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. Steve, ATL

    Gotta love Bill and Hill. Ends justifies the means.

    January 22, 2008 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  2. ja

    Obama is obviously not trying to push his faith on anyone, just clear up a misrepresentation. I would do the same thing. It's not necessarily good or bad that he's Christian, but everyone deserves to have their beliefs represented accurately.

    January 22, 2008 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  3. Ryuken

    If he was a muslim growing up? Fine, just be honest about it. No one is going to judge him b/c his parents were of the muslim belief, thats fine, just be honest about it.

    I've been hearing these allegations since he was sworn in (supposedly not on the bible). The point is by talking about it he is only giving the gossip and rumors merit.

    I have seriously considered voting for Obama a lot here lately, but after doing my own homework on some things he said Pres. Clinton was not truthful about I have found that Sen. Obama was not completely honest either. Hillary gets my vote.

    January 22, 2008 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  4. Dave. San Diego, CA


    Two things. First Obama is having to defend himself against false rumors about his faith that Huckabee is not. Second, everyone knows that Huckabee wants to amend the Constitution to establish a "National Religion", Obama does not.

    Obama has left his religious beliefs as well as his race out of the political spectrum until FALSE information was put out there.

    I have to agree with Sitara on this one. Even if he were a Muslim so what? But that is OUR opinion. Most (80%+) Americans are so-called "Christians" who fail to realize that both religion's roots are Abrahamic.

    January 22, 2008 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  5. yvette

    i relly dont think that religion counts in this democratic debate.
    if he is muslim let hm be.

    January 22, 2008 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  6. MCD, San Francisco, CA

    Somebody sent me one of the e-mails and it was SO OVER THE TOP that I suspected immediately it was a bunch of garbage! I researched it and sent a debunking link right back to the person. It just amazes me that when people want to believe something they instantly become the most incredulous people you ever met!

    January 22, 2008 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  7. Alice

    I wish we could all just get along

    I am a lifelong Democrat, and I just wish the two front-runners would quit bickering and concentrate on what is REALLY important, and that is to make sure we don't have another four years of disaster ahead of us – which will be ensured if a Republican gets elected again!

    Think of it – a Clinton/Obama or Obama/Clinton ticket would be UNBEATABLE! AND make history EITHER way! Most importantly, it will ensure that we DON'T get another four years of voodoo "trickle-down" economics, a continuosly bloating deficit (which will be made worse by the idiot incumbent's plan – he wants to borrow another 150-200 billion dollars to save us from the mess he got us into! – which will make things only worse), unbelievable arrogance, erosion of basic rights, useless bloodshed, and religious kookiness!

    I am a Hillary supporter and always will be, but if necessary, I'll be an Obama supporter since I believe NOTHING could be worse than the mess we are currently in, thanks to that incumbent idiot, his ridiculous religious kook party, and his equally idiot brother the former Governor of Florida who probably ENSURED that my vote (along with many others) wasn't counted a few years ago

    GET ALONG, Clinton and Obama

    If you can't manage to do that, you may win a few battles, but you'll BOTH lose the war!

    Please! Look ahead – who will you choose as a running mate when the time comes? Edwards??????

    January 22, 2008 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  8. Zaynab

    What's wrong with being a Muslim?

    January 22, 2008 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  9. Linoq

    Of course, it is again & again & again Clinton's dirty game..... Vote for her and we will have more 4 or 8 years of the same game, but with the American people....

    America needs Obama, and the world needs a strong America!

    Obama for President
    Hillary for Chief of Staff
    Edwards for Attorney General

    January 22, 2008 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  10. J

    What is up with him constantly telling Edwards the white guy, it sounds racist.

    January 22, 2008 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  11. Young Liberal

    This email was horrible. Much like the teachers union in Nevada I have a feeling Hillary Rodham Clinton and her staff had something to do with this.

    January 22, 2008 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  12. Jen

    There are false statements flying around about most of the candidates. I think the Clinton Staffers have more to do then sit around and make up some email that has been going around for some time. I saw it long before any primary/caucus. There is just too much unknown about Mr. Obama.

