Five reasons to stop questioning the president’s faith

I thought the question was so absurd to begin with, that it would go away on its own. I was … Continued

I thought the question was so absurd to begin with, that it would go away on its own.

I was wrong.

Four years later, that absurd question, “Do you think Barack Obama is a Muslim?” keeps nagging the American psyche in national and regional polls – despite ample data to the contrary. In 2009, a Pew Research Center poll showed that one in ten Americans believed President Obama was a Muslim; the number jumped to one in five by 2010. So when last week, one in two Republican voters in the states of Mississippi and Alabama reaffirmed the same phobia, I had to say something.




US President Barack Obama waves while speaking during “Lawyers For Obama” luncheon and campaign event at the Palmer House Hilton on March 16, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois.

Data isn’t enough to convince these pollsters, it seems. So here are my top five reasons to stop painting the president as an undercover Muslim by asking this question:

1. The president has answered the question, repeatedly.

They alleged that his father was a Muslim; he denied, saying his father was an atheist. They alleged that he attended a Muslim school in Jakarta for two years; he provided evidence of also attending a Catholic school for the same duration. They alleged his liking for the sound of Azan – the Muslim call to prayer; he presented his 20-years long association with the United Church of Christ. They alleged he was a Muslim by birth; he responded that he was “a Christian by choice.”

2. If a bunch of loose correlations are enough to call Mr. Obama a Muslim, then you might as well declare Thomas Jefferson to be a Muslim too!

Jefferson’s view of God, Jesus, and biblical miracles is far more aligned with the Muslim understanding than the Christian doctrine. Like Muslims, Jefferson believed in a Creator whom he invoked in his writings. Like Muslims, Jefferson believed Jesus to be a reformer and not the son of God. Like Muslims, he believed that Jesus never even claimed to be the son of God. Like Muslims, he did not believe in the biblical miracles of Jesus literally walking on water or resurrecting to the skies. And like Muslims he owned a personal copy of the Koran. Who knows? He may have used it to incorporate the principles of equality (4:125), life (5:33), liberty (10:100) and pursuit of happiness (62:11) in the Declaration of Independence.

Isn’t it ironic that President Obama, a man who has repeatedly declared his commitment to Christianity faces unending questions about his faith, but Jefferson, a man who repeatedly denounced core Christian beliefs, stands tall and revered in a monument? Anyway, back to number 3.

3. The question is a dirty trick; a trick that does not work.

The demise of Donald Trump’s presidential bid followed by the political decline of Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain and Rick Perry – all guilty of demonizing Muslims –are a testament that voters are not seduced by this “every-Muslim-is- an-enemy” mentality. And don’t be fooled by the recent success of Rick Santorum. His campaign will soon end up right next to Newt Gingrich’s: on life support.

4. The question is an insult, not to the president or the Muslim faith, but to our Constitution.

A document that allows any American born citizen over the age of 35 to run for the office of the president, regardless of his or her religion, a document that codifies the presidential Oath to office to make it faith-neutral, “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States…” is too sacred to be trivialized by such bigoted questions.

5. We know the right question to ask.

Surprisingly the right question did not come from the Muslims, or the Democrats, or atheists but from the core of Republican party itself: Colin Powell. During a 2008 “Meet the Press” interview, Powell pushed back: Is there something wrong with a seven year old Muslim American kid believing that he or she could be president (one day)?

I neither plan to invite President Obama to a Friday prayer service nor wish to posthumously convert Thomas Jefferson to Islam. I just would like the pollsters to ask the right question in the future polls: Is there something wrong with a Muslim running for the president of United States?

Many seven-year-old Muslim Americans are waiting for the answer.

Dr. Faheem Younus is an adjunct faculty for religion and history at the community colleges of Baltimore County. He blogs at

Dr. Faheem Younus
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  • WmarkW

    The real question is “How doe we get rid of this guy, who doesn’t do anything but read teleprompters, and grow spending directed toward his constituent groups?”

  • jimwalters1

    How about “Why do Obama hater feel compelled to lie about him continuously (Muslim / atheist / not born in the US / communist / fascist / socialist / etc.), and why, when called on their lies, why do they either simply repeat the lie or change the subject?”

