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September 08, 2008

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This is just silly. [See my comments below]

The registration is made by Obama's stepfather, Lolo Soetoro, who was a Muslim. As a Muslim stepfather, he probably encouraged his whole family to follow his beliefs, even if they did not. It's even probable that he took Obama to a mosque a couple of times.

The registration however, is for the Catholic school of Fransiskus Assisi in Mentem Dalang, Jakarta, Indonesia. So any thought that Obama was having a Muslim Education in school is incorrect.

One might argue that if Obama has any knowledge of the Islamic religion, this would be in his favor, as both our nation and the world are having to come to grips with the Middle East, and knowledge of the religion that drives the Middle East and is responsible for so many conflicts within it, might actually be very helpful.

However, all of that is irrelevant speculation. Even if Obama did receive any degree of Muslim Education from the ages of seven to eleven, he is obviously not a practicing Muslim now, and even if he were, he is obviously not a Muslim extremist.

It would be much better if you were to focus on important issues like Obama's or McCain's plans for the U.S. economy, which is probably the single most important issue we face this election.

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[From DR -- Andrew, thank you for comments, but please remember that I take background research very seriously. It's not helpful if you make ungrounded statements. Your post does not actually refute my statements, it just pollutes the post with unnecessary confusion.

In fact, this record is from a school which provided religious instruction that was appropriate for the child. If the child was Muslim, their religious instruction was about Islam. The evidence is very clear that Obama received substantial religious instruction in Islam. My posting simply summarizes, in one document, what Gina's post does in much more detail.

In any case THAT IS NOT MY POINT. My point is that Obama should NOT claim incredulity or indignation when people express confusion about his religious background. The best researchers working on this topic find clear evidence that Obama has an Islamic background, and shows no evidence of ever having renounced Islam.

We the public are ENTITLED to be confused, about this, and want answers. I belive that Obama should explain his Islamic past in detail.

I personally have no problem with Obama having been or even NOW being, a Muslim. But I really don't like it when politicians of ANY STRIPE are untruthful to the public.
-- Pro Patria]

...and having researched it further, it turns out that even though Obama was registered at the Catholic school, he ended up attending public school instead.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IZ4v7iLnvrQ

Andrew -- Obama admits having studied the Koran in a New York Times interview posted on his own website. See my longer post for a link:

On March 6, 2007, Nicholas D. Kristof at the New York Times wrote an article about Barack Obama's upbringing, "Obama: Man of the World," where Obama discussed his Muslim upbringing in Jakarta:

"I was a little Jakarta street kid," he said in a wide-ranging interview in his office (excerpts are on my blog, www.nytimes.com/ontheground). He once got in trouble for making faces during Koran study classes in his elementary school, but a president is less likely to stereotype Muslims as fanatics -- and more likely to be aware of their nationalism -- if he once studied the Koran with them.

Mr. Obama recalled the opening lines of the Arabic call to prayer, reciting them with a first-rate accent. In a remark that seemed delightfully uncalculated (it'll give Alabama voters heart attacks), Mr. Obama described the call to prayer as "one of the prettiest sounds on Earth at sunset."

Moreover, Mr. Obama's own grandfather in Kenya was a Muslim. Mr. Obama never met his grandfather and says he isn't sure if his grandfather's two wives were simultaneous or consecutive, or even if he was Sunni or Shiite.

So Obama admits he studied the Koran in school, knows the Muslim call to prayer and loves it, and had a Muslim grandfather as well. And these are just some pieces of the puzzle. My post sets out many more facts.

My post explains why I believe it matters whether Obama is Muslim. In addition, I would add this:

Many people who appreciate America's freedoms and the freedoms of other Western democracies don't realize that many of those freedoms flow directly and naturally from Christianity.

You, Andrew Boylston, enjoy freedom of speech on matters of religion and politics because you are not (I presume) living in an Islamic theocracy.

Christianity has always recognized a separation of church and state. Jesus taught that one must render unto Caesar what is Caesar's, that one should respect the governing authorities, and that his kingdom is not a kingdom of earth, but of heaven.

The separation of church and state is one of many fundamental concepts of Christianity that you benefit from without even realizing it.

In mainstream Islam, there is no such thing as separation of church and state. (The few countries that have tried to make a distinction have been the exception and have been attacked by Islamists.) In Islam, personal religious freedom is also the exception rather than the rule; renouncing Islam is punished by death; merely being Jewish or Christian is also often 'punished' by murder; and acceptable speech is usually tightly restricted. You can't even name a teddy bear "Mohammed" without having angry mobs calling for you to be killed, as a British schoolteacher found out the hard way.

Andrew, I think you take your freedoms for granted, and you assume that they just sprung out of the ground and will survive any president America can elect. They didn't, and they won't necessarily. The freedoms Americans enjoy were the hard won fruits of the work of men and women -- Christians, most of them -- who believed in the idea of "live and let live" so fervently that they were willing to die for that freedom.

