Religion and the 2008 US Presidential Race, IV
The Gratuitous Smear Campaign
Like it or not, religion is an issue in the current US Presidential race. This issue is being raised primarily by believers rather than the agnostic and atheist community. I don't intend to endorse or to oppose any of the candidates I might mention in this series, just comment on the issue of religion in the election and invite further discussion.
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The previous three articles on the 2008 US presidential campaign have addressed Republican candidates. That's the nature of religion in US politics these days. The Democratic candidates have certainly done their share of pandering to various Christian organizations in the hope of garnering support, but with one exception, religion has not been a significant issue.
That exception, of course, is Barack Obama.
Over the past year, the idiot fringe has disseminated millions of emails, message board posts and blog entries to the effect:
- Obama rhymes with Osama (he must be a follower of Osama bin Laden)
- his middle name is Hussein (he must be a follower of Saddam Hussein)
- his father was Muslim (he must follow his father's religion)
- His mother was an atheist (he must be anti-Christian)
- as a young child in Indonesia, he spent two years in a Muslim primary school or madrassa (he was irrevocably brainwashed)
- therefore Barack Obama is secretly an Islamic fundamentalist terrorist trying to take over the government.
The whole campaign is ludicrous, and yet enough fools buy into it that the message is still circulating. I wasted my time challenging one person who sent me the message; he replied that he had researched it on the internet before forwarding it to everyone he knew, and had found corroborating evidence for Obama being a Muslem fundamentalist. I'm sorry, but the fact the same pack of misinformation is repeated countless times on the net does not make it truth.
It's pretty clear that Barack Obama is a committed Christian. but what if he weren't? Should that matter? Suppose he really was Muslim? Should that disqualify him?
In reality, the vast majority of Muslims, particularly those living in the West, are not radicals and being Muslim does not equate to being a terrorist.
Ultimately the religion (or lack thereof) of a candidate should be irrelevant - as long as that candidate respects the freedom of others to have their own different views of religion and is not seeking office to impose his or her religious views on others.