Behind Obama Muslim myth stands the right wing


Two recently released polls show that an increasing number of Americans believe the falsehood that President Obama is a Muslim. According to the Pew Research Center, 60 percent of people who believe this false claim cite the media as the source of that information -- and, indeed, the right-wing media have incessantly promoted this lie.

Pew, Time polls find that an increasing number of Americans believe Obama is a Muslim

Pew: Nearly "one-in-five Americans" now say Obama is a Muslim. On August 18, the Pew Research Center released a survey on Obama and religion, conducted in early August. The poll found that "nearly one-in-five Americans (18%) now say Obama is a Muslim, up from 11% in March 2009," while "[o]nly about one-third of adults (34%) say Obama is a Christian, down sharply from 48% in 2009." The survey also found that "43% say they do not know what Obama's religion is." Pew went on to state: "The view that Obama is a Muslim is more widespread among his political opponents than among his backers." It also added:

When asked how they learned about Obama's religion in an open-ended question, 60% of those who say Obama is a Muslim cite the media. Among specific media sources, television (at 16%) is mentioned most frequently. About one-in-ten (11%) of those who say Obama is a Muslim say they learned of this through Obama's own words and behavior.

Time: 24 percent of Americans believe Obama is a Muslim. In a poll also released on August 18, Time magazine, in conjunction with polling firm ABT/SRBI, found that 24 percent of Americans believe Obama is a Muslim. Time stated that "just 47% of respondents believe Obama is a Christian; 24% declined to respond to the question or said they were unsure, and 5% believe he is neither Christian nor Muslim."

Right wing media relentlessly drive Obama-Muslim falsehood

Right-wing media have relentlessly pushed the myth that Obama is a Muslim. In the past two years, the conservative media have continued to lie about Obama's personal history, dishonestly distorting his faith to claim that he is in fact a Muslim and not a Christian. Those untruths have run the gamut -- from outright claiming that Obama is a Muslim to alleging that he "is a Christian that Christians don't recognize"; from using his family and upbringing in Indonesia to portray him as an "Islamist" to claiming he has an agenda that shows he has a "preference of Islam over Christianity"; and from distorting comments Obama or his administration has made to picking out symbols associated with his administration to perpetuate the lie about his faith. Conservatives have even used the Pew and Time polls today to further rehash these falsehoods.

Right-wing rhetoric: Obama is a Muslim

Limbaugh: "There might be reasons why some people think" Obama is a Muslim. On his August 19 radio show, Rush Limbaugh, who lately has taken to calling Obama "Imam Obama", said: "Has Obama ever called Muslims 'bitter clingers'? Well, he's called Christians 'bitter clingers.' He did that in San Francisco. I'm just throwing these things out here, folks, because people are questioning his Christianity. Some think he's a Muslim. I'm just saying there might be reasons why some people think this." Limbaugh also said during the same show, "If it was OK, and even laudatory, to call Bill Clinton America's first black president, why can't we call Imam Obama America's first Muslim president?"

Right-wing runs with dubious claim that Obama admitted "I am a Muslim." Conservatives pushed an unsubstantiated claim that Obama admitted to Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit that he is a Muslim, with G. Gordon Liddy stating that it comes under the heading "suspicions confirmed." Right-wing commentator Pamela Geller went even further and put the words "I am a Muslim" in quotation marks and attributed the statement to Obama in the title of a blog post hyping the rumor.

Wash. Times' Kuhner: Obama is a "cultural Muslim." In a July 8 Washington Times op-ed, Jeffrey Kuhner wrote that Obama is "betraying the Jews" and that he "is a cultural Muslim whose sympathies lie with the Islamic world in its life-death struggle against Israel."

Geller: Obama's Pearl comments were "spoken like an" "antisemitic Muslim terrorist." In a May 18 post, Geller wrote of Obama's comments on the signing of the Daniel Pearl Freedom of the Press Act: "The Daniel Pearl beheading 'captured the world's imagination' -- spoken like an ..........antisemitic Muslim terrorist. Pearl was beheaded (GRAPHIC VIDEO) because of Islamic anti-semitism and violent jihadi doctrine. Freedom of the press had nothing to do with it. And this coming from a plant who is attempting to restrict these freedoms and speech." In fact, Obama was honoring Pearl in his comments.

Quinn on Obama: "I think he's a Muslim." Seizing on reports that Obama had gone golfing on Christmas Day 2009, Jim Quinn said on his radio show: "I know that it's very impolitic to bring this up but I think he's a Muslim. Sorry, I do." Quinn, who has also repeatedly suggested Obama is Muslim, said of Obama on his February 26 radio show, "You've got a nexus here of angry black nationalism" and "whose entire family is Muslim."

