A Question of Religion

By: Sarah M

Twenty-four percent of Americans believe that our current President, Barack Obama, is Muslim. There are many reasons for the average citizen to say this.  Of the 42% who say Barack Obama is Christian, most say that the idea that he is a Muslim was invented to shine a derogatory light on him. After all, he does openly try to support “moderate Muslims,” but he has stated, several times, that he is a man of the Christian faith.  The main reason for this mistaken idea sounds harsh, but is true-he is black.  So, he should be Muslim, right?
The idea that he is Muslim may be strongly believed by some, while others believe it as to try to degrade his political and social standings.  The reasons for this are many – his decisions in Afghanistan/Iraq, his decisions and plans about the economy, etc.  Several people were interviewed for this story, both teachers and students.  One interviewee, when asked if they thought Obama was Muslim, said simply “Barack Obama has said he is not Muslim-I believe him.”
The majority of people interviewed at Jefferson claimed to have no knowledge of the subject, or they didn’t really care.  One person said, “I really don’t know…I have no idea.” And would say no more. Others claimed to care about the subject, and just didn’t know.  But almost no one could give any legitimate reason for his or her answer.  Except for one. The first sentence was not promising. “I don’t really care.” But then, “I don’t think it matters what religion our leader is. He is probably Christian, because, with the country getting all huffy about it, I don’t think he would be Muslim.”
The most interesting thing about this is the second part.  This was the only interviewee
who truly didn’t care. Not out of lack of compassion, but because they did not think it was an important factor.  How many people really do care, truly, whether their president is Muslim or Christian or Islamic?  Who does care?
A series of polls launched by Newsweek ask many questions concerning Barack Obama’s values and the country’s reaction to his political decisions.  Many of the questions took into consideration his religion- “What is Obama’s religion? What is your opinion of Muslim Americans?” were some examples.
It seems that quite a few people do care, whether they know or not.  But the question is-should they care?  Is it really that important? Does it influence the political decisions of the president?  There are many answers to this, ranging from “Definitely” to “It depends on the religion.”  A central idea of our democracy is that there will be no mixing of Church and State.  How many people understand and appreciate this anymore?  If their religion were the one being vilified, how would they feel?

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9 thoughts on “A Question of Religion

  1. One of few truly interesting, well-researched and well written articles on here. Don’t get me wrong, there are many interesting articles, a number of well-researched articles and many, many well written ones; however, about half combine two of those descriptors and very few combine all three.

  2. Many excellent questions were raised by this article.

    How can some people not be sure if the President of the United States is Christian or Muslim when the question has been publicly answered?

    Why would people not care if our President is Muslim or not when our country has been repeatedly attacked by Muslims, is at war with Muslim nations, finds itself occupying two of their countries, and as I write is launching missles into Pakistan in order to fight Muslims?

    How many religions have been vilified in this country, including Catholicism? (The attacks on Catholics in this country peaked in the 1920’s, and the only Catholic ever elected President of the United States was assasinated halfway through his first term.)

    Perhaps another question raised by this article is, “Are a people personally responsible for the actions of their government if that government is democratic?” If the answer is yes, then perhaps people should care more. Personal responsibility should never wane.

  3. Mr. Rich,

    I understand the point you are making, but we are striving to fight extremists, i.e. Jihadists, not all Muslims. The two are very different. Also, religions from all over the world are being villified, but of those religions, Islam is currently being attacked the most,at least in this country.

    • That wasn’t a point I was making. It was an immensely important question raised by the article. The article also raised the moral dilemma of vilifying religions and going to war based on political and religious beliefs, including the possibility our President may or may not have those beliefs.

      On both of those questions we know what you believe, and I agree. Your statement that “….Islam is currently being attacked…” is absolutely true. We are in a religious war with them. As the article accidentally pointed out, it is illogical to consider the President to be Muslim when he is leading a war against Muslims as Commander-In-Chief.

      The last question is the most important of all. Are the citizens of a democracy personally liable, perhaps responsible, or even worse, morally and ethically accountable for the deaths of “enemies” killed in war?

  4. Mr. Rich :
    Why would people not care if our President is Muslim or not when our country has been repeatedly attacked by Muslims, is at war with Muslim nations, finds itself occupying two of their countries, and as I write is launching missles into Pakistan in order to fight Muslims?

    I think that description may be a bit extreme. I don’t think that we are at war with Muslims, I think we’re at war with Muslim fundamentalists. Fundamentalists are the worst kind of people, unwilling to see the world in any way other than their preconcieved idea of the “right” way, and furthermore want to force it on the world.

  5. Muslim Fundamentalists? OK. I’ll agree to that. However, our united efforts to be explicit, precise, and open-minded may be like seeing the trees but not the forest.

    We weren’at war with Germany and Japan during WWII? I think we were. Do we have to say we were at war with Nazis? When we went to war, we went to war against all of Germany. Many of these Germans fought Hitler, and some died trying to assassinate him. Many innocent people die in every war…people who care nothing about politics and are totally apolitical.

    I think I am far more anti-war that you think. I am stating facts. We can nitpick them if you want, but we are bombing Pakistan in order to kill “Muslim Extremists” or “Muslim Fundamentalists.” mMny innocent Muslims are dying.

    Are we responsible?

  6. Are we responsible for the deaths? Yes. Should we feel sorry? Yes. Should we apologize? Probably not. I don’t say that because I don’t care. Look at it this way: we are sorry these people died, but we are not sorry for launching the bomb that killed them because its purpose was to kill people who would do more damage than our bombs.

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