June 27, 2008

Why Should Barack Obama’s Religion Matter?

Posted in US elections tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 1:41 am by Mazin

By Ramzy Baroud

Whether Barack Obama is or, at one point, was a Muslim should be a trivial matter in any society governed by secular, democratic dictates that apply to all, on equal footage, regardless of race, gender or religion. But in a society that is taking a turn toward the right, the matter is anything but inconsequential.

According to estimates, there are anywhere between 1.2 billion to 1.8 billion Muslims worldwide, 8 million of whom are Americans. But Muslims feel threatened, and for good reason. After the tragic events of September 11, 2001, Muslim communities have been shamelessly branded as the “enemy” to the point that in mainstream media today, the term “patriot” is juxtaposed with “Muslim” as if the two terms are irreconcilable.

The events of 9/11 have indeed politicized faith like no other past event — in a country where faith is already a powerful player in political affairs. Chris Hedges writes: “Dominionism, born out of a theology known as Christian reconstructionism, seeks to politicize faith. It has, like all fascist movements, a belief in magic along with leadership adoration and a strident call for moral and physical supremacy of a master race, in this case American Christians.”

Under these unfortunate circumstances, Obama’s faith matters greatly. The presumptive presidential candidate of the Democratic Party is vilified on the question of his faith, often accused of being a “closet Muslim” — thus, supposedly, bearing wicked plans to destroy this country from “within.” His detractors accentuate the claim, knowing fully that they have an audience, large enough to cause the energetic candidate some trouble along the way.

“Summarized, available evidence suggests Obama was born a Muslim to a nonpracticing Muslim father and for some years had a reasonably Muslim upbringing under the auspices of his Indonesian stepfather. At some point, he converted to Christianity,” concludes rightwing columnist Daniel Pipes, known for his ardent anti-Muslim views.

Such commentators seem entirely oblivious to the fact that by digging up the “dirt” of Obama’s past, as a third grader in Indonesia, to “prove” that at one point in his life he was raised a Muslim — thus should be disowned as a candidate of “change” in America — they compromise on the very nature of tolerance that America should be standing for.

They, although indirectly, envision their alternative view of the future of America, as one ruled by a religious fundamentalist intolerant group that would fight anyone who fails to adhere to their skewed ideology and preferred physical appearance. Also, considering how race and vote were intrinsically linked in individual party contests, one can conclude that being black, and a Muslim, are the antithesis of what these narrow-minded bunch stand for.

Obama, of course, is violating the very principles that he tirelessly preaches, by responding to “accusations” of his Muslim heritage as if he was warding off an incurable disease. Such claims are being deemed “smears” and “lies,” and according to a debate on MSNBC, Obama declared that he had been “victimized” by such claims. He has been so tireless and fervent in disproving these “smears” that his very own religious intolerance and racism has been shamelessly disregarded.

“I’ve been to the same church — the same Christian church — for almost 20 years,” he told a cheering audience last January. “I was sworn in with my hand on the family Bible.” One of the many pieces of literature distributed by his campaign in past months featured photos of Obama praying with the words “COMMITTED CHRISTIAN” in large letters across the middle.

It says Obama will be a president “guided by his Christian faith” and includes a quote from him saying, “I believe in the power of prayer,” according to an Associated Press report.

Speaking in a Florida synagogue, Obama tried to assure his Jewish audience that his name “Barack” has the same Semitic roots as the Hebrew name “Baruch.” His supporters contend that the origins of the name are African, not Arabic. Even the clearly Arabic roots of Obama’s name are now explained based on “African” and — as of late — “Semitic” roots. Obama was responding to a member of the audience who exclaimed that he would be more comfortable voting for someone named Barry, not Barack. Instead of lashing out at the man’s bigotry, Obama once again, “fought off rumors” this time reinterpreting his own name.

As for being a Muslim, Obama has spent much time, energy and resources fending off the accusations, even starting FighttheSmears.com to prove — among other things — that he is not a Muslim.

Then on June 16, two Muslim women who attended an Obama event in Detroit were told they couldn’t stand behind the candidate. One was told her head covering was an issue, and another was told that for political reasons they didn’t want Muslims appearing with him on TV, reported National Public Radio.

Of course, this is anything but an identity crisis for the savvy Harvard-educated politician of “change.” Obama must have comprehended, and early on, the implicit limits of tolerance in his country, and has decided to concede to the harbingers of racism and bigotry. Obama should have unapologetically responded to the speculation on his religion in a respectful manner, for example like this:

I would have been honored to be affiliated with the religion of Islam, one that is adhered to by one-fourth of humanity, and is the religion of my ancestors and millions of Americans.

But I am equally honored to be a member of a church, to be a Christian, a religion — like all great religions — that has taught me tolerance, peace and equality, principles that I will continue to cherish as long as I live.



  1. josephudo said,

    Actually, real Christians may fear him because for about 1000 years, the muslims have been trying to convert every one to their faith.

