Religious Freedom in the Land of the Free


Here’s a memo to all you God-fearing American voters out
there: Barack Obama is not a Muslim. He never has been, even if his biological
father was a Kenyan Muslim and his step-father was an Indonesian Muslim. And
even if he went to school in Indonesia,
the world’s largest Muslim-majority

So what exactly is Obama’s religious affiliation? Who knows?
Indeed, who cares?

No Mormons please,
we’re evangelical

Believe it or not, many Americans do. Just ask all those
evangelical Christian Republican voters in Iowa who couldn’t bring themselves to vote
for the smart and talented Mitt Romney, and that minority of Michigan Republicans who
refused to vote for him.

Romney might be a self-made man. He might bring much needed
political skills to the White House. Unlike a certain Texan who once appointed
John Howard as his Deputy Sheriff, Romney might actually be able to string a
sentence together without inadvertently injecting too much wit and wisdom.

But forget all that important stuff. What really matters to
a huge number of Americans is that Romney is — perish the thought — a Mormon.
You wouldn’t think he was, would you? Romney doesn’t wear a black name badge on
the front of his coat or even sing his amended version of that old Christopher
Cross song (which goes something like “When you get caught between the moon and
Salt Lake City ).

But I guess for evangelical warriors, Romney’s faith is a
deliberate deception of all
those poor God-fearing real Christians.

In my high school year, I had two close mates, one Jewish
and another Mormon. Ours was a low-church evangelical Anglican school, and our
school chaplain one day decided to show us all a video called The God Makers. The video
claimed to expose Mormon teachings, which Mormons allegedly hide from the rest
of us.

After the movie, some evangelical kids poked fun at my
Mormon friend, saying: “What kind of stupid religion teaches that men can
become God?

My Jewish mate retorted: “I know. It’s almost as dumb as claiming
God became a man!

You’d think American Republicans would show more maturity
than a couple of 16-year-olds.

Image thanks to Fiona Katauskas.


No (former) Muslims
please, we’re Neo-con

Romney may not be prepared to disown his ancestral faith,
but Democratic candidate Barack Obama can’t get enough of disowning his. Obama
has used every opportunity to reassure Americans that he has absolutely no trace of Islam in him.

Obama sees Christianity as a faith mobilising people to
pursue social justice. In this respect, his vision is similar to that of our
own Kevin Rudd. Further, Obama’s statement on faith clearly states that religion shouldn’t be used to divide the nation.

“Given the increasing diversity of America’s population, the dangers
of sectarianism have never been greater. Whatever we once were, we are no
longer just a Christian nation; we are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a
Buddhist nation, a Hindu nation, and a nation of non-believers.

But all this doesn’t help Obama. As American Muslim stand-up
comedian Azhar Usman
told one audience: “Check this guy out. He’s first name rhymes with Iraq. His
middle name is Hussein, and his last name is almost Osama!

If you believe what lunar-Right commentators like Daniel
Pipes say, you’d think Muslims were lining up to kill Mr almost-Osama. On
Christmas Eve,
published a sectarian rant written by Pipes titled ‘Was
Barack Obama a Muslim?’

Pipes concluded Obama was an ex-Muslim who converted to
Christianity in his college years. Because of this, Pipes claims “Mainstream
American Muslims … would … be angry at what they consider would be his

I can’t find any evidence of mainstream American Muslims
getting angry over Obama’s religious choices. Perhaps Pipes could show me the
anger in this column by
one of America’s
most widely read Muslim writers?

Pipes doesn’t stop there. Eight days later, he provides
that “Obama was an irregularly practicing Muslim who rarely or occasionally
prayed with his step-father in a mosque . On that basis, Pipes titles his
article ‘Confirmed: Barack Obama Practised Islam’.

On that basis, I can confirm that former Liberal Member for Parramatta, Ross Cameron,
also practised Islam. On the day before his election to Federal Parliament in
1996, I took Cameron to a Friday prayer service. Cameron addressed worshippers,
then joined them in prayers, copying all the postures of Islamic congregational
worship. To this day, I’m not aware of a single Muslim from Parramatta or elsewhere who has threatened to
kill Cameron for abandoning the faith.

Why God won’t get to
vote in the US

In 1786, Thomas Jefferson successfully moved Virginia’s Statute for Establishing Religious Freedom.
In his autobiography, Jefferson praised the
inclusiveness of the Statute which allowed for “the Jew and the Gentile, the
Christian and Mahometan, the Hindoo and the Infidel to play an equal role in
public life.

Other Founding Fathers made
clear the new federal republic would allow followers of all religions and none
to hold high office. This has been enshrined in the US Constitution, which
states “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any
Office or public Trust under the United States.

That means Hillary can become a Mormon, divorce Bill and
become Mitt’s second wife. Obama can convert to Judaism, have a sex-change
operation and marry Daniel Pipes. They’ll still be eligible for the top job.

American Neo-cons can only make an issue of a candidate’s
faith by ignoring the clear intent of the US Constitution. And to think they
call themselves conservatives.

New Matilda is independent journalism at its finest. The site has been publishing intelligent coverage of Australian and international politics, media and culture since 2004.