Thursday, March 15, 2007
Obama: Raised a Muslim After All
... or so reports the Los Angeles Times.
At first, Obama aides directed withering fire at Fox News after it reported that the senator had attended Islamic schools in Indonesia.
Obama's campaign aides have emphasized his strong Christian beliefs and downplayed any Islamic connection. The candidate was raised "in a secular household in Indonesia by his stepfather and mother," his chief spokesman, Robert Gibbs, said in a statement in January after false reports began circulating that Obama had attended a radical madrasa, or Koranic school, as a child.
"To be clear, Senator Obama has never been a Muslim, was not raised a Muslim, and is a committed Christian who attends the United Church of Christ in Chicago," Gibbs' Jan. 24 statement said.
Recently, however, they have amended their early account.
In a statement to The Times on Wednesday, the campaign offered slightly different wording, saying: "Obama has never been a practicing Muslim." The statement added that as a child, Obama had spent time in the neighborhood's Islamic center.
And the documentary record goes a little further still.
His former Roman Catholic and Muslim teachers, along with two people who were identified by Obama's grade-school teacher as childhood friends, say Obama was registered by his family as a Muslim at both of the schools he attended.
That registration meant that during the third and fourth grades, Obama learned about Islam for two hours each week in religion class.
The childhood friends say Obama sometimes went to Friday prayers at the local mosque.
Obama's family and campaign organization play down his religious associations.
But some supporters have responded with eager enthusiasm. As blogger Anya Kamenetz puts it on the Huffington Post today:
Is there anyone else who thinks it's awesome that Obama grew up Muslim?
Good question! Anyone? Anyone? Bueller - anyone?
Update: Having checked around the liberal blogworld a little this morning, I think I can sum up the reaction as: "It's true. So what?" A fair response. And it raises the question: Why doesn't the campaign own up too? Might it be ... could it be ... that they are becoming a little ... cynical?
Some on the right wonder whether Islamists would not regard Obama as an apostate liable to the death penalty.
But they are overlooking the political potential. Obama's supporters like to talk about how their man might change the map of American politics. OK, now imagine this: Obama speaking to a white Baptist church in, say, Arkansas ... and holding all those Bible-believing conservative Republicans spellbound with the inspiring story of how he left Islam behind to discover the true loving faith of Jesus Christ! Talk about changing the map!
03/15 10:51 AM