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. Shelli

    Are all the critics happy now??? Thank you for setting everyone straight. OBAMA 08!!!

    January 22, 2008 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  2. Jack Berkeley, CA

    Oh yeah sure let's all just mindlessly play pile on Hillary shall we...

    This kind of stuff has been going on for as many elections as we can remember and lately one was traced back to some young kid who had 527 status and was making 100s of automated calls and emails concerning Romney's faith as well 🙁 Probably the same kid and the same fanatical organiztion who has a problem with anyone they perceive as being different than they are – which is virtually everyone! There are an over abundance of whacked out wierdos out there, and some way over the top religious groups.

    But don't listen to reason, just jump right in and start flaming away – I'll get the hot dogs and mustard. This is America, is it not and everyone is entitled to vent their hatred at will. Listened to a former Civil Rights activist in SC who was pointing out that if Obama gets the Dem nod that he needs to toughen up because the Republicans will throw everything including the kitchen sink at him. McCain already remembers what happened to him in SC 2000 GOP primaries and the tactics Rove used. But carry on... don't stop to think for a change... the hillaryhaters and the Obama fans will be out in full force... the rest of us should just move on to the next topic and leave them to drone on endlessly to themselves – for the most part they do anyway... Meanwhile we're going to go over to check out what the Repubs are up to.

    January 22, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  3. Mrs. Dawe, Malvern, PA

    Dear readers,

    I hope everyone does not believe the comments posted here. Research the questions you have, use reliable sources, and be guided by common sense.

    I think Obama is all vetted by now to stand any heat!

    January 22, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  4. Ed,Ellenville,New York

    Not only is it insulting to americans that he appears on a TV network owned by Pat Robertson,who praised the 9/11 attack,but he called the allegations of being muslim "scourilous" as though it was such a big deal. I thought he was above the bigotry. He's only above racial bigotry,not religious bigotry? And isn't CBN the height of bigotry in itself? Barack is heading down the road to obscurity. He never should have started attacking Hillary six months ago. Just because she let it go for a while doesn't mean it's acceptable form for our future president. Most democrats are going to have a hard time voting for him. I guess that was their plan from the beginning. To elect a republican and fan the flames of racism.

    January 22, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  5. David

    I think Mr. Obama is hiding a lot of his life behind closed doors and wether it is good or bad it will come out so in the end run this guy should either confess to al his mis givings or quit the race i prefer the ladder because he keeps promising change well that's all good exceppt I am one of the poor people who struggles to get by daily and every time the goverment make a change all it does is put me and my family further in debt. so I say quit making changes that keeps costing the poor and fix the problems we have in this country now and the only candidate that has shown that SHE can and has done that for the little guy is H CLINTON ALL THE WAY

    January 22, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  6. Obama Supporter

    I think we need a new person–from a different family other than the BUSHS and CLINTIONS–in the White House. What has this country come to?

    January 22, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  7. mike

    Gee I wonder who is responsible for puttin those out on you... She is shrewd and untruthful, are we going to stand back and have 4 more years of george bush,only a different party. The answer is wake up America... I will not support a Clinton dyabsty... I am for amendment 22.

    January 22, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  8. S Ahmed, Cairo,

    I'm surprised that there are many it seems who care about the faith of the candidate when it really makes no difference. The US president will take decisions that are against basic tenets of any faith so why the worry?

    January 22, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  9. Kevin

    That email, which my wife has received repeatedly, is an ignorant smear for an uninformed electorate. Regrettably, that's the very reason that it and those like it are effective. The voting public has largely abandoned its civic responsibility to seek reliable information on political candidates, and as a result we end up with small men like George W. Bush. I'm not an Obama supporter, but I'm glad to see him dismantle this nonsense directly. It's the only appropriate response.

    January 22, 2008 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  10. Darren,Co

    Who cares what his religion is?

    As long as he does a good job, that should be all that matters.

    This has gone a long way to re-affirm my thoughts about the pointlessness of religion, and the problems it creates where none existed before.

    January 22, 2008 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  11. Elaine Albertson

    Those of us in Hawai'i who are familiar with Barack's background cannot believe that the press has not pounced on the "Muslim" smear...not that being Muslim is bad, but that trying to lie about Obama's background is getting even this far. He grew up in Hawai'i, and attended Punahou School...a private Christian academy. He has been part of the United Church of Christ for a long time, and the church is proud of him and his record as a leader, and as a man. UCC is seen by some radical right-wing zealots as a "left-wing" liberal church...but only because we as a faith do not judge others, are tolerant of divergent views, and respect the right of anyone to believe as they wish. I'm getting pretty fed up with the hatchet job attempts, and whatever respect I once had for HIllary is fast waning.

