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October 27, 2012 by William H. Scarle, Jr.

Barack Obama is the forty-fourth President of the United States.  Most of our Presidents have had some religious affiliation, and it is a varied catalogue.  Six of our Presidents had no denominational affiliation while in office.  They would be Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, Ulysses Grant, Rutherford Hayes and Barack Obama.  Four of our Presidents were Unitarians, including the Adams family, John and John Quincy.  Millard Fillmore and William Howard Taft were also Unitarian. The Episcopalians have the record with twelve.   In these last two weeks prior to the national election I want to take a look at the religious connections of our two candidates.

It should be clear from the above paragraph that there is no partisan agenda here.  Religious interest is simply a part of who we are, and this is a religious column.   We shy away from discussing the subject for fear of being seen as biased or even prejudiced, but this demeans religion as a meaningful part of life.  It is not a determining factor in an election, but it is an important factor in life.

Barack Obama was born to a Moslem father and a Christian mother.  However, his Moslem father had become an atheist, and his Christian mother had become a secularist.  This is a confusing start to say the least.  In his book “THE AUDACITY OF HOPE” Obama states that he attended a “predominately Moslem school.”  This is interesting because from a Moslem point of view anyone born a Moslem remains a Moslem unless he or she is formally joins another faith, which means Judaism or Christianity.   If this occurs then the former Moslem is considered an apostate which is punishable by death.  To be clear, this is an Islamic viewpoint.   Islam is tribal and ritualistic in its understanding.  It would not be the understanding of most of Western culture.  It does, however, explain why many in the world of Islam consider Obama a Moslem.

In order to break the tie with Islam and be considered a Christian Barack Obama would have to undergo baptism.  While working as a community organizer in Chicago Obama joined the Trinity United Church of Christ.  In “THE AUDACITY OF HOPE” Obama states,” I was finally able to walk down the aisle of Trinity United Church of Christ one day and be baptized.”  This was in 1988.  Jeremiah Wright was Pastor at the time.  In describing this experience Obama says that he “made a choice,” “knelt beneath a cross and felt God’s spirit.”  He says, “I submitted myself to his will, and dedicated myself to discovering His truth.”  Although this was undoubtedly a meaningful religious experience there is no indication that Barack Obama was actually baptized in water.  It was not required for membership in the congregation.

President Obama broke with Trinity Church in April of 2008 after the Pastor made strong statements in a sermon against the American government.  He also broke his close relationship of twenty years with Pastor Jeremiah Wright.   There is no indication that Pastor Wright ever baptized Barack Obama.  The membership policy of this ultra-liberal congregation did not even require a renunciation of Islam to join.

It would certainly be unfair to classify President Obama as a Moslem, although Islam may decree otherwise.  His experience as a professing Christian has certainly been tilted strongly to the left and his church attendance since in office has been rare.

(Bill Scarle can be contacted at