I just read an article "Can a past of Islam change the path to president for Obama?" on a Blog and at times found myself frustrated, angry, interested, the entire range of emotion you might find in one who supports Senator Obama for President. It is interesting to me that Senator Obama is the ONLY candidate that the "pundits" "bloggers" and mainstream media seem to lend focus to his religion, as if this defines the man and his personal beliefs and how he conducts his life. I see no one writing about Senator Clinton's, religion, or how many times she goes to church, or how what church she attends affects her political agenda. No, this seems to be a specific focus on one candidate, and this is what I object too.
I live in the suburbs of New York City, the melting pot of all nationalities, of all religions and have found and met some wonderful people of ALL religions. I'd like to relay just one story for you.
I used to have a neighbor at the last location where I lived. He was around 60 but looked older due to his long battle with several illnesses. Perhaps some of these illnesses were brought about by his long time service to our country in the Army. He served well and honorably. He had difficulty walking, and did not own a car as he was living just on Disability which was really not enough to live one due to the fact he did not have the years of "work credit" which is used to figure the amount you would receive on Disability. The only thing he got for free was his medication at the local VA hospital, which since, due to cuts by the Federal Government, has moved most of it's services to a VA hospital quite a distance away from, making it difficult for him to make the trip to visit doctors and get his medications. Usually twice a month, I would drive to 2 local outreach programs, and picked up a box of food from each and drove it to his house as it would be impossible for this proud ex-soldier to walk the distance to these outreach centers and then carry the heavy boxes home.
It might interest you to know that I am a White American and he is a Black American. Such a kind, most peace loving man I have ever met, and he was a practicing MUSLIM. There are millions of Black Americans who practice the Muslim faith, in fact it is also taught in prisons. Why? Because the ACTUAL KORAN teaches peace and non-violence for to do an act of violence against another human being is a sin in the Muslim religion. I am a born and raised Baptist, and I was curious about his faith. I fondly remember many discussions we had on the differences between our faiths and although much different in fact in most instances, I found to my surprise some common ground between the two. I found that the Muslim Americans are a kind, peace loving, kind group of people. They hurt deeply when their religion is used as a weapon and "bastardized" to further the goals of terrorists, for that most certainly is not what these kind Muslim Americans are all about.
I use a Dry Cleaners that is owned and run by a Muslim family in the same town and attached to their business is the place where they hold their Muslim services. It truly saddens me to see the look on the faces of the women who wait on me. It is almost as if they are waiting for me to abuse them verbally for their "garb" and their religion. They are just an American family, who happen to be Muslims, trying to live their American dream, just like you and I, yet I see the fear in their eyes today and it saddens me.
Which brings me to my reaction to the focus of many on the 2 years Senator Obama spent in a "supposed Muslim school", which has been proven false, and the fact his natural father, grandmother and grandfather were Muslims. So what? Does this really have any bearing on the qualities of Senator Obama? He has said he also recognizes the racism against Muslim Americans, but that does not mean he is a Muslim. And since when, in America, do you have to be a certain faith to be President? I have read the constitution, have you? It does not ever state only candidates of certain faiths may run for President, or you would not have had our great President Kennedy, a catholic. I can make the same case, to be fair, about the Republican possible candidate, Mitt Romney, a Morman. Religious faith has no bearing on the quality of a candiate.
We should focus on the issues, the candidates and where we are going in America, not on the religious backgrounds of candidates, for to do so goes against everything America stands for. What if we had a Chinese American, a Latino American, a Korean American run for President? Would you also condemn them for their religion and not focus on their ability to be an effective President?
I read in this blog, mentioned above discussion on the pastor of Senator Obama's church. Exactly what bearing does a pastor who happens to preach at the church Senator Obama attends have on Senator Obama's qualities, and outlook for the future of America? Condemning the pastor, condemns the parishioner? I think not. If that were the case, you could then condemn the thousands of parishioners of the nationally known pastor who resigned in disgrace for bringing shame by his behavior on his church, whose name I will not mention here as to do so furthers the condemnation of his congregation, christians who try to live a christian life, as do Muslims trying to live by their principles, peacefully in a country increasingly hostile to them.
The terrorists in Iraq, and other countries, who claim their religion as Muslim only serves to blacken the names of the decent American citizens who are Muslim, who live in peace and unity, focusing on family and working hard, practicing their faith and suffering from racist christians who would condemn them for the acts of those who go against everything the Muslim religion stands for.
Senator Obama is a Christian, who HAPPENS, to have a mixed background of Muslim, Atheist, and Christian. But it his choice to choose his religion and is is a Christian one, but I for one care less what religion he chooses to practice, rather I care about how he will help our country regain the promise it has, helping the poor and the elderly, children, and focusing on providing a better Global image than we now enjoy. Our failure to engage other countries in our goals has suffered greatly under the watch of President Bush and it is time to regain the respect we used to enjoy in the Global community. Senator Obama has the qualities to do just that.
So I ask, what difference does it make that Senator Obama had a Muslim natual father who he had no association with most of his life? It really is a non-issue. This entire thing started with a piece in a magazine, a magazine owned by a close friend of the Clinton's, so make your own conclusion here.
As for me, I think I will keep my friends who are Muslim, for they are a joy to know, and my Jewish friends, my Protestant friends, my Born Again friends, and my Baptist friends. We are ALL Americans and I won't give up a friend because they practice a different religion. God forbid if a Jewish American wanted to run for President. I can see the outcry now in the deeply religious South, and from most Americans. Therefore, there could very well be an extremely promising young politician, who is Jewish, who knows in his heart he could never aspire to be President as he would suffer the same issues that are ascribed to Senator Obama. Being an American with great qualities doesn't count? You prefer to focus on the religion of your target rather than their quality? That is NOT what being an American is about. So look into your hearts and examine this issue.
As Senator Obama has said in his keynote address at the Democratic National Convention, "we are not a Black America, We are not a White America, nor a Latino America, we are ALL Americans."