Muslim or Christian

In an attempt to try to get a handle on the Illinois view of Senator Obama I decided to root through some of the Chicago Tribune archives. This particular article seems to jump around a bit and from my viewpoint the timeline is cloudy as a result. The quotes below are taken out of order in an attempt to clarify order of dates and events.

[Note: From Meet the Candidate Barack Obama was born in Hawaii on August 4th, 1961 …. This makes him approximately 6-10 yrs of age during his stay in Indonesia],0,2024665.story

Although his campaign has denied that Obama was a practicing Muslim, the “Islam” issue is not likely to go away soon for the presidential candidate.[emphasis added]

[the Catholic School years]

… In fact, Obama’s religious upbringing in Indonesia depended more on the conventions of the schools he attended than on any decision by him, his mother or his stepfather. When he was at a Catholic school for three years, he prayed as a Catholic.[emphasis added]

When Barack Obama was a boy here, he studied for three years at a religious school and prayed four times a day.

It was a Roman Catholic school. There, Obama was registered as student No. 203. “Yes, he prayed, because all the students here had to pray in the Catholic way–`in the name of the Father, [Son] and the Holy Spirit,'” recalled Obama’s 1st-grade teacher, Israella Pareira Darmawan.[emphasis added]

Interviews with dozens of former classmates, teachers, neighbors and friends show that Obama was not a regular practicing Muslim when he was in Indonesia, despite being listed as a Muslim on the registration form for the Catholic school, Strada Asisia, where he attended 1st through 3rd grades.[emphasis added]

It seems of the 4 years in Indonesia the first 3 were spent in a Catholic school which REQUIRED students to “pray in the Catholic way”. Essentially, he was a practicing Catholic due to circumstance, not choice. The phrase “had to pray” is clearly indicative of a lack of choice. (No one goes to a party and says “we had to eat cake”.) Note the article used the phrase ‘regular practicing Muslim’ which implies he was a practicing Muslim who did not ‘regularly’ attend mosque or practice on a ‘regular’ or recurring basis.

In their first neighborhood, Obama occasionally followed his stepfather to the mosque for Friday prayers, a few neighbors said.

Here in the absence of an actual date, we can conclude ‘first neighborhood’ coincides with 1967. Note, the term “occasionally” is used here. I’ve known many practicing religious people who attend services at irregular intervals. Personally, I find regular attendance a non-factor, as determining one’s religion is based on their chosen set of beliefs. Also, “followed” is used, not “accompanied”; therefore we can deduce a young Obama was making his own decision to attend the mosque and not at the direction of a parent as he was not “with” a parent.

In simplest terms: When forced to attend Catholic services Obama worshipped as a Catholic. When free to do as he chose he attended a Muslim mosque. Granted, we’re talking about religious freedom of choice and a 6-10yr old child, but many children begin to voice interest in making their own choices at a similar age.

[4th year public school]

When he was at a public school for a year, he learned about Islam.

In late 1970, Obama’s family moved to another neighborhood, and Obama enrolled in Public Elementary School Menteng No. 1, … In 1962 the Dutch handed the school over to the Indonesian government. At the time, the predominantly Muslim public school was considered one of the best in Jakarta.

“The Muslims learn about Islam, prayer and religious activity,” said Hardi Priyono, the vice principal for curriculum. “And for the Christians, during the religious class, they also have a special room teaching Christianity. It’s always been like that. We are a public school. We have always been a public school. [emphasis added]

When Obama attended 4th grade in 1971, Muslim children spent two hours a week studying Islam, and Christian children spent those two hours learning about the Christian religion.

Zulfan Adi, a former neighborhood playmate of Obama’s who has been cited in news reports as saying Obama regularly attended Friday prayers with Soetoro, told the Tribune he was not certain about that when pressed about his recollections. He only knew Obama for a few months, during 1970, when his family moved to the neighborhood.

Here note the article is dated 2007. How accurate are memories after 30+ years? The 3 quotes included in the article don’t even agree. A teacher states ‘rarely’, neighbors say ‘occasionally’, and a former playmate uses the term ‘regularly’ until pressed about his memory. Interesting I think, the playmate who would most likely be in the best position to observe uses ‘regularly’ but gets pressured about his recollection. I’ll take media bias for 1000 Alex.

I think it’s fairly clear Muslim is the choice here, either by his family or by his own personal decision.

As the article states, the Catholic school’s records are not without flaw, and it is possible Obama is inaccurately listed as Muslim. However, if he was again listed as Muslim in the public school I doubt there was any error on the part of the Catholic record keepers pertaining to religious preference. There is no mention of a listed religious preference or mention that children were forced to attend selected services based on their enrollment documentations. Either way Muslim is the chosen religion, on paper, by Obama or by his parents. There is no mention of the school prohibiting him from attending Christian services; and one can only assume the media, while interviewing “dozens of former classmates, teachers, neighbors and friends” didn’t forget to ask about Obama voluntarily attending any Christian/Catholic services. [sarcasm rocks]

I think it safe to conclude the statement above “Obama’s religious upbringing in Indonesia depended more on the conventions of the schools he attended than on any decision by him, his mother or his stepfather” to be false. Also we can see any denial by the Obama campaign to be false as well.


Posted on July 1, 2008, in politics, religion. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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