    January 22, 2008 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  12. Julie-Albuquerque

    I don't care if Obama is a Muslim, I don't care what his religious beliefs are, but I'd like to know why he doesn't put his hand to his heart during the National Athem or why he thinks it's beneath him to wear the American flag pin. Obama, you don't need to do these things to run for President, but it's just a simple sign of respect for all the men and women who have fought and died supporting the freedom the flag and the National Athem represent. I would expect more from a man who wants to lead this country as its' President. Issues or not, these simple gestures say more to me about your intentions than the thousand words you churn out during your political speeches.

    January 22, 2008 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  13. Richard Andre, Belmont,Ma

    I am not an Obama supporter; in fact I am a register republican. It is interested that NBC went to court to prevent Kucinich appearing on the debate in Nevada. One of the reason for this censorship is that they are afraid that Kucinich will talk about what happen in New Hampshire. The polls were actually correct; indeed there was a fraud benefiting the so-called surprised winner. Eventually the American people will know the truth. And when that happens the propensity will clearly go toward the leader with the sound judgment not the divider. Kucinich really believe that there was a fraud. He supports this belief with hard cash, by paying for the recounts that is now in order. Kucinich believes that Barrack Obama has won the New Hampshire primary; And Hillary Clinton came in second, if the machines were left breached. Technicians who support the Diebold machine were allowed to break the security seal to change the memory card on the very diebold scanning machine during the Election Day under the pretense that the diebold machine broke down. There seems to be evidence that the surprise winner got a bump of +4.5% and the second candidate’s votes count were subtracting by 2.5%

    January 22, 2008 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  14. angela grogan

    I would just like to thank the person or persons responsible for clearing up this rumor. I received this email last week and have to tell you that I was really taken back by it. I am a registered Republican and have been very impressed with Senator Obama and what his campaign stands for. I had went as far as to say that he would probably get my vote. I am feeling much better after reading this clarification.

    January 22, 2008 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  15. Brian, Cleveland, Ohio

    You know they made a big deal about Kennedy being a Catholic and look how good his presidency turned out to be.........no wait, scratch that.

    January 22, 2008 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  16. Ron

    So what if he's muslim....am i missing something?
    I know very little about politics but when did religion become a determining factor in whether someone will make a good leader...

    January 22, 2008 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  17. chevyk

    i recieved one of these emails and i am least to say i am So mad that the "C's" would do such i mean we all know who is behind them. Obama is a true leader.

    January 22, 2008 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  18. GaryO Virginia Beach

    Well, it looks like Obama is insinuating again that the Clintons are behind anonymous emails.

    The Clintons have been the victims of vicious and false internet rumors for years. And yet the Clintons are not insinuating that Obama authorized them.

    Once again, Obama is looking fo pity points. His whining has become the hallmark of his campaign.

    Don't you think it would be better if just addressed the issues?

    January 22, 2008 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  19. Jim P. - Chicago

    Why take a chance given the current Islamic threat? These Islamic fundamentalists are very patient. As they have said, "we will get the infidels from the inside out," wake up America. I myself doubt he's a practicing muslim; however, I would almost guarantee that he is sympathetic to their cause to some degree. And once in power, only god or should I say allah knows what might come.

    January 22, 2008 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  20. charlotte

    He would make a great modern MLK. His speeches all have a ministers tone. He says things that make you want to say amen, praise the Lord. Follow me and I will show you the promise land. Great speeches, great speaker. Just add a few spiritual songs and you got a sermon.

    January 22, 2008 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  21. John Rellick

    Those who spread lies about a candidate's religion respect neither Christianity, nor the Muslim faith. Nor do do they respect their country and its democratic system.

    January 22, 2008 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  22. zhuguangping

    Can he explain his middle name?

    January 22, 2008 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  23. Tom Z, Florida

    Obviously this is part of the Clinton "dirty tricks" campaign.

    January 22, 2008 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  24. Sitara

    Even if Obama were a Muslim, so what?

    January 22, 2008 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  25. David

    What is really offensive is not the false accusation against Obama, but the implication that a muslim here in the US is to be seen as some sort of enemy or someone to fear. That just goes to show how much fear and hatred the Republican warmongers have built up over the last six years.

    More to the point is how on earth Obama can rule out universal health care which would benefit so many in the black communities who have looked to him for leadership. I am at a loss too when he puts forward a job creation strategy that involves increasing the military by 100,000. I would have expected that many young black people would prefer to have the opportunity to go to college rather than fight to preserve the profits of oil companmies.

    January 22, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
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