27 Juli 2008

Barack Obama: The Truth About His Religion

Since declaring his candidacy for president, misconceptions about his religion are one point he and his campaign have continually fought to correct. From assertions that he's a Muslim to rumors that he received training in Islam while he lived in Indonesia as a child, these rumors have been used to spark fear about him. And despite Obama's denials, rumors and e-mails about his Muslim and Islamic ties continue to circulate on the Internet. Here are the facts:

Obama's grandfather was a Muslim, but his father was an atheist who did occasionally attend services at a mosque in Indonesia and his mother was agnostic, not practicing any particular religion. Where does that leave Obama? He is a Christian, having attended the same Christian church (Trinity United Church of Christ) for nearly 20 years. And about that rumor that he attended a madrassa as a child in Indonesia? He attended only Catholic and public schools.

While campaigning in the Bible Belt states, Obama stressed that when he was sworn into office, he placed his hand on the family bible, and when he's in the United States Senate, he pledges allegiance to the flag of the United States of America.

But Obama does not turn his back on the places he lived in his youth. In campaign appearances, he regularly mentions his time living and attending school in Indonesia and the fact that his paternal grandfather, a Kenyan farmer, was a Muslim. He uses these facts as part of his position that he is prepared to handle foreign policy and that he would bring a new face to parts of the world where the United States is not popular. In fact, in Clarion, Iowa, Obama stated, "A lot of my knowledge about foreign affairs is not what I just studied in school.

It's actually having the knowledge of how ordinary people in these countries live." Obama has said that he will fight harder against other mischaracterizations about his positions that are being perpetrated by other candidates. But how are the rumors about his religion affecting him? According to David Axelrod, a top Obama strategist, "He genuinely believes...that people want to have a president that the world looks at and says, 'I believe this guy has an understanding of us and how we fit together on the planet.' "


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