative Hilary is and put a stop to the deception America recieves from its leaders!

    January 23, 2008 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  8. Gloria B.

    Who is who? I don't care! The only thing I care is our children and grand children. Why we need to think and decide wisely to VOTE SMART. Because right now we not need a fresh, young man with excellent speeches, (someone is writing it for him) etc. We need someone that will bright up our economy.RIGHT NOW, WE ARE IN RECESSION, and who will be the right person? someone that will make the right policies and do the best for our country. If we have an excellent economy we'll have health care, education, jobs, social programs, immigration, etc. WE NOT NEED someone with a lack of experience in the White House. It is the best and hard job in the world to be president of our country. We need someone that will be a leader in the world, right now, our reputation is lack in foreign policies. WE NEED our economy back and our jobs. WE NEED TO DECIDE SMART AND VOTE SMART. For me ,CHANGE means, change the president, change our economy, change our future, change our health care, change our education for the best, change our social programs, change immigration policies, etc. UNITED for me, means united to vote for change president, united to vote smart, united to decide the best for our children and grand children. THE POWER OF THE PEOPLE IS VOTING SMART TO BRING OUR LEADERSHIP IN THE ECONOMY AND CONTINUE TO BE # 1 IN THE WORLD. WE NEED CHANGE THE PRESIDENT AND BE UNITED TO DO SO.
    I am an independent person that is worry for our nation and future.

    January 23, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  9. Suzane

    since one being a muslim is a crime thatone must clear his name from?
    Obama is acting as if he is called bad name or something... even people sending him such e-mails are acusing him of being muslim as if they are acusing him of murder or something..... thats STUPED

    January 23, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  10. Rosie from PA

    I was sent a picture of Obama thru email a long long time ago that shows him, Clinton, Governor Bill Richardson of Mexico, and Ruth Harkin standing during the playing of the national anthem and everyone–except Obama–has their hand over their hearts. They say a picture speaks volumes and if this is any indication of what he is all about forget it. I also agree with Bob W from NY. He may have converted to Christianity, but at one time he was a Muslim. I was taught the” truth will set you free”. He needs to acknowledge his 'roots'. Candidates should know that you can not 'hide' anything. I will vote for the person I feel can change this country around and right now I am leaning towards Hillary. You folks who criticized her for showing emotions at one press conference should be ashamed. We all have emotions and should they hide them while on the campaign trail. We are humans and yes she showed the schedule she was keeping was catching up with her. That was NOT fake! Let's hear more of the issues that bother you and not who cried and who did not. After all folks even 'Jesus wept'. He even had emotions–imagine that!

    January 23, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  11. Tom

    I have trouble believing that Clinton, Obama, Romney, and Giuliani care about the American people. They have raised 90 million, 80 million, 60 million, and 45 million respectively. What good will they do for the American people when they squander that much money slandering each other? I wouldn't vote for a candidate that has doesn't understand the value of a dollar, and I urge other voters to do the same.

    January 23, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  12. Tom

    I have trouble believing that Clinton, Obama, Romney, and Giuliani care about the American people. They have raised 90 million, 80 million, 60 million, and 45 million respectively. What good will they do for the American people when they squander that much money slandering each other? I wouldn't vote for a candidate that doesn't understand the value of a dollar, and I urge other voters to do the same.

    January 23, 2008 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  13. Thomas, NV

    "Vote for Real Change. Vote for Hillary or Edwards. Not for a fuzzy Change of Double Talk."

    You have obviously not read his book, or it is over your head. Either way, double talk and fuzzy politics are Hillary's forte. This man has been nothing but honest, and talked about every issue that has come up during this race.

    Hillary dodges every hot topic possible, and the press is simply afraid of pissing off Bill by really hitting her with the hard questions. Please! Bias? The press cannot ask Hillary tough questions for fear of losing any press access to her.

    Real change comes through voters saying "we're tired of this," and choosing a candidate that does not support these tired attempts at slandering the opposition. By the way... why hasn't the Clinton camp come out and said "what Barack said is false?" Is it possible that there is truth to it? Notice she counters with an attack on him that is false instead of combatting the real point that he has made. It's clear as day that instead of discussing any attacks leveled against her (which are truthful and factual) she would rather misdirect in order to take the attention off of herself. It's a fairly old trick that has been used for centuries.

    January 23, 2008 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  14. mw

    As a member of the UCC, I strongly resent the accusations being thrown at Mr. Obama and at the United Church of Christ. The United Church of Christ is a wonderful, warm, welcoming, and all-inclusive church. The UCC is proud of it's many "firsts" in ordination (first woman, first black, first openly gay male). Our forebears were instrumental in the defense of the mutineers of the slave ship Amistad. An early member of my particular church was a signer of the Delcaration of Independence (William Ellery). At our last General Synod (also our 50th Anniversary of the UCC), Mr. Obama spoke eloquently of our responsibilities not only as Christians, but as American Citizens.

