Not Quite Muslim; Not Quite Christian
When Barack Obama looked Americans in the metaphoric eye and told them he was not and was never a Muslim, he had, admittedly, been worshipping at the Trinity United Church of Christ for twenty odd years. So we know for certain that he is not a Christian.
Obama's voodoo theology aside, do we know with the same certainty that he was never Muslim?
On the Muslim matter, mainstream media issued a fatwa early in the favorite son's campaign. They ruled that you'd have to be a total troglodyte to entertain such a preposterous proposition as Obama being a Muslim. The New Yorker later lampooned the mouth breathers who dared to assume that being born to a Muslim father made Obama a Muslim.
But the New Yorker got a little carried away, depicting the Obamas in full regalia, fist bumping under a portrait of Osama. He is in a Muslim Mumu, she is accoutered like a terrorist—with an AK-47 and a Black Panther's afro, except that Michelle's mien is far less furrowed and ferocious than it usually is. The American flag burns in the background.
The portrait—it warms the cockles of one's heart—was meant to satirize those hick-rubes who thought, it would seem correctly, that Obama was once a Muslim. You see, despite what the babes in nosebags say about Islam's great deference to women, in Islam, the father's faith determines that of the child. It's the opposite in Judaism. In their sagacity, Jewish scholars had ruled that the mother's faith would decide the child's. The idea was "to link the child inseparably to the mother."
For seriously investigating the Muslim matter, Daniel Pipes, a scholar of the Middle East and Islam, has endured many swipes. Nevertheless, Dr. Pipes' points obtain. Obama's patrilineal ties to Islam—Muslim father and grandfather—make him a Muslim by birth. And "only Muslim children are named 'Hussein.'" Obama was enrolled at school in Indonesia as a Muslim. As such, confirms a Los Angeles Times investigation, the young Obama would have had to "learn about Islam for two hours each week in religion class."
Then there is Obama's stepfather—he too was Muslim, if not particularly devout. Together they attended mosque infrequently for prayer, where the family would also convene for other events. Nicholas D. Kristof of the New York Times has attested that Obama "recalled the opening lines of the Arabic call to prayer, reciting them [to Kristof] with a first-rate accent." (Which means that on his next divinely buttressed trip to Berlin, Obama can do the muazzin's dues from one of the city's minarets.)
To claim, as Obama has, that he has always been Christian and had never practiced Islam is, then, not quite so. For a few formative years, Obama had a moderate, "Muslim upbringing under the auspices of his Indonesian step-father." More material, from the fact that Obama has never been a practicing Muslim, it doesn't follow that he was not a Muslim by birth. I can't renounce my Judaism because irreligious, now can I? For truth's sake, Obama ought to have said this: "I was a Muslim by accident of birth. No more."
Having converted, Obama might be considered what in Islam is known as a murtadd, an apostate—a person who was born a Muslim and abandoned the faith. That would certainly make Obama unique in American presidential history. But then Obama, if elected, will be the first post-American president.
Just up Obama's alley is The Post-American World, Fareed Zakaria's indubitably dull new book. Looking dapper, Obama has been photographed carrying the thing around. Therein, the singularly charmless Zakaria laments America's "do-nothing" political process as a hindrance to regaining global greatness. This is, of course, untrue. American ingenuity is being suffocated by an over-energetic State. Equally "original" is Zakaria's urging of endless immigration and internationalism. In other words, Zakaria would like "to see Obama hot-dogging it in Berlin with that John Lennon speech," as the singularly charming Pat Buchanan put it so splendidly.
If elected, Obama will also be the first post-Christian president.
Christian doctrine decrees that embracing Jesus Christ as personal savior is the only road to redemption. Jesus said "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." Obama disagrees. He, the Holy Son, says: "There are many paths to the same place." Is that Christianity? Apparently so in post-Christian America.
Hussein's a hip hybrid: not quite Muslim; not quite Christian. And if elected, he'll be the first post-American president in a post-Christian America.
©BY ILANA MERCER
August 1, 2008