Tuesday, February 26, 2008

NO, MOM, OBAMA IS NOT A MUSLIM
Truth is contrary to malicious e-mail rumors and inflammatory TV/radio host rhetoric

INDEPENDENT & REPUBLICAN ROOTS. I rarely talk politics with my parents. Dad's a tenacious Independent from before George Wallace days. Mom's family are thoroughly New Castle, Indiana, Republicans. I mimicked my parents' politics until I was 21 years old. It wasn't until graduate school days that I moved toward progressive politics. I did so based on an awakening to the plight of the poor and specter of poverty in America and around the world. You might say I soul-searched my way out of conservative political ideology. In a predominantly politically conservative evangelical milieu, I've often been made to feel like an outsider. I'm okay with that.

NOT ONLY NOT MUSLIM, OBAMA'S EVANGELICAL. Every now and then, mom and I will lightly broach the subject of politics on the phone. Recently, after I spoke of the phenomenon of Barack Obama's growing candidacy, she said she'd heard that he was a Muslim. "No, mom," I said, "he's Christian--an evangelical Christian, at that. He's a member and participant of a large predominantly African-American United Church of Christ on the south side of Chicago. He's spoken repeatedly of his Christian faith--before and since his campaign began."

WHO'S FOMENTING THIS STUFF? I'd like to know who's feeding lies about Obama--or any other political figure. Who's forwarding inflammatory e-mails? Who is spouting this stuff over the airwaves? Are these lies being planted in hushed, private conversations? Do they murmur about his middle name--"Hussein?" Do they also wink and tell a racist joke or two? I hope not. But I know that such wink-wink conversation, radio and TV talk, e-mail exchange and instant-message banter occurs routinely. It's an undercurrent that thrives on untruth and half-truths and is fueled by suspicion, fear, ignorance and hatred.

SOURCES OF THE TRUTH ABOUT OBAMA. I wish those who are telling lies could learn the truth about Barack Obama's Christian faith. I think they'd change their tune, at least a bit. I would recommend they peruse Obama's interview in Christianity Today (the leading conservative evangelical magazine). I would recommend they listen to his fellow-parishioners talk about his faith on National Public Radio. I would recommend that they read his Call to Renewal speech in witness to his faith before colleagues and Christian leaders in Washington, D.C.

LOVING THE SHADOWS. But it's not likely those folks will read, listen, or observe the truth. They won't because they've already decided what they want to believe, what they love to feel, and what they need to reinforce their self-justifying prejudices. They prefer shadowy untruth to the truth. Sadly, most of these people would call themselves Christians and will likely be found singing hymns in church on Sunday. Imagine that. I don't expect people to agree with the politics of Barack Obama, but I expect people to not lie and spread malicious innuendo about him or any other Presidential candidate. All deserve better than that.

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