    Stooping to dignify your points, presidents have been using the teleprompter at least since Reagan, and Reagan’s speeches definitely suffered when he didn’t use it. That doesn’t stop Republicans from worshiping him. Perhaps the whole teleprompter thing is a made up controversy from people who will seize on any excuse, no matter how flimsy, to bash Obama. Naturally, that leads back to my question above.

    As for directing spending to supporters, please supply reliable evidence that Obama does this at levels that exceed what is typical for Republican politicians.

  • jimwalters1

    Now for Dr. Younus’ question:

    No, there is nothing wrong with a Muslim running for president. The same holds for Mormons, Hindus, Wiccas, or Atheists. This answer presumes that the candidate will take the JFK approach to their religion. On the other hand, there is something wrong when someone wants to use the presidency to push their own religious beliefs into public policy. That even holds when the religion being pushed is my own (I’m looking at you, Santorum).

  • ccnl1

    Obama “mouths” that he is Christian i.e. believes in an invisible god, gay Gabriel and war-mongering Michael the Archangel and Satan. BO’s support of abortion/choice however vitiates has Christianity as he is the leader of the Immoral Majority who are now the largest voting bloc in the country. Immoral Majority you ask??

    The 78 million voting “mothers and fathers” of aborted womb babies !!! (2012 -1973 Rowe vs. Wade = 39.

    39 x 2 million = 78 million. Abortion rate in the USA as per the CDC is one million/yr.

    And the presidential popular vote in 2008? 69,456,897 for pro-abortion/choice BO, 59,934,814 for “pro-life” JM. The population of the Immoral Majority in 2008? ~ 70 million !!!!!!

  • shbashir

    Thank you Dr. Younus for this article explaning the foolishness of the American people in objecting to the Constitution of our country. When my daughter, a Muslimamerican, was 8 years old, her teacher flat out told her that one day she would be the president of America.

  • ah28202

    John Locke first thought of “Life, Liberty, and Property” which Americans changed to be “pursuit of happiness.” fact check pease

  • ah28202

    Jefferson took “Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness” from John Locke’s three fundamental rights of “Life, Liberty and Property.” – Other than that, the article is spot on.

  • ccnl1

    19) A Pakistani minister, who had said he was getting death threats because of his stance against the country’s controversial blasphemy law, was shot and killed Wednesday, 3/2/2011

    20) two American troops killed in Germany by a recently radicalized Muslim, 3/3/2011

    21) the kidnapping and apparent killing of a follower of Zoraster in the dark world of Islamic Pakistan.

    22) Shariatpur, Bangladesh (CNN 3/30/2011) — Hena Akhter’s last words to her mother proclaimed her innocence. But it was too late to save the 14-year-old girl. Her fellow villagers in Bangladesh’s Shariatpur district had already passed harsh judgment on her. Guilty, they said, of having an affair with a married man. The imam from the local mosque ordered the fatwa, or religious ruling, and the punishment: 101 lashes delivered swiftly, deliberately in public. Hena dropped after 70 and died a week later.

    23) “October 4, 2011, 100 die as a truck loaded with drums of fuel exploded Tuesday at the gate of compound housing several government ministries on a busy Mogadishu street. It was the deadliest single bombing carried out by the al Qaeda-linked al-Shabab group in Somalia since their insurgency began. “

  • Kingofkings1

    In matters of faith, if a man says he believes in a certain faith, I take his word for it. If I have to ask for a a second time, I would rather ask whether his reproductive organ is really the size he says it is than ask him to reiterate if he really believes in his professed faith

  • edbyronadams

    True faith demands more than a mere proclamation. Something so profound as a belief in a metaphysical reality demands practice and action based on that faith. We should judge all person’s proclamations by how seriously they follow the tenets of that faith.

  • Kingofkings1

    I would like to point out another misconception not cleared in this article:
    Although it is clear that obama is a christian by choice, his muslim by birth allegation doesn’t hold because his father renounced the islamic faith and was a practicing athest

  • longjohns

    Actually, you missed the important reason. Thou shall not judge.