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. Ann

    This proves to me that some Americans will believe anything.. Obama is a christian. People pushing this rumor or any other rumor are voting for the Billary anyway..

    January 23, 2008 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  2. Greg in OH


    that is not true. He has stated that his mother is white and father black, but in this country, if you are any part black, you are black. It is very wrong, but that is how it is in this country. Plus he has not been stating he is black either, he is saying he is an American and skin color does not matter.

    January 23, 2008 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  3. Lisa, Texas

    Yamaka....my school records do not show my religious status.

    January 23, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  4. Becky

    Who cares what religion he is...but the problem is probably coming from the fact that his middle name is Hussein....He would have been a bit smarter to have changed it if he knew he had ambitions to be President of the United States...but there is such a fear after 9/11 of anything that has to do with Islam and the middle east...............In that interview did he touch on the subject of his middle name?? I know it was his fathers middle name...but as he says he had no part in his life growing up...so then my question is....why keep that name..????? It is causing a lot of problems for him.....Bush didn't help by telling the whole world and especially the American people that Sadaam Hussein was a terrorist who was going to destroy the United States of America.....and inferred that he was part of the bombing on 9/11...of which he was not.....but you know as well as I do that a lot of Americans still believe Bush's lies..........................................

    January 23, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  5. Diddy

    Muslim or not what difference does it make??? Is he less of a man for being a muslim? what do we say about the other billion people who are muslim?

    We are a nation of immigrants who unite under one flag, One Nation Under God . Until now we thought only White men had the right to be President of the United States. We have a chance to shatter that myth. I hope in the end we'll have the courage to elect Barack as the next President of the United States. He's more than qualified and his opponents are using all the dividing tactics they can think of to try to stop this man... It's sad and yet typical.

    January 23, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  6. Jamis

    OMG, They let you people vote!?!?!

    January 23, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  7. Frank J. (MO)

    Many voters do care (although they should not). That's why the Clintons send these rumors out. These dirty tricks have always, always, always worked with voters that have a short attention span.

    For my part, I will even vote for a republican candidate if Billary would be the the democratic nominee. I would even donate for a republican campain.

    The past election have been cliff hangers for us Democrats with decent or somewhat decent candidates ... the blast from the past, back to the future will not cut it this time. If we look back and are afraid to reach out we all will be stuck.

    A Billary on the ticket would sink the boat ... the good news would be that there will be another election in 4 years. I am not sure how much would be left of the Democratic Party after a post-Bush defeat though ...

    OBAMA 08 !


    January 23, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  8. Roger

    I'm a Democrat, and I'll vote for George W Bush for a third term before I ever vote for Hillary Clinton.

    January 23, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  9. Jay

    The fact of the matter is if Hillary win's the nomination John McCain will be president.

    This why,
    Hillary depends on the democratic base and did not broaden the base.
    Hillary do not attack independents
    Most of the new democratic voters are anybody but Hillary voters (they are voting for Obama or Edwards now.
    And you and I know she just energize the republican base.
    SO all Hillary has is the democratic base.

    John McCain is likeable, he might not have the republican base now but with Hillary he would not have to ask and they will show up.
    Independents like John McCain.
    And do not forget the new democratic voters who are anybody but Hillary voter.

    Guess what, John Kerry lost to GWB because of this same scenario. John Kerry did not broaden the base. Carl Rove did (he brought in evangelicals and independents)

    One there other hand, Obama being smart broaden the base, brought in the anybody but Hillary voters, independents and some republicans as his base. So in the general election all he needs is the democratic base and he wins.

    January 23, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  10. A Gringo

    Actual this entire topic needs to be put to rest. Faith should be and must be returned to a non topic in politics. Thank the republicans for equating themselves with God and democrats as godless liberals intent on ruining the "moral fiber" of the United States (this started with Regan campaign in the 80's). I would love to see a candidate when asked about their faith respond back with "I dont ask you about when you have sex with your spouse, I'll mind my business and you mind yours". The minute a candidate starts stumping on their faith then they should be removed from running for office at any level, state or federal.

    Seperation of church and state is fundamental seperate the candidates from their faith and their politics. Then correct decisions based on the letter of the law for the will of the people and the good of our country will be made.

    Do we not have any type of crisis facing us that should be swept aside with concerns on where someone goes to practice their faith. Oh I forgot, $600 tax credit makes the world allright again...

    January 23, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  11. Bryce

    To imply that any politician is honest (including Mr. Obama) is naive pure and simple.

    I don't care what lies are flung where because they are all lies! From Clinton or Obama or Edwards. That’s what politicians do. Those of us who have been 18 for longer than 10 years (read: pre-bush) know that none of this matters.

    The only real question is "Can this person do the job?"

    The fact is Obama can't do the job. Edwards maybe... It will take someone who can stand up to all the politicians in Washington AND all the politicians elsewhere in the world that want to see the USA fail! In other words it will take a slimy dishonest manipulator to get it done! That's REAL politics!

    Hillary is obviously the best choice for the nomination precisely for all the reasons why Obama "Fans" Hate her.

    Most of the people posting here are young. I can tell.

    January 23, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  12. Tim

    If Obama loses the nominee, I would rather see a Clinton/Edwards run for President/Vice President. Obama has messed up his chance even for VP. The truth has come to light.

    January 23, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  13. A voter

    You don't what you're talking about, Mary. Obama is a christian. He has been with the same church for 20 years. Why would he hide his religion for 20 years, if he was a muslim! You people are soap opera nut balls, serisously. "

    Any lie that is thrown out there by the media, and the opposition, you easily accept as the truth. it's election time people. the public is displaying such a lack of critical thinking that it scares me.

