Is Barack Obama a Muslim?
By David Emery
Netlore Archive: Online rumor alleges that Barack Obama is secretly a Muslim and has lied to the American people about his religious affiliation, including his claim to being a devout Christian for most of his adult life.
Description: Rumor / Viral messages
Circulating since: Jan. 2007
Status: The evidence indicates otherwise (see details below)
Email text contributed by Bill W., Jan. 15, 2007:
Subject:Fwd: Be careful, be very careful.
Email text contributed by Ron P., July 8, 2007:
Subject: Who is Barack Obama?
Analysis: We are asked to believe that Barack Obama, who for over 20 years has professed to be a devout Christian and spoken publicly of his "personal relationship with Jesus Christ," is in fact a covert Muslim who has lied his entire adult life about his true religious affiliation.
No tangible proof is offered no sightings of Obama attending a mosque, no photos of him reading the Koran, praying to Mecca, or observing Islamic holidays with his family. There is no outward evidence that Barack Obama has ever evinced a belief in, or commitment to, any other faith than Christianity.
The entire case, such as it is, rests on a confused and error-ridden recitation of Obama's upbringing and purported childhood influences. It also rests on that is to say, exploits some Americans' fear and deep mistrust of the Muslim faith.
CLAIM: Obama's father, Barack Hussein Obama, Sr., was a "radical Muslim who migrated from Kenya to Jakarta, Indonesia."
STATUS: FALSE. Except in early childhood, Obama, Sr. wasn't a Muslim at all, let alone a "radical" Muslim. According to Obama, Jr., his father was "raised a Muslim" but lost his faith and had become a "confirmed atheist" by the time he attended college. Author Sally Jacobs (The Other Barack: The Bold and Reckless Life of President Obama's Father, New York: Public Affairs Books, 2011) writes that Obama, Sr. was exposed to Muslim teachings as a child but converted to Anglicanism around the age of 6, attended Christian schools into his teens, and was "a-religious" as an adult. Obama, Jr.'s parents separated not long after he was born, his father moving not to Jakarta but to the United States, where he attended Harvard. Eventually Obama, Sr. returned to Kenya.
CLAIM: Obama's mother went on to marry another Muslim named Lolo Soetoro who "educated his stepson as a good Muslim by enrolling him in one of Jakarta's Wahabbi [sic] schools."
STATUS: PARTLY TRUE. When Obama's mother remarried, it was indeed to an Indonesian man named Lolo Soetoro, whom his stepson later described as a "non-practicing" Muslim. But it was his "secular" mother who directly supervised his education, Obama has written, sending him to both Catholic and Muslim primary schools after the family moved to Jakarta.
There's nothing on record to indicate Obama attended a madrassa (Muslim religious school) run by Wahhabists, and in any case it's unlikely his mother would have chosen to expose him to such an extreme form of Islam given her stated abhorrence of religious closed-mindedness and her stated goal of giving her son a well-rounded education, including in matters of faith.
(Update: CNN tracked down the Indonesian school in question, the Basuki School in Jakarta, which a deputy headmaster describes as a "public school" with no particular religious agenda. "In our daily lives, we try to respect religion, but we don't give preferential treatment," the headmaster told CNN. A former classmate of Obama's describes the school as "general," with students of many religious backgrounds attending. Obama entered the school at the age of 8 and attended for two years.)
See also: Does Obama's Wedding Ring Say "No Got But Allah"?
CLAIM: "Obama takes great care to conceal the fact that he is a Muslim while admitting that he was once a Muslim."
STATUS: FALSE. Once a Muslim? When? Unless I missed it while skimming his two books and a great many news interviews, Obama has never mentioned, let alone "admitted," being a Muslim at any point in his life. Yes, he lived in a Muslim country during part of his childhood, but there's no evidence he was literally raised in the Muslim faith, nor has he ever been, so far as any public evidence shows, a practitioner of Islam.
See also: Is There a Photo of Barack Obama Praying at a Mosque?
CLAIM: When Obama was sworn into office (as a Senator) he used the Koran (Qur'an) instead of the Bible.
STATUS: FALSE. According to news accounts Barack Obama brought his personal Bible to his 2005 Senate swearing-in ceremony, which was conducted by Vice-President Dick Cheney. Those alleging otherwise are apparently confusing Obama with Congressman Keith Ellison, who actually is a Muslim, and who posed for photographs with his hand on the Qur'an after being sworn in to the House of Representatives on January 4, 2007.
• Photo of Barack Obama "Praying at a Mosque"?
• Does Obama's Wedding Ring Say "No Got But Allah"?
• "Islam on Capitol Hill"
• Is Barack Obama the Antichrist?
• Barack Obama's Birth Certificate
Sources and further reading:
The God Factor: Cathleen Falsani Interview with Barack Obama
Chicago Sun Times, 5 April 2004
CNN Debunks False Report About Obama
CNN, 23 January 2007
Obama Describes Faith Amid False Rumors
Associated Press, Dec. 16, 2007
Debunked Insight Magazine and Fox News Smear Campaign
Obama campaign website, Jan. 23, 2007
Barack Obama Takes His Seat in U.S. Senate
Jet, 24 January 2005
At Swearing in, Congressman Wants to Carry Koran. Outrage Ensues
Christian Science Monitor, 7 December 2006
The Other Barack: The Bold and Reckless Life of President Obama's Father
By Sally Jacobs (Public Affairs Books, 2011)
Dreams from My Father
By Barack Obama (Three Rivers Press, 2004)
The Audacity of Hope
By Barack Obama (Crown Publishers, 2006)
Last updated: 10/10/13