For months, rumors have been swirling around that Barack Obama is secretly a Muslim. One would think that these sorts of rumors would be easily quashed by his seemingly straight-forward declarations that he is, in fact, a “devout Christian [who has] been a member of the same church for 20 years [and prays] to Jesus every night.”
For the most part, these rumors have been dismissed by anyone willing to look at the evidence or take Obama’s words at face value. But for those with a religious/political agenda to advance, it turns out that the simple question of Obama’s faith is really, really complicated.
Missionary to Capitol Hill and Evangelical leader Rev. Rob Schenck (pronounced SHANK) takes on the thorny question of Barack Obama’s religious identity in a new video blog posting called Faith and Action Live! which will post today, March 5, at 1:00 PM (EST) at www.faithandaction.org.
In his video blog, Rev. Schenck discusses Senator Obama’s public profession of Christian faith, his Muslim background and the view of the Islamic world on what defines a Muslim.
Schenck apparently fancies himself an expert on the topic because he “has been at the forefront of a series of religious dialogues between Evangelical leaders and their Muslim counterparts” and his “adult daughter has for the last year lived among Muslims while directing a private school in the desert of North Africa.”
Schenck reports that last year he “sent a research assistant to Chicago to investigate Obama’s relationship to his church, the Trinity United Church of Christ, where until recently Obama’s spiritual mentor, Dr. Jeremiah Wright, was pastor” and emerged with a report that found “Obama’s Christianity woefully deficient.”
At the time, Schenck seemed willing to accept that Obama was a Christian, but now Schenck is growing concerned that Obama may in fact be a Muslim because, as he put it, the issue is really how the Muslim world defines being Muslim. As he sees it, Muslims inherit their religion from their parents, specifically their fathers. Thus, to be born of a Muslim father makes one a Muslim. By Schenck’s analysis, Obama has a Muslim father and a Muslim name and while he may now proclaim himself a Christian, the question remains whether he is really just an apostate, infidel, or unfaithful Muslim rather than a non-Muslim.
For his part, Schenck declared that he has no reason not to take Obama “at his word” regarding his Christianity … and then proceeded to question the legitimacy and depth of his faith, saying “The question becomes: How serious, how profound is the religious commitment that Barack Obama has made” considering that the United Church of Christ to which he belongs has strayed dramatically from “historical, Biblical Christianity … from historic, moral Christian instruction.” Schenck also says it is interesting that Obama claims to “pray to Jesus” rather than “pray to God in Jesus’ name” and takes issue with Obama’s claim that his views on topics like civil unions and abortion don’t make him any less of a Christian, saying that “he owes the public a further explanation of that and most certainly religious people.”
Schenck declares that what religious affiliation a political figure claims is less important that what positions they espouse and promote – and when it comes to Obama, this issues is vitally important because not only is he a bad Christian, he might also be a unwitting Muslim:
“Obama has said quite plainly that he is a Christian. It is true that he is a member of a Christian church, that he did in fact walk the aisle and kneel beneath a cross. He has told us that he prays every day to Jesus. Muslims certainly do not pray to Jesus. They do not kneel at the foot of a cross. They do not join churches. They do not make a public statement such as “I am a Christian, a devout Christian. They don’t do that. Based on that, I would have to conclude, no, he is not a Muslim. And yet the question haunts us: how does the Muslim world see that? How does a Muslim religious authority see that? Would a Muslim religious authority say he was born of a Muslim father, therefore he remains a Muslim.”
The issue of Obama’s faith is, according to Schenck, an “extremely important question that demands to be asked more and in greater depth” – one that he is pressuring Obama to discuss with him “face to face.”