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In Theory: Does president's religion matter?

September 03, 2010

The American public's questions and doubts about President Barack Obama's religion continue to dog him nearly two years after his election. For example, a new poll by the Pew Research Center shows that nearly 1 in 5 Americans believe that Obama is a Muslim, although in fact he is a Christian. According to the Pew survey, the percentage of Americans thinking that he is a Muslim increased from 12% to 18% between March 2008 and August 2010, while the percentage of those thinking that he is a Christian dropped from 47% to 34% during that period. As a religious/spiritual commentator in the community, does it alarm you that so many Americans are ignorant about Obama's faith, and should it really matter whether the commander in chief is Muslim, Christian or religious at all?

The statistics reported by Pew Research should cause a certain fright because a healthy democratic country requires an electorate that is well-informed and of serious intent. But in this case there is abysmal ignorance. Worse yet is that there are persons and entities that are deliberately propagating not only misinformation but are calloused in their disregard for truth and are manipulative of the public.

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"If you live according to my teaching, you are my disciples; then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free," said Jesus.

The person who sets aside truth is enslaved in ignorance.

In politics it is fair and necessary to engage in vigorous debate. One can choose to disagree or disagree with platforms, policies and laws — and should be able to provide cogent reasons for positions taken. But character assassination, such as is being engaged in by some in disagreement with our president (or anyone else), is ethically and morally wrong. It is the tactic of small-minded persons.

If the president were a Muslim, which he is not, would that mean he is inclined to terrorism? This is an absurdity. Choosing to live in darkness and venality is asphyxiating.

Msgr. Wilbur Davis

Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Church

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