Obama: Christian, Not Muslim

Barack Obama has never been Muslim and never practiced Islam. But rumors about his religion intended to frighten some voters persist, and they mostly return to one point of fact: his name. "Barack" is the candidate's Kenyan father's name; Obama's middle name, "Hussein," is his grandfather's name. Hussein embraced Islam—after first converting to Christianity under the name "Johnson." According to Obama's memoir, Hussein valued discipline and strength and found Christian forgiveness to be sentimental. Obama has described his father as atheist or agnostic. His Kansan mom, whose grandparents were devout Protestants, lived a secular life. Obama's only personal contact with Islam came as a boy when he moved to Jakarta, Indonesia, with a stepfather who mixed his Islam with Hindu and Animist traditions. In five years there, Obama attended a Roman Catholic school, then a public elementary school, where he sat through a class each week of religious studies. As an adult, Obama turned to Christianity in the late '80s in Chicago, at Trinity United Church of Christ, where he was baptized, married—and baptized his kids. As a new U.S. senator, Obama took his oath on the family Bible.

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