Geller calls Obama "the Muslim president." Geller's blog contains 267 posts tagged, "Muslim in the White House?" In a June 2, 2009, post, Geller called Obama "The Muslim president." Calling it a "critical issue," Geller wrote in January 2008 that "Obama went to a madrassa in Jakarta," that "he practiced Islam," and that "if Obama makes it to the big house, Israel is screwed. Finished." On May 30, 2009, Geller wrote that with his Cairo speech, Obama "proved everything I said to be true." In fact, CNN debunked the "madrassa" falsehood in January of 2007, and as Newsweek stated, "Barack Obama has never been Muslim and never practiced Islam."

Fox News' Special Report asks of Obama: "Islam or Isn't He?" During a June 4, 2009, segment, Fox News' Special Report aired a quote by Obama national security official Denis McDonough, in which he talked about how Obama "experienced Islam on three continents" and grew up in Indonesia with a Muslim father, and asked: "Islam or Isn't He?"

Savage: Obama is "an unknown stealth candidate" who "in fact, was a Muslim." Michael Savage falsely asserted that Obama was a Muslim and attended a madrassa, saying: "Look who we inherited in this country, from Dwight D. Eisenhower to Barack Hussein Obama, in one generation. A war hero to -- a war hero who commanded the Allied operations against Nazi Germany was running for the presidency then. Now we have an unknown stealth candidate who went to a madrassas in Indonesia and, in fact, was a Muslim."

KSFO's Rodgers: Obama "admits in one of his own books" that he would "stand with the Muslims" against "the Western world." Repeating a false allegation from a chain email, Lee Rodgers falsely claimed Obama "admits in one of his own books" that "in case of a confrontation between the Western world and the Islamic world, he will stand with the Muslims." In fact, what Obama wrote in his 2006 book, The Audacity of Hope, according to, "is that he would stand with American immigrants from Pakistan or Arab countries should they be faced with something like the forced detention of Japanese-American families in World War II."

Conservative radio hosts seize on Obama comment to revive false rumors about his faith. During the 2008 campaign, numerous conservative talk-radio hosts selectively highlighted Obama's assertion, which he immediately clarified, that "John McCain has not talked about my Muslim faith" to revive rumors that he is a Muslim, not a Christian. For example, Chris Baker claimed that Obama's comment was "obviously a Freudian slip" and stated, "He confessed. It's over." Savage described Obama as a "Muslim stealth candidate" and stated: "I have nothing against moderate Muslims. ... The question is, why is he covering up his Muslim faith?"

Right-wing rhetoric: Obama's Christian faith is not Christianity

Limbaugh: "Obama says he's a Christian but where's the evidence?" On his August 19 radio show, Limbaugh used Pew's findings to repeat the claim that NASA administrator Charles Bolden's recent comments on Muslim outreach show Obama "turned NASA over to a Muslim outreach program." Limbaugh went on to say: "The guy holds an Easter egg roll -- the White House website promoting the Easter egg roll does not mention Jesus or Christ. It talks about environmentalism. Obama says he's a Christian but where's the evidence?" Limbaugh also brought up Rev. Jeremiah Wright's church to cast doubt on Obama's Christian faith, saying, "Reverend Wright's church is a weird brand of Christianity. The Reverend Wright's church -- black theology is what comes out of that pulpit, which is not exactly mainstream Christianity."

Beck on Obama: "I think he is a Christian that Christians don't recognize." On his August 19 radio show, Glenn Beck addressed the findings of the Time poll, saying, "Here's the problem with this. I find that a disturbing poll because I don't think -- I think that is the easy answer for people who are like, 'Well, it doesn't make sense. Nothing makes sense.' And I think the easy thing is to say, 'I think he's a Muslim.' I don't -- I really don't. I think he is a Christian that Christians don't recognize." Beck went on to claim that because "social justice activists" in the media have so distorted Christianity, "no one is explaining why Barack Obama doesn't feel right." Beck also used the fact that Obama attended Wright's church to further confuse the issue, saying of Obama: "When he did get Jesus, he got it from Jeremiah Wright. This is liberation theology. ... So the story of Jesus takes on a whole different light."

Beck: Obama's comments show "contempt for the Scriptures." On his August 19 show, Beck and his co-hosts attacked Obama for comments he made about the Bible that they said show "a lack of understanding" and that are "not Christianity." Beck went on to claim that Obama's comments are "such a distortion" and "shows contempt for the Scriptures." Beck added that Obama's Christianity "is again liberation theology," and his comments were "his understanding of distorted Christianity."

