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But according to a new poll, one in five Americans think that he is:

Americans increasingly are convinced — incorrectly — that President Barack Obama is a Muslim, and a growing number are thoroughly confused about his religion. Nearly one in five people, or 18 per cent, said they think Obama is Muslim, up from the 11 per cent who said so in March 2009, according to a poll released Thursday. The proportion who correctly say he is a Christian is down to just 34 per cent.

Some of this could be considered backlash for Obama’s apparent cardinal sin in promoting the principle of freedom of religion with respect to the plans to build a mosque in downtown NYC, near the World Trade Center site. Because everyone knows that the US is a Christian theocracy, and the Constitution be damned. And of course, freedom of religion simply means freedom to practice the “right” religion.

But between the conspiracy theorists who don’t believe Obama is American, the racists who question whether he’s black, white or purple, and now the growing segment of Americans who want to make an issue of his religion, you have to wonder where the percentage of Americans are who would honestly say that they do not care.

Why should Americans be so afraid of electing a non-Christian anyway?

It’s an obvious fallout of a culture that emphasizes that the personal is political, and that not only tolerates but expects its leaders to put personal religious conviction ahead of public interest when making decisions. The arguments haven’t changed much since Kennedy – a Catholic (gasp!) was elected in 1960. Separation of Church and State? Hogwash. They want a leader who is seen going to church and quoting the bible in speeches. Which is why any hint, suggestion or misconception about Obama is such a big story.

Us Canadians, in contrast, have a stronger tradition of making the distinction between the personal and the political. Jean Chrétien was a Catholic prime minister who refused to bow to religious pressure when passing legislation for same-sex marriage, for example. We expect our politicians to have personal lives that are just that – personal.

Barack Obama is Christian, not Muslim. But it would be nice to think that maybe one day, Americans would be happy to elect a Muslim president. Or a Jewish one. Or a Buddhist one. Or – imagine – an atheist one. Oh, the horror!

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No disrespect intended here, but isn’t idol worship prohibited by Christianity?

A Ten Commandments monument at the center of a bitter dispute over the constitutional separation of church and state was removed from public view on Wednesday in Alabama’s state judicial building.

[ . . . ]

Some protesters were distraught over the removal of the monument. One protester screamed “Put it back, put it back” as others in front of the judicial building tried to calm him down.

I mean, it’s a monument. It’s a piece of granite. And while I believe that separation of church and state means that it has no place in a judicial building, normally I can see the other side of the argument too. But in this case, it’s people worshipping a big rock. That’s their right, of course, but I was under the (perhaps mistaken) impression that it went against their religion too.


Strange bedfellows


Isi Lieber, the senior Vice-President of the WJC, writes a glowing editorial singing the praises of Israel’s new friends, Evangelical Christians: Now it has suddenly dawned on us that there are probably 60 million Evangelical Christians in the United States and that they represent our staunchest supporters and friends. In fact, in recent years concern […]

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Palestinian anti-Christian discrimination


The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs has published a report by David Raab about the systematic discrimination against Christians in Palestinian-controlled areas. However, the reality of Christianity under Islam has often been difficult. “Over the centuries, political Islam has not been too kind to the native Christian communities living under its rule. Anecdotes of tolerance […]

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