by Frank James
Chicago Tribune religion writer and blogger Manya Brachear asks this question on her blog, The Seeker: in underscoring that he is a Christian, should Sen. Barack Obama go further?
When he upholds his Christianity, should he emphasize for those who are Muslims and those who aren't, that there's nothing wrong with being Muslim?
The repeated and false claims that Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is a closet Muslim have prompted the candidate to reiterate that he is a committed Christian.
But he stops short of saying that being Muslim wouldn’t be a bad thing. In addition to setting the record straight about his own faith, should Obama also give a shout-out to his Muslim brothers and sisters and defend Islam?
Good question. Manya continues:
...But after a year of rumors, some Muslims say it’s time for Obama to take his response a step further and remind voters that his religion shouldn’t matter. They say he should take the opportunity to point out that Islam is one of the many religious traditions that makes America great.
“At this point, he should call out people’s bigotry,” said Salam al-Marayati, executive director of The Muslim Public Affairs Council. He and other religious leaders defended Obama when the rumor mill first fired up last year. A letter signed by 11 Jewish, Christian and Muslim leaders denounced the rumors as a calculated attempt to “divide us as children of God.”
As the attacks continue, though, Obama should denounce “this kind of religious litmus test in politics which is anathema to our Bill of Rights and reframe the conversation,” al-Marayati said. Being labeled a Muslim isn't an insult, he said.
A source familiar with the Obama campaign said that’s unlikely to happen. It’s not the Muslim characterization that bothers Obama. It’s that his faith, which plays a significant role in his life, has been mischaracterized. Period.
“The primary goal is truth,” the source said. “It’s important to set the record straight.”