Tennent: "You can't vote for [Obama] and be a Christian. ... You're going to be held accountable for this vote." On the radio show she co-hosts with Jim Quinn, Rose Tennent read an email from a listener who criticized her statement that "I don't think you can be a Christian and vote for Barack Obama," replying: "I've said it on this show, too. I really don't believe you can be. You can't vote for him and be a Christian at the same time. You can't." Tennent went on to say: "I'm not judging; I'm laying out the facts. ... You know, you're going to be held accountable for this vote. If you voted for Barack Obama and you call yourself a person of faith, you will be held accountable for that vote. I believe that with all of my heart."

Quinn: Obama "says he's a Christian but I've never seen him in a Christian church." After saying that he believed Obama is a Muslim, Quinn stated: "What am I to think when he says to George Stephanopoulos, 'Nobody has criticized my Muslim faith,' and Stephanopoulos says, 'You mean, Christian.' And he, 'Oh, yeah, yeah, Christian faith.' What am I to make of a guy who says he's a Christian but I've never seen him in a Christian church?" Quinn continued: "And don't give me the Reverend Wright, because the Reverend Wright's church isn't Christian. The Reverend Wright's church is black liberation theology and that is a conveyor belt for Marxism. And by the way, wasn't the Reverend Wright a follower of Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam?" He concluded: "I mean, if I got questions here, does that make me a bad guy?"

Right-wing rhetoric: Obama is an "Islamist" and prefers Islam over Christianity

McCarthy's book a collection of recycled Obama "Islamist" smears. In his book The Grand Jihad, Andrew McCarthy invokes numerous smears, myths, and falsehoods to portray Obama as an "Islamist." Among the claims included were that Obama is not a Muslim, but has "Islamist sympathies," which "run deep"; that Obama "seem[s] ... disposed" to "advance the cause of Islam in the world"; that he does not like "America as it is"; and that his agenda "jibes perfectly with the Islamist scheme to destroy America from within."

WorldNetDaily" Obama has a "fealty toward Islam." In a column, contributor Pieder Beeli purported to do "an inferential or forensic analysis" of Obama by analyzing "what is implied rather than what is explicitly stated." Using a litany of lies and attacks, including the claim that "I have not heard Obama affirm the central Christian tenet, 'The love of God was revealed to us on the cross of Jesus Christ.' " Beeli came to the conclusion that Obama has a "preference of Islam over Christianity," adding that "his fealty toward Islam and multiculturalism far exceed his fealty toward Christianity.

Geller: Obama "wants jihad to win. That's what he is doing." In an April 1 blog post titled, "President Jihad: Obama Encouraged Violent Palestinian Muslim protests against Israel," Geller claimed Obama "is agitating Muslims against Jews" and stated, "The President of the United States is advancing jihad against the oath of office that he took." Geller also stated in an April 11 post, "President Sarkozy called [Obama] 'a madman,' 'a lunatic.' Perhaps, I don't know -- but one thing is for sure: Hussein is a muhammadan. He's not insane ...........he wants jihad to win. That's what he is doing. Of course, to the western mind, the rational mind, the logical mind, the American mind, that is insane." Responding to reports that Guantánamo Bay detainees may be housed at the Thomson Correctional Center in Illinois, Geller wrote: "Obama is bringing his jihad to Illinois."

Gaffney in Wash. Times: "[I]t increasingly appears" Obama "will be embracing the agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood." In a Washington Times column, Frank Gaffney criticized Obama's "Respect Islam" campaign, writing: "President Obama on Friday reiterated for the umpteenth time his determination to develop a 'new relationship' with the Muslim world. On this occasion, the audience were the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and the Philippines. Unfortunately, it increasingly appears that, in so doing, he will be embracing the agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood -- an organization dedicated to promoting the theo-political-legal program authoritative Islam calls Shariah and that has the self-described mission of 'destroying Western civilization from within.' "

Hinderaker on Obama: "We're not sure who he is, exactly, but he certainly isn't one of us." In an August 19 post on his Powerline blog, John Hinderaker criticized the Associated Press for its article on the Pew poll, which stated that "Americans increasingly are convinced -- incorrectly -- that President Barack Obama is a Muslim, and a growing number are thoroughly confused about his religion." Hinderaker suggested the AP was editorializing in pointing out Obama is not a Muslim, writing: "I love that 'incorrectly.' The AP has evolved into an opinion machine, so it's rare and a little startling to see it stand up so boldly for a 'fact.' He's not a Muslim, dammit!" He added: "We're not sure who he is, exactly, but he certainly isn't one of us. Given the currents that swirl through world events these days, being a Muslim is one interpretation of Obama's exoticism."