    I'm proud to call him my brother in faith, but I would vote for him even if he were not. My choice of President looks not to his/her religion, but to what he/she can do for our country. I say the purveyors of this Muslim e-mail nonsense are appearing to be very desperate and terribly afraid of the refreshing change he would bring to our country. Perhaps if they did worked a little bit harder on their own homework they'd be spending less time trying to scare people.

    January 23, 2008 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  15. Mike

    Christian this, Muslim that, whatta 'bout us atheists? Good christians. OMG. Everyone now, lets pray. This isn't about polotics anymore, it's about religion. Should change from President to Pope, or Supreme religous leader. Screw seperation of church and state. can us atheists have our own state when the chips have fallen?

    January 23, 2008 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  16. Jay

    Mary, are you judging someone's Christianity? What kind of a Christian are you if only you are one. What kind of bible do you use?
    If Jesus Christ was to judge all of us according to our deeds, only God know how many of us will enter heaven.

    Even if he was a Muslim and changed to be a Christian, what is wrong with that? Isn’t this what this whole Christian thing is about, to speak to people who do not believe in Christ to believe he's the only way?

    And even if he is a Muslim, how perfect are we, do we think us better human beings than Muslims?

    No wonder some people do not think Christians do not live up to all this Christ talk

    January 23, 2008 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  17. Erick

    Obama is not a muslim. His father was not a muslim, he belonged to the luo tribes that are found in East Tribe. I lived in Kenya for a while and i know for a fact, luos are not Muslims, they are christians. Never heard of a luo becoming a Muslim, that is unheard of in africa.

    His first name Barack, means blessed in swahili language. His last name is obama, can be found used mostly in the Luo tribe, the tribe of his biological Father. Muslims use muhammed or suleiman or sheikh as there names.

    Don't believe in dirty political tactics because he is the stronger candidate. most luos are doctors, scientist and i'm not surprised he's smart and has fore sight something that he must have inherited from his late father.

    Google his tribe and you will learn more, don't let other people sling lies about him.

    January 23, 2008 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  18. Ray

    Obama "fans" will blame Hillary for anything. Well you can blame her for kicking NObama's butt when she kills him on Supre Tuesday!!!!!

    January 23, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  19. John, NC

    Sen. Barack OBAMA can solve this problem simply by clarifying the key issues:

    1. Did he/has he refused to recite the Pledge of Allegiance of the United States ever before?

    2. Does he consider the placing of one's hand on one's heart when the National Anthem or Pledge of Allegiance of the United States is being said, contrary to his beliefs?

    3. Come forth and be FORTHRIGHT about his relation to his father's (and step-father's) Muslim faith ... Did he "CONVERT" to Christianity, or was he ALWAYS a Christian? Not that there is anything wrong with either religion. JUST BE FORTHRIGHT, and answer the specific concerns that people have. That's all. Then fair-minded Americans can make up their own minds. Period.

    Folks, these are FAIR questions to ask of ANY Presidential Candidate of ANY COUNTRY or democracy, not just the United States of America.

    January 23, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  20. charlotte

    FEAR fuels bigotry. People are fearful after 9/11, Osama Bin Ladin created fear because of Jihad. The Patroit Act was inacted out of fear. Pearl Harbor made us fearful of all Japanese. Is it wrong to be fearful? Not unless, FEAR COST US OUR FREEDOMS.

    January 23, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  21. New Yorker, NYC, NY

    Joyce memphis, tn

    I completely Agree.

    January 23, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  22. Yamaka

    Obama's Muslim religion and Muslim connection was first brought up by Rush Limbaugh of the Radial Right Wing Attack Machine, and NOT by Hillary or Edwards.

    January 23, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  23. TSR

    The most powerful country in the history of the world with its people behaving like a third world country by falling again and again for lies and non factual story telling by the Clintons. Have we forgotten that it was a Clinton that looked the American people in the eyes on national television and stated that "I did not have sexual relations with that woman"(sic) When are Americans going to realise that the Clintons are power drunk and will stop at nothing to achieve this regardless who they hurt or drag down into the gutter. The Clinton Smear machine is alive and in high gear .Hillary is behaving like a spoiled child that if and when she doesn't get her way runs to daddy Bill and he unleashes his venemous attacks on her wrong doers until poor Hillarious Hillary gets her way,she believes that she's the rightful heir to the white house regardless of what the majority of Americans think. Maybe someday the people will see her for what she really is and elect a Republican again.

    January 23, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  24. Katherine

    I really hope Obama would not accept a VP slot with Hillary. Another CLinton administration would be full with just as much controversy as their first 8 years. They'er tied to so many shady people, not to mention the poor White House interns who'll have to run from Bill. Obama needs to stay far away from them or his reputation will really be ruined and he'll never be able to run again!

    If Hillary is the nominee, I sure hope Bloomberg gets in.

    January 23, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  25. TOM

    Why did Obama insist on using "THE CORAN" instead of the bible when he was sworn into office????????

    January 23, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
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