Islamists today don't believe in "live and let live." No, it's "live and make die." If you doubt me, visit thereligionofpeace.com and check out the latest body count in the global Islamic jihad. And those attacks are on everybody -- Christians, Muslims, Jews, in countries all around the world. Semi-random murder in the endless pursuit of jihad is one of the products Islam is selling these days.

I'm not eager to start trading away some of the values that made America great. I see no compelling reason to put a former Muslim who won't even admit that fact into the American presidency at this time, seven years after an attempted death blow to our nation on 9/11/01. If Obama was a strong patriot with a track record of showing love for his country, I could see it, but right now Barack Obama isn't even close.

Dear Gina,

May I add some controversial points to your post?

You say, "Christianity has always recognized a separation of church and state."

Whatever Jesus had said, it was not quite so; rather, at certain times (mostly Medieval) states tried more or less successfully to separate from church, which usually had nothing against such a union.

At times, in many countries of Europe church was unseparable of state - France, Spain, Italy, Russia... Popes, cardinals, patryarches... They took (or made others take) decisions, announced wars, etc.

Many wars including most devastating 80-years war and 100-years war had a strong religion (Christian) background. Crusades took away countless thousands of lives, and th evil Spanish inquisition burned thousands of the most beautiful women (among others) by 100% false accusation of witchery.

All that took place centuries ago, and one should not take the current separation of church and state for granted; it is a result of long historic development and sometimes struggle, just like traditional freedoms you are talking about.

Islam is about 600 years younger than Christianity, which was absolutely not so peaceful in, say 1400. Ideally, wecould hope that Islam becomes less agrressive and more tolerant to everything in the future.

And the real big trouble is that nowadays the world (ruled mostlyby the Western civilization) cannot afford waiting. Crusaders had no WMD; jihadists can have various, so the only choice is to win.

And here I am surprised of double standards of the West; does anybody think that Kosovo, just given to Muslims - illegally, breaking existing international agreements - helped somebody to make friends with Islam? No; just one more gate for drugs traffic from Asia...

The UDHR (which is 60 this year, by the way) is a nice document, but it lacks something. Having read this declaration, one can easily come to the idea that freedoms and rights are granted.
But living in a society, one cannot just enjoy rights and freedoms 'unbound'; there are also obligations to perform -- e.g. to respect rights and freedoms of others, to protect them, sometimes even to fight for them, etc.
But there is no Declaration of Obligations; many immigrants know what freedoms they get, and often they do take it for granted.

Best regards from Edinburgh, where I am now for a short business trip.

Do you have numbers about how many "beautiful women" were burned out of witchery in Spain by the Inquisition? I guess you have been mislead. I am not defending them as a good Tribunal, but criminal process was much more agressive. The only real thing against it was its purpose: the elimination of any religion which wasn't Catholicism. That made a lot of good and inteligent people go abroad but not more than in England (Anglicans only persecuted Catholics) or Germany (Protestants also persecuted Catholics).
Just for your own knowledge: Spanish Inquisition actually only burned one "beautiful women" out of witchery in Basque Country in the XVIIth century and, seeing that the process had been really faulty (proofs were not clear enough) they did never kill any other afterwards. Overall, the Spanish Inquisition did only kill around 3,000 people between XVIth and XIXth century in Spain. We know it because of the processes's papers which are conveniently archived and which were released some years ago by the Vatican.
Germany, just to consider the difference, killed 48,000 women out of witchery during the same century, according to some statistics I read some years ago.
About what you say: the difference between Islam and Christianity is that, while its true that in the Middle Ages Church and State were united, the obligation of separating both was in the Gospel, and whoever didn't listen to it, was not fulfilling the Gospel. And not only did the Church violate the separation: the States also did it, just read -for example- about the fall of the Templar Order and you will see that French King Philip the Handsome was very interested in their richesses, so he just built a false accusation, condemned them all and burned the most important ones. Afterwards he paid his own debts. The Pope just didn't do anything because he was "invited" by French King in Avignon, where the Pope lived for some years in the Middle Ages.
In Islam the religion makes the State being Islamic: if not, the Muslims are not obliged to follow State laws. That some of them do not believe in that, does not change what Islam really says. I would like them to change that but nowadays, Islamic texts cannot be interpreted and they say what they say.
Lastly, Hollywood is not a very good base to study European history and the Crusades were not like "the Kingdom of Heaven". Hollywood's films are full of errors in every historical film and your statement about "the beautiful women" makes me laugh... sooo romantic: poor beautiful Spanish women burned down by evil clerics. Don't worry: it does not happen only with Spain, but when they film about Alexander the Great, Troy, the Odyssey, Hercules, Caesar, Attila the Hun etc. Looks like they don't mind reality but just their own ideas about that reality.

I think we're clearly seeing some cases of Xenotheophobia here.

As Vladimir Samarin has pointed out, Christianity has also been noted historically for starting wars "in the name of Christ", most notably the Crusades.

