A substantial and growing number of Americans say that Barack Obama is a Muslim, while the proportion saying he is a Christian has declined. More than a year and a half into his presidency, many of the public say they do not know what religion Obama follows.
A new national survey by the Pew Research Center finds that close to one-in-five Americans (18%) now say Obama is a Muslim, up from 11% in March 2009.
The Rev. Franklin Graham made his own controversial explanation of why people wrongly believe the president is a Muslim. Graham was asked whether he has any doubts about Obama’s Christian faith. “I think the president’s problem is that he was born a Muslim, his father was a Muslim. The seed of Islam is passed through the father like the seed of Judaism is passed through the mother. He was born a Muslim, his father gave him an Islamic name,” Graham told CNN.
In September 2008, The Democratic presidential candidate appeared on ABC’s “This Week” with George Stephanopoulos, which aired Sunday morning. Obama was addressing the rumors that he is Muslim. He suggested that Republican rival John McCain was behind them, according to ABC News. Obama was reminded that McCain denied spreading the rumors. “You’re absolutely right that John McCain has not talked about my Muslim faith,” Obama said, before being corrected by Stephanopoulos.
Did Obama blurt out the truth, or was this a Freudian slip?
Clearly Obama is the first president of the United States with Muslim roots, or who was born a Muslim.
Obama’s Kenyan birth father, Barack Hussein Obama, Sr. (1936-1982) was a Muslim who named his boy Barack Hussein Obama, Jr. In Islam, if your father is a Muslim, you are a Muslim.
Given the fact that “Hussein” is Obama’s middle name, he was most likely born as a Shia Muslim. Hussein was one of the original Shiites and was killed in 680 CE at the Battle of Karbala.
Obama’s Indonesian stepfather, Lolo Soetoro, was also a Muslim. In fact, as Obama’s half-sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng explained to Jodi Kantor of the New York Times: “My whole family was Muslim, and most of the people I knew were Muslim.” Maybe she misspoke?
During an interview with the New York Times, Obama described the Muslim call to prayer as “one of the prettiest sounds on Earth at sunset.” I, myself, have lived nine years in Saudi Arabia, and can vouch that the call to prayer being a bit mesmerizing, but would not describe it as “”one of the prettiest sounds on Earth,” as many Muslims would.
The Times’ Nicholos Kristof wrote Obama recited, “with a first-class [Arabic] accent,” the opening lines of the Muslim call to prayer.
Certainly, anyone who has a lot of exposure to Muslims, either by living in a Muslim country, or by having Muslim relatives is apt to feel comfortable with the religion as it is a known quantity.
In Sharia law, the consensus view is that if a Muslim gives up his or her religion, the penalty is death. This, however, is not the only interpretation of Sharia law as it pertains to apostasy.
Colin Powell made a memorable interview on NBC’s Meet the Press, prior to the presidential election in 2008, regarding questions about Obama’s religious beliefs.
I’m also troubled by, not what Senator McCain says, but what members of the party say. And it is permitted to be said such things as, “Well, you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim.” Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim, he’s a Christian. He’s always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer’s no, that’s not America.