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. get truth guy

    I raely don't care he is a Muslim or not, what I care is does he tell us the truth, he should not be shame as a Muslim and try to hide this, it will be more be shame about is he lied to us.

    January 22, 2008 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  2. James springfield mo

    If obama can't take on hillary and bill clinton how is he going to handle the republican party when they come at him, and the world as well as congress no free ride there.

    January 22, 2008 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  3. Citizen3591

    "Obama did not hypothesize who was behind the e-mails"

    That is a sign of his dignity, because it's well known that Hillary Clinton fired two of her campaign staff members, Judy Rose and Linda Olson, following her "discovery" that the two staffers were personally responsible for circulating the libelous emails. This was detailed in an AP news report that appeared on CNN.com, in this column, the Political Ticker, on December 10, 2007. The article has been removed from CNN.com but it can easily be found on the AP website, or other news sites.

    The fact that her staff instigated the smear campaign is also a sign of Hillary Clinton's leadership: a kind interpretation is that she didn't provide the moral guidance to let her staff know that, while aggressive negative publicity is ok, defamatory lies are not. A cynical interpretation is that she knew about it and gave her permission, implicitly or explicitly. Shades of Dick Cheney...

    Barack Obama has the constructive mindset and the honorable character that is so badly needed in the White House following the skulduggery of Bush and Cheney. Obama will rise above the lies, and do much more than Clinton to repair America's image around the world.

    January 22, 2008 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  4. Chris,MI

    Hilary is clearly a devious, calculating, insincere and shady lady. I use to think Bill was cool but he has def lost alot of cool points from me. I mean people, don't you find this a bit disturbing on the lengths these Clinton's are going for inorder to be back in the whitehouse? America voted Bush a 2nd time..C'mon a 2nd time? The Clintons dishonest political tactics has shown that voting for her would be like voting Bush back in the white house.

    January 22, 2008 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  5. Linda

    I agree with Sitara–even if he were a Muslim–who should care. When Joe Lieberman was running as V.P. he didn't get this much discussion over being a Jew. There are many faiths–let's embrace them all.

    January 22, 2008 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  6. Lisa

    Did Obama use a Bible when he was sworn in as a Senator? I've heard rumors that he did not.......Maybe this is where the internet rumors began...?

    January 22, 2008 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  7. David, Encinitas, CA

    His commitment to JC is irrelevant. It's his commitment to the US that's important. Frankly, I'm tired of hearing about candidate's religious beliefs. I would rather the focus be on the issues facing the nation.

    January 22, 2008 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  8. Zack

    if hillary gets the nomination,
    im joining and voting for the green party this time

    January 22, 2008 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  9. Jon, Charlotte NC

    i would not be surprised in the slightest if the Clinton campaign was behind this

    and i agree with Sitara, who cares if he's Muslim

    January 22, 2008 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  10. Jane Schiff

    Who writes the headlines for your articles? Cheap shot.

    January 22, 2008 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  11. Ebenezer

    Get serious. Sen. Obama has a point here: people like you under-estimate the intelligence of the American people. Keep spreading the lies, the hate, and the conspiracy theories. It may swing an election or two, but it won't pay off in the long run. As Dr. King said, "The arc of history is long, but it bends towards justice." You're on the wrong side of history, my friend.

    January 22, 2008 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  12. David Anthoney

    Rumor is good enough for me not to vote for this guy. Let's dig up his whole past, that might make me happy.

    January 22, 2008 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  13. Chris from Houston

    CNN reported that the researched evidence regarding Clinton's comments were of course unfounded and that Obama's remarks were indeed true. I believe it was another attempt of a Clinton "spinning" public opinion. It reminded me of the Famous "sexual relations" definition debate. The Clintons are masterful at verbatum deceit of the American people. We need a new type of politics and I now see that Obama is that leader.

    January 22, 2008 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  14. cicilia

    Who didn't hear Obama say he is a proud christian yesterday in the debate, or it is worth stating the obvious?

    January 22, 2008 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  15. Patriot

    I thought this country was founded on Freedom of Religion. Why does that matter? Even if he is Muslim maybe he would be able to understand the Middle East far greater than any of our past or current President(s). Plus Obama doesn't push his religion on us like the Huckster does.

    January 22, 2008 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  16. Levi


    Its because america won't stand for a non-christian in office. Mormon, was pushing it even.

    Every member of congress and this administration claim to be christian. If you think about it, there is no way not one person is an athiest or of another religion. Yet they all claim to be because they know if they don't, they won't have a career in politics.

    Its sad really.

    January 22, 2008 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  17. Jaduntr

    Seems we went through this not 1 month ago when Mitt Romney had to defend his LDS faith...and all of this goes on in a country where church and state are seperate? I really don't care what Obama is...he can believe that the universe is under a rock...as long as he can run the country best...(bytheway, I am a republican)

    January 22, 2008 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  18. Jackson

    I know he is not a Muslim ... but I am not voting for him anyway ... John Edwards for a New America!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 22, 2008 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  19. Tom

    This story implies that being a Muslim is something bad
    I believe prejudice against Muslims is alive in united states the country of freedom and liberty which make me feel sad. I hope that people are more understanding and respectful .

    January 22, 2008 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  20. Tom Masters

    This has nothing to do with a campaign to be President.

    It's simply a non-issue.

    Quite funny though that we know about his religion, his church, his minister etc., when we don't know anything about John Edwards or Billary Clinton's.

    ...and kin'a dumb.

    January 22, 2008 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  21. ees

    Why can't Mr. Obama be honest to admit the truth about his faith before he became a christian 15 years ago? 15 years ago was reported previously. Then recently he said he became a christian 20 years ago. If he was a practicing Muslim 15-20 years ago why not just say so and end the story? What is he hiding?
    A candidate for the presidency of the U.S. should be honest and trustworthy about his/her faith to the American people.

    January 22, 2008 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  22. redwoods

    Can CNN be any more biased in Mr. Obama's favor?.....why not report fairly for a change and give the other candidates a chance ?

    January 22, 2008 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  23. Kat

    When it comes to politics, unfortunatly, they will use whatever they can and spread any stupid rumor that they can come up with in the hopes of dragging the other down. Ridiculous, abolutely ridiculous. I wouldn't be suprised if it was Bill Clinton doing this. He's been attacking Obama more than Hillary, that's because she can't handle the competition without her hubby. Pathetic.

    January 22, 2008 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  24. fernando

    I think any intelligent person knows by now that he is not a muslim.
    But I have to say that the media is not helping this because they never write his full name as Barack Hussein Obama.
    It seems like the media is going out of their way to make sure they never write his full name in any of the articles and this may look like they are trying to hide something by doing this.
    If he been a muslim or a christian is not an issue then his full name Barack Hussein Obama should not be an issue also.
    I think it is the media fault that allow rumors like this to ignite.

    January 22, 2008 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  25. Kaitlin

    I agree with Sitara.

    Religion and politics should stay a part. Who cares what religion the candidates are? Our country does not have a specific religion. There is no law saying the president of the United States has to be of a certain religion, or a have any religious beliefs at all.

    People make a big deal over things that don't really matter. We need to focus on the important issues, such as the war and the economy.

    January 22, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
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