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Five reasons to stop questioning the president’s faith

20 March 2012 General 34 Comments Email This Post Email This Post
By Faheem Younus

I thought the question was so absurd to begin with, that it would go away on its own.

I was wrong.

Four years later, that absurd question, “Do you think Barack Obama is a Muslim?” keeps nagging the American psyche in national and regional polls – despite ample data to the contrary. In 2009, a Pew Research Center poll showed that one in ten Americans believed President Obama was a Muslim; the number jumped to one in five by 2010. So when last week, one in two Republican voters in the states of Mississippi and Alabama reaffirmed the same phobia, I had to say something.

Enough!

US President Barack Obama waves while speaking during "Lawyers For Obama" luncheon and campaign event at the Palmer House Hilton on March 16, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI - AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

US President Barack Obama waves while speaking during "Lawyers For Obama" luncheon and campaign event at the Palmer House Hilton on March 16, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI - AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

Data isn’t enough to convince these pollsters, it seems. So here are my top five reasons to stop painting the president as an undercover Muslim by asking this question:

1. The president has answered the question, repeatedly.

They alleged that his father was a Muslim; he denied, saying his father was an atheist. They alleged that he attended a Muslim school in Jakarta for two years; he provided evidence of also attending a Catholic school for the same duration. They alleged his liking for the sound ofAzan – the Muslim call to prayer; he presented his 20-years long association with the United Church of Christ. They alleged he was a Muslim by birth; he responded that he was “a Christian by choice.”

2. If a bunch of loose correlations are enough to call Mr. Obama a Muslim, then you might as well declare Thomas Jefferson to be a Muslim too!

Jefferson’s view of God, Jesus, and biblical miracles is far more aligned with the Muslim understanding than the Christian doctrine. Like Muslims, Jefferson believed in a Creator whom he invoked in his writings. Like Muslims, Jefferson believed Jesus to be a reformer and not the son of God. Like Muslims, he believed that Jesus never even claimed to be the son of God. Like Muslims, he did not believe in the biblical miracles of Jesus literally walking on water or resurrecting to the skies. And like Muslims he owned a personal copy of the Koran. Who knows? He may have used it to incorporate the principles of equality (4:125), life (5:33), liberty (10:100) and pursuit of happiness (62:11) in the Declaration of Independence.

Isn’t it ironic that President Obama, a man who has repeatedly declared his commitment to Christianity faces unending questions about his faith, but Jefferson, a man who repeatedly denounced core Christian beliefs, stands tall and revered in a monument? Anyway, back to number 3.

3. The question is a dirty trick; a trick that does not work.

The demise of Donald Trump’s presidential bid followed by the political decline of Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain and Rick Perry – all guilty of demonizing Muslims –are a testament that voters are not seduced by this “every-Muslim-is- an-enemy” mentality. And don’t be fooled by the recent success of Rick Santorum. His campaign will soon end up right next to Newt Gingrich’s: on life support.

4. The question is an insult, not to the president or the Muslim faith, but to our Constitution.

A document that allows any American born citizen over the age of 35 to run for the office of the president, regardless of his or her religion, a document that codifies the presidential Oath to office to make it faith-neutral, “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States…” is too sacred to be trivialized by such bigoted questions.

5. We know the right question to ask.

Surprisingly the right question did not come from the Muslims, or the Democrats, or atheists but from the core of Republican party itself: Colin Powell. During a 2008 “Meet the Press” interview, Powell pushed back: Is there something wrong with a seven year old Muslim American kid believing that he or she could be president (one day)?

I neither plan to invite President Obama to a Friday prayer service nor wish to posthumously convert Thomas Jefferson to Islam. I just would like the pollsters to ask the right question in the future polls: Is there something wrong with a Muslim running for the president of United States?

Many seven-year-old Muslim Americans are waiting for the answer.

Dr. Faheem Younus is an adjunct faculty for religion and history at the community colleges of Baltimore County. He blogs atwww.muslimerican.com.

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34 Comments »

  1. With the US anti-discrimination laws, the focus should have always been on those who are so openly concerned about what his beliefs are! No one can be denied a job becuz of their religion…

  2. Conservative Christians tend to scoff at facts. They “feel” like Jefferson (and the founding fathers) were evangelical Christians, so that’s good enough for them.

  3. Our founding fathers were deists

  4. It goes far deeper than “racism” ..As long as anyone does a good job nobody should even care what religion he is..Or even if he wasn’t religious why the hell should anyone care??? Talk about get out of peoples religious beliefs already!! And American are being the morons terrorizing people all over the world lately so they also need to get off their high horse of who and what a real terrorist is..Look the meaning up in the dictionary for a change…Just because someone is different from you, or lives somewhere else does not make them a terrorist..Now, barging in somoenes house while they are sleeping and killing them in cold blood..that….that is terrorism.. Killing someone and pissing on them,, that right there is terrorism…Just because you don’t like something of another culture, you decide to destroy anything to do with their beliefs…that is real terrorism…As long as Obama does not cause a war who cares what religion he is….He isn’t the one acting like a freaking nut case out there killing innocent people…