    Anyway, vote for somone with charecter enough to run an honest campaign.

    Vote for Obama in 2008!

    January 23, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  14. Tom J

    Jimmy said: "Would he bet that if I attacked Michelle he would not stand up?"
    I guess he's as confused as the rest of us on just which Clinton is running for the presidency.

    January 23, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  15. Nicky Fera

    Oh please.................

    January 23, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  16. worried

    I agree with Colonel Ray. I do not trust a person who does not recognize the bible and the national anthem. This man is a wolf in sheep clothing.
    Anyone who believe what Farrakan says is not on the american side or the flag for what it stands for.
    I for one will not vote for Obama and believe he is such a liar. So far he has not said what kind of change he wants. I am sure the change will not be for America.
    Just be careful American what you wish for because you may be in a war right here on our own soil.
    This would be the perfect way to corrupt American and all it stands for by having this man as president.
    I hope we are not gullible to this man and if he sold drugs what makes you think he would not sell this country down the drain.

    January 23, 2008 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  17. George T

    Being muslim, or not isn't the issue. It's whether Obama can lead the country without Sharpton meddling in everytime someone disagrees with Obama. Sharpton is only hurting Obama by all his race talk. Sharpton is a divider and Obama needs to speak out against Sharpton's bigotry–and that would impress and win votes. Especially mine.

    The media is also fueling this issue and needs to focus on the real issues like the economy and how Bush has us in the situation we are in.

    We need change .

    January 23, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  18. hazelgrace

    I'm almost laughing (almost)... it's simply absurd how ignorant many people in this country are. We're America – aren't we supposed to do better then this? The fact that people believe this type of thing reminds me of the old Red State letter that circulated a while back.... so sad.

    January 23, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  19. Nicosia, Petersburg,Va

    To the individuals speaking about Obama putting his hand on his heart during the Pledge of Alligance, the picture was taking after the Alligance was finished. Secondly G.W Bush 1&2 and the Clinton(s) said the pledge of alligance with hand over heart and they all sold the US out to the highest bidder what does that say? He doesn't wear a flag pin so what? I don't either. My significant other who is a soldier doesn't wear one unless it is on his uniform. So what are we unpatriotic? Educate yourself and make educated decisions not based off of rumors or someone's religious beliefs ie Bush 2 tauting his Christian beliefs in both elections and getting in office literally becoming the devil incarnate.

    January 23, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  20. Mike Birmingham, AL

    zhuguangping January 22, 2008 7:05 pm ET

    Can he explain his middle name?

    You mean that he coincidentally has the same name of a deposed leader?

    Can you explain yours, zhuguangping?

    January 23, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  21. Susan in Texas

    The Clintons will do and say anything to get elected. Once again I ask: Were Bill Clinton's pardons for sale? Why isn't anyone asking that question?

    January 23, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  22. John, NC

    "Johnny Canuck"

    Your point about the western (European) democracies not being concerned as much about religion is TRUE, and well-taken.

    However, if a candidate raises the issue of their religion, it should be fair game to PERUSE it. Obama HAS brought it up in the past, and did comment about "Jesus Christ," etc. during the last debate.

    Given our (America's) religious history (the Pilgrims fleeing religious persecution in old Europe, etc.) and our founding Constitution acknowledging a deity (albeit unspecified which) Creator, it would be naive of any Candidate running for President to ignore religion altogether.

    I am not saying they should preach to us (God forbid), but it should be OK for them to be FORTHRIGHT about any religious issues/beliefs that MAY CONFLICT with their performance of their duty as President of these United States of America, given the FERVENT NATURE of deeply-held religious beliefs.

    It is well-known that Jehovah's Witnesses, for instance, have serious issues with pledging allegiance to any nation's flag. Now, while they are free to practice their religion, any one who clearly cannot SALUTE or PLEDGE ALLEGIANCE to the American Flag WILL NOT GET MAJORITY OF AMERICANS' VOTES.


    Sen. OBAMA: Please Come Clean.

    January 23, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  23. Andrea, SC

    Almost two months ago I warned Sen. Obama how dangerous the Clintons are. Both Hillary and Bill will destroy their competitor's image through false innuendos, deceptions and lies. Please do not underestimate the carnage the Clintons can unleash. Through political connections and skillful maneuvering, they are able to erase their scandals from the past and fabricate an elaborate attack on Obama. Kudos to the Clintons– give credit where credit is due.

    Obama brings honesty, integrity and hope to all Americans. But in the end, the Clintons can twist this election into black vs. white. They will be elected (and please note that I said "they") and this country will be more divided than ever at a time where our national security and economy is most fragile and vulnerable. This is very sad!

    January 23, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  24. Kip L

    if hillary wins the nomination for president...i guess i will have to vote "present" and vote for no one...

    January 23, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  25. barry

    I often hear round table discussions about how the clintons are in danger of alienating black voters with their negative campaign tactics. What everyone is failing to realize is that Obama is garnering approximately 40 percent of the white vote nationwide; they too will be disenfranchised and not motivated when november comes if the clintons strong arm their way to the nominatioin. I am a white person who normally votes with the democrats. I will not vote for the clintons if they win the nomination; notice i said they. There are tens of millions of democratic voters like me in this country, who feel very strongly in this manner. The democrats are about to score the winning touchdown…for the other team.

    January 23, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
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