Liberals often express dismay over the fact that a significant minority of Americans believe that President Obama is a Muslim–or tell pollsters they do, anyway. On a recent television special, Cokie Roberts and her husband Steve explained that those who say Obama is a Muslim are really racists.
I don’t think Obama is a Muslim, but I can understand why many Americans are uncertain about his core beliefs. This year, Obama let Easter pass without issuing any sort of proclamation. That can hardly have been an oversight, as he devoted considerable attention to the annual White House Easter Egg Roll, a purely secular event.
Personally, I don’t care whether the president takes note of religious holidays or not. It would be fine for President Obama to say that out of respect for the separation of church and state, he will commemorate only secular holidays and remain silent on all matters of religion. But he doesn’t do that. On the contrary, he has made a point of issuing Presidential proclamations on the occasion of every significant Muslim holiday–Ramadan, Eid-ul-Fitr, Hajj, and Eid-ul-Adha. Here is what he had to say about Ramadan last August:
On behalf of the American people, Michelle and I want to extend our best wishes to Muslims in America and around the world. Ramadan Kareem.
Ramadan is a time when Muslims around the world reflect upon the wisdom and guidance that comes with faith, and the responsibility that human beings have to one another, and to God. This is a time when families gather, friends host iftars, and meals are shared. But Ramadan is also a time of intense devotion and reflection – a time when Muslims fast during the day and pray during the night; when Muslims provide support to others to advance opportunity and prosperity for people everywhere. For all of us must remember that the world we want to build – and the changes that we want to make – must begin in our own hearts, and our own communities.
These rituals remind us of the principles that we hold in common, and Islam’s role in advancing justice, progress, tolerance, and the dignity of all human beings. Ramadan is a celebration of a faith known for great diversity and racial equality. And here in the United States, Ramadan is a reminder that Islam has always been part of America and that American Muslims have made extraordinary contributions to our country. And today, I want to extend my best wishes to the 1.5 billion Muslims around the world – and your families and friends – as you welcome the beginning of Ramadan.
I look forward to hosting an Iftar dinner celebrating Ramadan here at the White House later this week, and wish you a blessed month.
May God’s peace be upon you.
What did he say about Easter, the most important event in the Christian calendar? Nothing. Is it any surprise that some Americans perceive Obama as more enthusiastic about Islam than about his own self-professed faith?
Earlier today, Obama’s press secretary, Jay Carney, laughed off Obama’s failure to issue any sort of an Easter statement. On the internet, various left-wing sites–led, I believe, by Little Green Footballs–tried to defend Obama by claiming that American presidents never issue Easter proclamations. That is ridiculous, of course. You can read President Bush’s Easter proclamations, as well as the one Obama delivered last year, here. A video of President Reagan giving an eloquent joint tribute to Passover and Easter in 1983 is here.
As I said, I don’t believe that Obama is a Muslim. It seems obvious, however, that he is conflicted about matters of religion, and that for some reason, it is easiest for him to embrace religious observance unequivocally when that observance is Islamic. So it is no wonder that many Americans wonder what he really believes.
UPDATE: Several readers have suggested that my statement that Obama said “nothing” about Easter was incorrect because he hosted a prayer breakfast. I think it was clear that “nothing” meant “no proclamation,” but let me make it painfully simple. Past presidents have 1) hosted an Easter breakfast and 2) issued an Easter proclamation. (George Bush called it an “Easter message,” as he did with all religious holidays.) Last year, Obama 1) hosted an Easter breakfast and 2) issued an Easter proclamation. For Ramadan, Obama 1) hosted a Ramadan dinner and 2) issued a fulsome Ramadan proclamation. This year, for Easter Obama 1) hosted an Easter breakfast but 2) issued NO proclamation.
Is this significant? I don’t know, but a great many people wonder why Obama, a self-described Christian, only seems to wax eloquent when he is talking about Islam.