Right-wing rhetoric: Symbols associated with Obama admin look "Islamic"

Conservatives see Islamic symbols in Obama administration logos. Fox News and the conservative media seized on the official logo of the Nuclear Security Summit to claim its image "looks like" an Islamic crescent. However, as Comedy Central's Jon Stewart noted, "the inspiration for the logo is actually the Rutherford-Bohr Model of the atom that we all learned about in high school."

NY Post's Goodwin: "[N]ot a coincidence" nuclear summit logo features "[t]he kind of crescent moon you see on the flags of Muslim countries." In his April 14 New York Post column, Michael Goodwin wrote that the logo "reminded" him of "a crescent moon," the "kind of crescent moon you see on the flags of Muslim countries." He added: "Indeed, the crescent, often with a single or multiple stars, is the main symbol of Islam. So now there is something like it at an official presidential event, prominently displayed in photographs being beamed around the world." While Goodwin claimed that he was "not suggesting President Obama is a secret Muslim," he wrote: "But I am certain the crescent-like design of the logo is not a coincidence, especially at an event where Iran's nuclear ambition and al Qaeda's search for a bomb are prime topics."

Fox & Friends sees "Muslim image" in summit logo. On the April 14 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-hosts Brian Kilmeade and Gretchen Carlson discussed Goodwin's column, with Kilmeade saying: "When I first saw this logo, I wasn't really thinking this, but upon further review, perhaps I should have been. And that is, if you look at the Nuclear Security Summit logo, what does that have in common with all those other flags there representing Muslim nations?" Showing images of flags, Carlson replied: "That's the same thing that you see on the flags of Turkey, Algeria, Tunisia, and Pakistan, and what do they all have in common? They're all Muslim nations." Carlson then stated that Goodwin's claim is that Obama "deliberately put this as a logo to try and continue his outreach to Muslim nations in a positive way," adding that at "the same time, he points out in his article that we're not going to say terms like 'Jihad' anymore or 'Islamic extremists' anymore. So you be the judge." During the segment, Fox featured text that read: "Curious Crescent Logo: Summit Symbol Similar to Muslim Image" and "Islamic Image? Summit Design Looks Like Crescent Moon."

Jim Hoft: "That's weird?... Obama's nuclear summit logo is an Islamic crest." In an April 14 post on his Gateway Pundit blog titled, "That's Weird?... Obama's Nuclear Summit Logo Is an Islamic Crest," Jim Hoft repeatedly asserted that it's "weird" that "Obama's nuclear summit logo is an Islamic crest." Other right-wing blogs, including Evil Conservative and Right Side News, also claimed that "the Nuclear Security Summit logo looks an awful lot like an Islamic crescent."

Error Theory: "Nuclear Summit logo uses an Islamic-shaped crescent." In an April 13 post on the Error Theory blog, also featured at Free Republic, Alec Rawls claimed that it "is hard to believe that the State Department" could use "an Islamic-shaped crescent" for the Nuclear Security Summit "by accident," asserting: "Maybe our State Department really is this ignorant, but more likely, as in the case of Fort Hood mass murderer Nidal Hasan, nobody was willing to make an issue of anything connected to Islam, no matter how disturbing, for fear of committing. career suicide. After all, Obama has commanded all of his underlings to be as oblivious to Islam as possible."

Gaffney: "Can This Possibly Be True? New Obama Missile Defense Logo Includes A Crescent." In February, after the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) redesigned its logo, media conservatives compared the new design to the Islamic crescent. In a February 24 BigGovernment post, Frank Gaffney called the "symbolic action" "nefarious," writing that "the new MDA shield appears ominously to reflect a morphing of the Islamic crescent and star with the Obama campaign logo," and that "Team Obama is behaving in a way that -- as the new MDA logo suggests -- is all about accommodating that 'Islamic Republic' and its ever-more aggressive stance." Gaffney concluded: "Watch this space as we identify and consider various, ominous and far more clear-cut acts of submission to Shariah by President Obama and his team." Gaffney later issued a correction. "Others have noted that [missile defense logo] has a crescent and star design, evoking a common symbol for Islam." In a February 24 article, acknowledged that the MDA logo "first appeared" on the MDA website "in the fall," nonetheless reported claims that the logo was "strikingly" and "scarily" similar to Obama's 2008 campaign logo, adding that "[o]thers have noted that it has a crescent and star design, evoking a common symbol for Islam." In a Special Report segment, anchor Bret Baier cited an MDA statement calling the claims "ridiculous," and that the new logo is "for recruiting in the public website and was developed almost three years ago" and "has no link to any political campaign." Baier also noted: "The Washington Times points out that the red, white, and blue symbol looks strangely similar to Barack Obama's campaign 'O' from 2008."

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