Thursday, May 26, 2011

Why I don't think Barack Obama's a Muslim

A friend of mine recently e-mailed me a link to a video on YouTube which he feels gives evidence that Barack Obama is in fact a Muslim. I disagreed with him and pointed to Obama's social policy, particularly his advocacy of homosexuality (evidence here). This is not compatible with Islam, which punishes homosexuality with the death penalty. On the other hand there is one solution that takes all the evidence into account, and that is that Obama is a liberal protestant. I have heard a liberal minister in a British chapel say that "Christians should reverence Mohammed." There was no doubt that the man was not a Muslim, yet he used a service on Ascension day to bewail the fact that Christians did not accept Mohammed as a prophet. Liberals, as we have been reminded by the recent actions of the Church of Scotland and the PCUSA, are accepting of and even promote homosexuality. So, if Obama is a Muslim his promoting homosexuality is inexplicable, but if he is a liberal protestant - which, it must be remembered, is his own testimony - then everything makes sense, it fits.

The reply I received was rather surprising to me, it was in effect "he's hiding the truth". Given that Obama has actually said "I am a Christian", we would have to say that if he is really a Muslim, he is flat out lying most of the time and pretending to be a Christian with a foolishly high level of respect for Islam. We would have to say that he attended Chicago's Trinity UCC for many years as part of an elaborate deception. That make him more than just a liberal Muslim, it would necessitate the conclusion that he is really a villain masquerading as a liberal. It would require him to really be a radical playing a part in order to further Muslim ends. Now of course if you think that he is really a Kenyan-born Islamic extremist who has been systematically infiltrating the Democratic party to further Muslim aims to dominate America, that would make sense, but for myself, I find this hard to believe, given how flimsy the evidence is. It's on a level with believing that the World Trade Centre was not really brought down by a terrorist attack. If you adopt a conspiratorial view of history you can of course believe all sorts of things on the flimsiest of evidence, but I am not sure that this is a good idea. In effect that is to say, "Because of this tiny amount of evidence here (which can still be explained if he is, as he claims to be, a protestant liberal) we should ignore everything else as just deliberate deception and conclude that he is a Muslim."

I'm afraid I can't do that. It is incumbent on us to examine all the evidence, not just that which agrees with our conclusions. To dismiss his voting record on homosexuality as a deception, to claim that his record as "the most liberal senator" is a smokescreen, seems to me a little perverse.

The claim has been made, "well, look at all the things Obama's said about Islam!" Look at these quotes:

"America treasures the relationship we have with our many Muslim friends, and we respect the vibrant faith of Islam which inspires countless individuals to lead lives of honesty, integrity, and morality. This year, may Eid also be a time in which we recognize the values of progress, pluralism, and acceptance that bind us together as a Nation and a global community. By working together to advance mutual understanding, we point the way to a brighter future for all."

"Islam brings hope and comfort to millions of people in my country, and to more than a billion people worldwide. Ramadan is also an occasion to remember that Islam gave birth to a rich civilization of learning that has benefited mankind."

"Ours is a war not against a religion, not against the Muslim faith."

"We see in Islam a religion that traces its origins back to God's call on Abraham."

"All Americans must recognize that the face of terror is not the true faith -- face of Islam. Islam is a faith that brings comfort to a billion people around the world. It's a faith that has made brothers and sisters of every race. It's a faith based upon love, not hate."

The answer, of course, is President George W. Bush! The quotes, with many others, can be found here. I suspect that for every pro-Islam Obama quote that can be found we can find a very similar Bush quote - yet no-one is claiming that George W. Bush is a secret Muslim.

I do not know why there are people I regard as otherwise sensible who wish to believe that Barack Obama is in fact a Kenyan-born radical Muslim masquerading as a liberal protestant born in Hawaii. It truly baffles me that anyone would protest that the Hawaii certificate produced by Obama is an obvious fake and then, in the same e-mail promote a couple of clumsy forgeries claiming to be from Kenya as absolutely genuine!If you dismiss the Hawaii certificate (and I am not entering into the question of whether that is genuine or not), you must also dismiss the Kenya certificates.

Conspiracy theories are a form of false world-view, whether they make the great enemy Islam, Roman Catholicism, or the New Age movement. Instead of dealing with the world as it is the conspiracy theorist interprets evidence based on the conspiracy - the conspiracy becomes to him or her the necessary presupposition of his or her thought. Thus the interpretation of facts becomes a sort of game, one is required to "read between the lines", to take sentence fragments out of context, and even to weave them together into new contexts, because the true "context" is the conspiracy. That's not how you do research, that's how Harold Camping was able to say that we can know the date of the end of the world.

And where do you stop? Logically you end up with a vast, world-wide conspiracy, everything that happens is orchestrated by them, and the conspiracy theory becomes un-falsifiable. The conspiracy theorist's world becomes a private construct in which nothing is as it appears. In other words, taken to their logical conclusion conspiracy theories end in madness. Now, I am not saying that all conspiracy theorists are crazy, because most people who hold to some sort of conspiracy theory are inconsistent at some point. It is, however, dangerous, partly because it leads us to take our eyes off the ball. All the world's evils are not the result of Rome, Jack Chick (Jack Chick thinks that the Roman Catholics invented Islam, by the way), there are atheists, there are secular tyrants. The world to more complicated - but God is on the throne.

I don't think Barack Obama is a Muslim because there isn't enough evidence that he is, and the evidence that he is not is far more compelling. That's not the same as saying he's a fine upstanding Christian man - he isn't, he's a theological liberal from the Protestant tradition. It's certainly not the same as saying I think he's wonderful - I don't. But it is to say that I cannot accept the conspiracy theories!

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