Friday, June 6, 2008

Obama's Religious Views

KIM LAWTON, guest anchor: With major primaries coming up this week (March 4), Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have been competing for faith-based voters. But for Obama, this was a week of new religious controversy on several fronts. I took a closer look.

Senator BARACK OBAMA (D-IL, in speech): But what I am suggesting is this: Secularists are wrong when they ask believers to leave their religion at the door before entering into the public square.

KIM LAWTON: Barack Obama has long urged the Democratic Party not to run away from religion. He has spoken openly about his own beliefs, and his campaign has employed a vigorous faith-based outreach strategy. Experts say this has earned him support within the religious community, but religion has also generated controversy for him.

This week, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan joined the ranks of religious leaders offering praise for Obama. Farrakhan called him "the herald of the Messiah." This raised concern among Jewish leaders who have criticized Farrakhan for using anti-Semitic rhetoric. Supporters at an Obama rally Barack Obama was asked about it during Tuesday's Democratic debate.

Sen. OBAMA (speaking at Democratic Candidates Debate in Ohio): You know, I have been very clear in my denunciation of Minister Farrakhan's anti-Semitic comments. I think they are unacceptable and reprehensible. I did not solicit this support.

LAWTON: Also this week, a photo circulated around the Internet showing Obama trying on traditional tribal clothing during a 2006 trip to Africa. Another anonymous email campaign falsely suggested Obama is a closet Muslim. The senator has called this "offensive fear-mongering." Obama describes himself as a "committed Christian" and has often detailed his personal religious journey.

Sen. OBAMA (in speech): My father, who returned to Kenya when I was just two, was born a Muslim, but as an adult was an atheist. My mother, whose parents were non-practicing Baptists and Methodists, was probably one of the most spiritual people I knew, and because she grew up with a healthy skepticism of organized religion, so did I.

Read it all here.

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