  5. It goes far deeper than “racism” ..As long as anyone does a good job nobody should even care what religion he is..Or even if he wasn’t religious why the hell should anyone care??? Talk about get out of peoples religious beliefs already!! And American are being the morons terrorizing people all over the world lately so they also need to get off their high horse of who and what a real terrorist is..Look the meaning up in the dictionary for a change…Just because someone is different from you, or lives somewhere else does not make them a terrorist..Now, barging in somoenes house while they are sleeping and killing them in cold blood..that….that is terrorism.. Killing someone and pissing on them,, that right there is terrorism…Just because you don’t like something of another culture, you decide to destroy anything to do with their beliefs…that is real terrorism…As long as Obama does not cause a war who cares what religion he is….He isn’t the one acting like a freaking nut case out there killing innocent people.

  6. A persons religious beliefs are noones business unless those beliefs are being push onto others.

  7. Its just to deflect the real reason they hate him.They know its acceptable to be bigoted against Muslims in America in public,but not against Black folks ,out loud unless you use code!

  8. No one freaked when Bush openly said “God” told him to attack Iraq but they seem to freak when someone says “God” told them to kill someone, what is the difference….. only that Bush sent thousands to kill thousands and the other guy killed 1

  9. That’s probably why Texas keeps trying to write Jefferson out of American history.

  10. Very good parallel!!!

  11. Tank, some were deists, some were were Christians. They ran an interesting gamut, but on the whole agreed on one thing: state sponsored religion is dangerous and an impediment to freedom.

  12. It’s because people don’t like liars… At least for me. I don’t care what he is, as long as he’s honest.

  13. @Ron: I submit that that’s practically including the birthers.

  14. And if he is Muslim, isn’t there something islamophobic about not admitting it?

  15. Although in our books it does not specifically say that Jesus walked on water, there is nothing in our Faith to question it. Jesus, just like all Prophets of Allah, performed miracles by the Will of God.

  16. He’s not a Muslim; he’s merely a politician, which is arguably a lot worse.

  17. I thought he was elected to lead the nation,not some kind of a ”Religiouse Sermon”!! *wink*
    what if he was a Muslim and lead the nation as he should?!?!

  18. If he were Muslim wouldn’t it be Islamophobic to hint that it might be something wrong about having such a belief?

  19. In Jefferson’s time people still remembered the horror of religious wars and were determined that anyone’s views would be tolerated. We seem to have forgotten that lesson.

  20. Well said Cindy Adams :)

  21. The Constitution of the US forbids religious tests for public office. That’s the bottom line!

  22. Obama is a good man, I think he could be a little more stern, but still, he’s the best president we can have right now.

  23. Cindy Adams, I agree with Mazhar Pathan…. Well said!

  24. Does Barak recite the Quran? SomeONE answer that ? For me.

  25. cindy,

    your comment makes no sense. first you say america is a terrorist state. then you say obama, the leader of america isn’t “out there killing innocent people”. does he not order the prone strikes in pakistan? he may not pull the trigger but he is certainly responsible. as for pissing on dead bodies, how is that terrorism?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terrorism

  26. People are stupid, then and now.

  27. No, it’s not ironic. Thomas Jefferson practiced sanity. One way or another (and I highly doubt it’s through Islam), Barack Obama professes belief in a deity who drowned everyone that it didn’t like, required its first real worshiper to be willing to murder his son in its name, and in whom belief has caused many a genocide. Sure, there are idiots who make everything about their version of Abrahamic archaism supposedly being better than the other varieties, but our planet will be in a much better place when all these forms of primitive authority-worship are consigned to the histories — as long as the process doesn’t simply replace deity as object of worship, fear, and adulation with the state.

  28. And to Ron Harris.. It is NOT ok to be bigoted at all against anyone for anything at all.. We are all of ONE race,,its called the HUMAN race..It’s high time people acted like people instead of wild damn animals out for blood all the time

  29. Muslim religion is totally a bad one. Ever notice that every terrorist attack on the US troops in Afghanastan gives a muslim a bad rep and makes them guilty by association? Just sayin. Christianity is definately better in that if someone changes their faith, another christian wont kill them? If you try and do that as a muslim your basicly a dead man walking untill they kill you. What ever happened to the civility of prayer? Doesnt that make sense more than murder? Cristians believe that we should treat our enemies as we would like to be treated and love them even if they persecute you. PRAY FOR YOUR ENEMIES PEOPLE!!!!! Use the KISS method (keep it simple stupid!)! Lets avoid steppemg on each others toes in anger or rage or jealously. But lets step on their toes in love and in faith that all Muslims will be set free by the blood and Mercy of Jesus Christ the only true God who was born and killed for so that we would not parrish but have everlasting life in eternity with Him in Heaven.

  30. James, I totally agree. Don’t forget to throw worship of government in there.

  31. K… you said that. I skipped your last sentence apparently.

  32. james,

    there is no place for that kind of reason here.

  33. How does anyone know if he is religious at all? Since he is a politician he may have just attended church for influence and to gain votes.

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