    As far as obama is concerned, since he accepts homosexuality and aborition (especially late term), he doesn’t worship the real God. And he is not a real Christian. Those kind of “changes” in the world/society will be delt with by God in His justice. Put straight, obama is one of the largest heritics this country has ever seen so far, in the political areana.


  2. Mazin said,

    Muslims trying to convert christians for 1000 years??????

    Here are some quotes that are enough to refute this myth:

    1. M. K. GANDHI: “…I became more than ever convinced that it was not the sword that won a place for Islam in those days in the scheme of life. It was the rigid simplicity, the utter self-effacement of the prophet, the scrupulous regard for his pledges, his intense devotion to his friends and followers, his intrepidity, his fearlessness, his absolute trust in God and his own mission. These, and not the sword carried everything before them and surmounted every trouble.” YOUNG INDIA, 1924

    2. EDWARD GIBBON: “The greatest success of Mohammed’s life was effected by sheer moral force without the stroke of a sword.” HISTORY OF THE SARACEN EMPIRE, London, 1870

    3. A. S. TRITTON: “The picture of the Muslim soldier advancing with a sword in one hand and the Qur’an in the other is quite false.” ISLAM, London, 1951, p. 21

    4. DE LACY O’LEARY: “History makes it clear however, that the legend of fanatical Muslim, sweeping through the world and forcing Islam at the point of sword upon conquered races is one of the most fantastically absurd myths that historians have ever repeated.” ISLAM AT CROSSROADS, London, 1923, p. 8

    5. K. S. RAMAKRISHNA RAO: “My problem to write this monograph is easier because we are not generally fed now on that (distorted) kind of history and much time need not be spent on pointing out our misrepresentations of Islam. The theory of Islam and sword, for instance, is not heard now in any quarter worth the name. The principle of Islam, there is no compulsion in religion, is well known.” MOHAMMED THE PROPHET OF ISLAM, Riyadh, 1989, p. 4

    6. JAMES A. MICHENER: “No other religion in history spread so rapidly as Islam…The West has widely believed that this surge of religion was made possible by the sword. But no modern scholar accepts that idea, and the Qur’an is explicit in support of the freedom of conscience.” ISLAM – THE MISUNDERSTOOD RELIGION, READERS’ DIGEST (American Edition) May 1955

    7. LAWRENCE E. BROWNE: “Incidentally these well-established facts dispose of the idea so widely fostered in Christian writings that the Muslims, wherever they went, forced people to accept Islam at the point of the sword.” THE PROSPECTS OF ISLAM, London, 1944.

    8. A Christian missionary, Sir Thomas W. Arnold says:

    “…of any organized attempt to force the acceptance of Islam on the non-Muslim population, or of any systematic persecution intended to stamp out the Christian religion, we hear nothing. Had the caliphs chosen to adopt either course of action, they might have swept away Christianity as easily as Ferdinand and Isabella drove Islam out of Spain, or Louis XIV made Protestantism penal in France, or the Jews were kept out of England for 350 years. The Eastern Churches in Asia were entirely cut off from communion with the rest of Christendom throughout which no one would have been found to lift a finger on their behalf, as heretical communions. So that the very survival of these Churches to the present day is a strong proof of the generally tolerant attitude of Mohammedan [sic] governments towards them”

    The Preaching of Islam, A History of the Propagation of the Muslim Faith, Sir Thomas W. Arnold, Westminster A. Constable & Co., London, 1896, p. 80.

    9 .”Against unbelievers he (Muhammad) enjoined his followers to undertake a holy warefare, but only when attacked. The earlier Moslem[sic] leaders did not try to impose their faith upon other nations”

    The History of Christianity in the Light of Modern Knowledge, A Collective Work, Harcourt Brace and co., p. 520

    10. Also read the article : https://mazinx.wordpress.com/2008/04/29/muhammad’s-sword/ posted on my blog


  3. josephudo said,

    These are garbage like all half truths


  4. Mazin said,

    Your outburst is understandable,

    The myth of Muslims going around converting others for 1000 years is used as propaganda by Islam-haters who subscribe to the Nazi belief that if a lie is spoken loud enough and spoken repeatedly, it will be believed. Anyway there is no blame on you as you fell trap to their lies
    and believed in them uncritically.

    Anyway here is a refreshing quote from Uri Avnery , a veteran Israeli peace activist, journalist , former member of the Knesset and leader of Gush Shalom .

    “Every honest Jew who knows the history of his people cannot but feel a deep sense of gratitude to Islam, which has protected the Jews for fifty generations, while the Christian world persecuted the Jews and tried many times ‘by the sword’ to get them to abandon their faith.

    The story about ‘spreading the faith by the sword’ is an evil legend, one of the myths that grew up in Europe during the great wars against the Muslims – the reconquista of Spain by the Christians, the Crusades and the repulsion of the Turks, who almost conquered Vienna.”



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