    January 22, 2008 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  13. oy

    I may be unclear but wasn't it the case that not that long ago a Clinton staffer lost their job for forwarding a similar email just before the Iowa debates. It is odd how coincidence works...If I'm not mistaken the story broke on CNN.

    January 22, 2008 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  14. Fred

    Just what the muslims want us to think. He's a christian and he's good for AMERICA. Vote Republican!

    January 22, 2008 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  15. Jack Walsh

    He had a muslim father. That must mean he is part of a joint commie-taliban-satan plot to destroy the presidency! Run to your churches and pray that saint Huckabee and Romney will save us!

    Whoever is behind that email shouldn't have watched 'The Manchurian Candidate'

    January 22, 2008 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  16. Henrietta

    I believe Obama is a Christian.He looks more genuine than the other 2.
    Henrietta, Ohio.

    January 22, 2008 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  17. Tommy C

    Obama has been seen not respecting our pledge or our flag. He placed his hand on the Koran rather than the bible. I respect all beliefs but this country places it's hand on the bible in our courts we place our hands over our hearts during the pledge. I want the best person who believes in our countries beliefs to lead us. Obama may be a good man or he may just be a great talker. We need to decide this.

    January 22, 2008 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  18. Keith

    I like his name and respect his religion. If any America really believed in freedom of speech and religion and has no state religion; then, no one should have a problem unless his record appears devilish.
    Good luck Brother. Your name lets the whole world of people know that champions need not be European, but African, Asian, etc.

    January 22, 2008 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  19. Harrison

    So what? Obama's a Muslim! I don't care if he were Hindi! His policy statement are wrong! They lack insight, depth of thought, and a gross lacking of "just plain 'common sense!'"

    January 22, 2008 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  20. Nate

    Well it seems the dirty tricks have already started and we have not reached the general election or campaign for the general election. We need to catch the people that is doing this and send them to Iraq. However, when we send them to Iraq, we need to emboldened on their forehead a cross so the terrorist will clearly see them for what they are. How dirty can you be to smear someone just because they are Black and want to be President of these United States. Me.

    January 22, 2008 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  21. Amy, Kazoo

    Only in America is it SO important that our president be a Christian. Frankly, I don't care what faith or lack thereof, our president holds. There are PLENTY of corrupt and evil "christians" out there writing their homilies and in politics already. Labeling yourself a committed Christian shouldn't be used as currency. All it is is pandering to the voters. Show us you're a good, honest PERSON. That is what really matters. Stick to the issues and you'll get votes. I understand Obama wanting to clarify that he is not a Muslim, but just leave it at that then. You've said it, now quit playing the victim and move on to more important matters. please.

    January 22, 2008 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  22. kim

    What really happened regarding his refusal to recite the pledge? I know several people who absolutely will not vote for him because of that. If anyone does know the truth to that please fill in the public.


    January 22, 2008 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  23. JULIE

    I think it is a very big deal if he is a Muslim. I don't dislike Muslims in general, but I think it is scary that at a time like this when we are at war over terrorist acts people would think of electing a president who was even rumored to have any ties to our enemies. Of course he wouldn't admit to being a Muslim! He isn't stupid! It could all very well be false, and I sincerely hope it is, but can we really afford to take that chance!? Exercise caution America!!

    January 22, 2008 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  24. Nathaniel

    I agree with Kirsten; look at the double standard here. Huckabee is attacked with claims that he has used his Christianity to garner votes, while nobody speaks out when Obama actually does this. Huckabee is a consistant Christian whenever and wherever he is. He was a Christian in Iowa when it was helpful, but he was also one in New Hampshire when it hurt him. Obama on the other hand just happens to mention his religion now, three weeks into the presidential primary season. I guess it's only a coincidence that right before the South Carolina primary Obama remembers his faith.

    January 22, 2008 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  25. Adam Lawler

    Why is it when Mike Huckabee has a bookshelf in the background on an ad he gets pounded for it, but when Obama has a cross in an ad it is ok? Is there a double standard here or I am simply missing something here?

    January 22, 2008 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
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