I missed five days of work last week because I caught bronchial pneumonia, also known as "hell in my lungs". My son brought it home from daycare. I was so miserable, and I could barely talk, so I prayed for a miracle recovery, also known as "Aunt K's homemade chicken soup".
Instead, she sent me an e-mail instructing me to drink lots of fluids and warned me not to be tempted to vote for Barack Obama should he win the nomination in this election.
Several of my conservative, Republican relatives forwarded copies of an e-mail claiming that Senator Obama was a Muslim with an Islamic agenda, that he was secretly chosen to carry out a plan designed by terrorists to destroy America, and that becoming President of the United States was the first step to completely annihilate our country.
What's worse is that I received that same e-mail eleven times in that week. My family and friends wanted to be sure I got the message that Barack Obama was the closest thing to the anti-Christ.
The opening paragraph of the e-mail urges, "If you do not ever forward anything else, please forward this to all your contacts. This is very scary to think of what lies ahead of us, here in our own United States. You better heed this and pray about it and share it." But what really frightens me, are the inaccuracies and downright lies that this e-mail is circulating through the Internet.
For example, the claim is made that "this information is factual" because it was "verified on Snopes.com", and instructs the reader to click an enclosed link to check it out for themselves.
One version of the e-mail in circulation claims "We were told this was checked out on 'snopes.com'. It is factual. Check for yourself," and includes a link to this web site. It's our guess that whoever included that bit was counting on folks to not check, as our article says the opposite: that the polemic is not factual, but rather is false.
The first "fact" states that Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, to Barack Obama, Sr., a black Muslim from Kenya, and Ann Dunham, a white atheist from Wichita, Kansas. However, it was Obama's father that was an atheist, and his mother did not practice any religion.
Obama's father and mother separated when he was two years old. He lived most of his life in Hawaii, but from ages six to ten, he lived in Jakarta, Indonesia, after his mother married Lolo Soetoro, an Indonesian foreign student.
The second misconception is that Obama's stepfather is a radical Muslim, and that Soetoro raised Barack as a Muslim as well. While living in Jakarta, Obama attended Basuki School in Menteng, Jakarta, in which classes were taught in the Indonesian language. The Basuki School has been inaccurately reported as being a "madrassa" (an Islamic religious school).
In January 2007, Insight magazine printed an article which alleges that unnamed sources close to Senator Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign had discovered that the Basuki School was an Islamic learning institution (A CNN article debunks this myth.), when in fact, it is a public school for people of all faiths. Barack Obama also attended Catholic school in Indonesia as well.
The third untruth states:
Obama takes great care to conceal the fact that he is a Muslim. He is quick to point out that he was once a Muslim, but that he also attended Catholic School. Obama's political handlers are attempting to make it appear that he is not a radical.
The e-mail even goes so far as to claim that Barack Obama will not recite the Pledge of Allegiance, nor will he show any reverence to the American flag; and that Senator Obama was sworn into office not with the Holy Bible, but the Koran instead.
Most of the information in the e-mail is distorted and exaggerated. There is simply no evidence to support the notion that Obama is a "radical Muslim". Barack Obama describes himself as a Christian and says that he is rooted in the Christian tradition. His association with the United Church of Christ began over twenty years ago, long before he contemplated a political career or launched his campaign for the presidency.
Upon further research, I discovered that this malicious e-mail has been floating through the Internet since as early as October 2007, when questions of Obama's faith began to surface.
Despite his denials, rumors and e-mails circulating on the Internet continue to allege that Obama (D-Ill.) is a Muslim, a "Muslim plant" in a conspiracy against America, and that, if elected president, he would take the oath of office using a Koran, rather than a Bible, as did Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), the only Muslim in Congress, when he was sworn in earlier this year.
In campaign appearances, Obama regularly mentions his time living and attending school in Indonesia, and the fact that his paternal grandfather, a Kenyan farmer, was a Muslim. Obama invokes these facts as part of his case that he is prepared to handle foreign policy, despite having been in the Senate for only three years, and that he would literally bring a new face to parts of the world where the United States is not popular.
In June 2006, Senator Obama gave a 'Call to Renewal' keynote address in Washington D.C. in which he talks about the connection between religion and politics, and offers thoughts on how to sort through the bitter arguments that have been popping up over the past several years. He spoke of when he ran against Alan Keyes for the 2004 U.S. Senate Election:
"Mr. Keyes is well-versed in the Jerry Falwell-Pat Robertson style of rhetoric that often labels progressives as both immoral and godless. Indeed, Mr. Keyes announced towards the end of the campaign that, "Jesus Christ would not vote for Barack Obama. Christ would not vote for Barack Obama because Barack Obama has behaved in a way that it is inconceivable for Christ to have behaved."
Now, I was urged by some of my liberal supporters not to take this statement seriously, to essentially ignore it.
But what they didn't understand, however, was that I had to take Mr. Keyes seriously, for he claimed to speak for my religion, and my God. He claimed knowledge of certain truths. Mr. Obama says he's a Christian, he was saying, and yet he supports a lifestyle that the Bible calls an abomination. Mr. Obama says he's a Christian, but supports the destruction of innocent and sacred life.