The most appropriate quote on this whole subject would be (gasp) Hillary Clinton's "In every religion, there are those who would drape themselves in the mantle of belief and faith only to distort it's most sacred teachings -- preaching intolerance and resorting to violence."

As someone who personally knows several Muslims, and has even been invited and attended their weddings and some of their family functions, I can say that the extremists in the Middle East such as the Taliban and Al-Qaeda are not representative of the Muslim population as a whole.

Extremists are not to be tolerated, and indeed should be dealt with, but one must remember that a vocal few can paint a negative picture of the many. Just as the "devout" mouthpieces of the Taliban paint a poor picture of the country they supposedly represent, statements like Ann Coulter's "We should invade their countries, kill their leaders, and convert them to Christianity." don't paint an accurate picture of the right, only the far extremist right.

When I was in grad school in the 80's, one of my fellow students in the Electrical Engineering department was a brilliant man (who now lives in California) who was from Iran, we also played sports together on an intra-mural team, and were good friends. He explained the problems of the Middle East and some of it's hostility towards the west beautifully:

(I'm going to use quotes here, even though I am paraphrasing from memory)

"Of course the Middle East is troubled right now. Many of our nations, even though theoretically thousands of years old, are in their infancy when it comes to the modern world. Jordan? Only achieved independence since 1948. Iran? 1979 was the Islamic revolution, but the country was unstable since 1941 when it was invaded by Britain and the USSR during the second World War. Israel? 1948. Pakistan? 1947. Afghanistan? 1919, but had to fight off the Soviets as well, to say nothing of the former Middle East countries who did succumb to Soviet expansion. Iraq? 1932.

It is an area in it's collective National infancies, and many of the borders that exist were thrust upon it by the West with little understanding of the religious, ethnic, or cultural make-up of the area. Think about how long it took the United States to define itself? Did you just write the declaration of independence in 1776 and have 50 instant states? No. You fought wars against Britain, you fought wars against Mexico, you fought a war against yourself North and South, and after some 200 years you eventually had a stable nation.

In the Middle East, we are just now facing some of the problems that you encountered in your first 50 years. Some cultural areas were split in two, others were placed next to life long enemies? In some cases, areas that had belonged to one tribe for thousands of years were suddenly given to another tribe. It is no wonder that the area is a mess, and resentful of the West's role in creating that mess.

Furthermore, many of the countries are resentful of the West's prior colonialism in the region, and it's continued involvement now. Companies from Western countries have come in and obtained contracts to pump the oil from the Middle East, but where to the profits go? Back to the West, meanwhile many of our countries struggle to give our children decent education, and with a lack of education, our children become ripe and gullible to the edicts of extremism.

For example, American warships patrol the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean. To many it is an obvious sign of Imperialism. Why are these ships there? How would America feel if Iranian ships were to patrol the Gulf of Mexico? They would be outraged. What would Iranian ships be doing half a world away in a body of water they have no business in? It is the same thing here. Even if the ships do no harm, Iranian leaders can point towards the American ships and say "See! They are encroaching on our territory and want do to us harm!" and who can say they aren't correct?

Dealing with our national infancies is already difficult enough, nevermind having western corporations and armies interfering within our territories! Add on top of that the problem of religion, and you can see that it is an awful mess. Religiously we are divided, Shi'a and Sunni, and people say "Look! It is a religion that cannot even get along with itself" and yet, weren't there many wars between Catholics and Protestants?

Just because you have painted your glass house does not mean you can throw a stone at someone else's."

Well written Andrew. I agree with you wholeheartedly. I have been saying for ages - how would America feel if someone came along and divided it up, invaded and occupied it, etc? Wouldn't they start fighting back? Any country and the population would feel the same.

Why do people refuse to see that?

It all boils down to this - there are good people and bad people in this world - and it's got nothing to do with religion and you also cannot judge based on their religion either.

In summary:
The original posts all had had to do with voting for a true Christian or not - basically.

Perhaps religion is a very small issue in this case, but there are more important priorities to be considered when voting - like how to pull America back from it's financial ruin and too many wars stretching the military and finances to breaking point, etc, etc.

Finally - perhaps Obama changes what he says like the weather - but so does McCain and so has Bush and almost every politician I know - that is why they are politicians. Lets not pretend that they are Jesus or something.
PS - if anyone requires it, I'll provide proof of the lies Bush, McCain and Obama have spoken - it's a no brainier, but perhaps to save me the time just look it up on youtube.

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[From DR -- My goodness, so many interesting comments on this thread! Immediately above, you offer to provide "proof of the lies that Bush, McCain and Obama have spoken."

PLEASE DO!
If it's well referenced and logically reasoned, I would be glad to publish it. You can post it here on this thread as a comment, and I will copy and paste it into a FULL POSTING, with your name on it. Please keep the text of your comment to 500 words or less. I know that sounds tough, but people generally don't want to read long things on the web. You should be able to do it if you stick to the worst cases. In addition to the text, please provide web links to your references. I look forward to posting your comment! -- Pro Patria]

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