And so what would my supporters have me say? How should I respond? Should I say that a literalist reading of the Bible was folly? Should I say that Mr. Keyes, who is a Roman Catholic, should ignore the teachings of the Pope?
Unwilling to go there, I answered with what has come to be the typically liberal response in such debates - namely, I said that we live in a pluralistic society, that I can't impose my own religious views on another, that I was running to be the U.S. Senator of Illinois and not the Minister of Illinois."
When I began to dig further into the biography of Barack Obama, I didn't uncover a radical Muslim. I discovered the junior U.S. Senator from Illinois, the fifth African American Senator in U.S. History, and the only African American currently serving in the U.S. Senate.
I learned that Senator Obama is a graduate of Columbia University, as well as Harvard Law School, and that he worked as a community organizer, university lecturer and civil rights lawyer before running for public office.
This is a man who was raised in culturally diverse surroundings, a politician that was elected to the U.S. Senate with a landslide 70% of the vote.
Senator Obama supports many important political issues. He co-sponsored the enactment of conventional weapons control. He made official trips to Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and he sponsored legislation on lobbying and electoral fraud, as well as global climate change, nuclear terrorism, and care for the returned military personnel.
Since his presidential campaign launched last February, Obama has stressed the importance of ending the war in Iraq, increasing energy independence, and he's a firm supporter of universal health care.
Far be it for me to make inaccurate assumptions based on an e-mail that was intended to scare the pants off uninformed voters.
I may not agree with every aspect of Barack Obama's political campaign, but I'm certainly not going to disregard the fact that he is a modernistic candidate for the Presidency of the United States.
Keeping in mind what Senator Obama said, "...we live in a pluralistic society, that I can't impose my own religious views on another..", I was baffled with Mike Huckabee's revelation that he supports changing the Constitution to reflect God's word.
If a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down, does Mike Huckabee's sweet way with a word make tolerable views that would be rejected as extreme in the mouths of others less verbally gifted?
Exactly which Word of God is Huckabee referring to? Will it be the NIV, King James, NASB, Living Bible, The Promise, Today's English Bible, Amplified Bible or something else? How do we determine which version to use that would be suitable for Catholics, Lutherans, Methodists, Baptists, Jews, Muslims, Mormons, Buddhists, Evangelicals, Jehovah's Witnesses, Atheists, Agnostics and every other religion or non-religion in existence today?
"Wow. All I can say. Wow. So much for separation of church and state. This man is dangerous..."
"This man got this far in a presidential campaign? How the hell does that happen? Would someone please pull him aside and sit him down with a copy of the Constitution and explain to him about the separation of church and state? At this very moment Thomas Jefferson is spinning in his grave fast enough to power Monticello for a year."
Nicole Belle of Crooks and Liars writes:
"Please. Make. It. Stop. I hate to break it to the Huckster, but the Middle Ages weren’t really that much fun. Why is it that the Republican Party seems to want to force us all back there?"
From One Girl's Blog:
"I think that alone makes it clear that we don’t need Huckabee in the White House. What we have is bad enough; we don’t need to see the faith-based initiatives this freak would put in place."
From Liberty Street:
From Delaware Watch:
"This man actually wants to adjust the constitution to accord with the Bible. Replace "Bible" with "Koran" and you have the same logic as an Islamic theocrat."
From The Democratic Daily:
"This guy is a real threat to our basic rights under the Constitution and I don’t think we should under estimate the sway he may have with the Christian right."
Oooh, nuance! writes humorously:
"Ah, yes. Good ol' Hackabee, with his five o'clock shadow and folksy manner. What an appealing candidate! He was a Governor. He's not a legacy candidate like George W. Bush. He's got real evangelical creds, being a Baptist minister. Heck, he even seems to have compassion for poor people - something a lot of elected Republics lack. What could be wrong with this guy?"
For the record, I couldn't find one single blogger, Democrat or Republican, who agrees with Huckabee's statement. Two weeks ago, Morra Aarons asked me what I thought of Mike Huckabee. My response was:
"I think Mike Huckabee is too good to be true. I like him, but I feel a little uncertain about his ability to lead this country. I can't quite find the words to describe my feelings. I know that sounds ridiculous. To be honest, I want to vote for him, should he win the nomination, but something holds me back."
I think I found the "something" that stops me in my tracks. The man is a loon, and after speaking to my parents, they believe he's off his rocker, too.
Voters like myself and my parents were swooning over Huckabee based on his smooth rhetoric and persuasive abilities. We loved that he wasn't afraid to say "Merry Christmas" on television and we were impressed that he kept Christ in Christmas. But we are not extremists.
As a Catholic, religion is important to me, and it plays an important role on how I vote in this election -- particularly because of one very important issue dear to my heart.
However, once religion becomes the sole focus of a political campaign, it begins to trample on the rights of others. I can't imagine that this is what God intended, and I don't believe that Mike Huckabee will have any chance in moving forward in this election based on his extreme statement. But don't take my word for it, it's obvious the blogosphere speaks for itself.
Contributing Editor Dana J. Tuszke also writes at The Dana Files.
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