Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Obama Rips Fox News Over Madrassa Story -- Faith Leaders Deplore and Condemn Smear Tactics

With a staffer declaring, "We will not be swift-boated," Sen. Barack Obama fought back Wednesday against an allegation that he was educated at a radical Islamic school as a child in Indonesia.

A statement by the Obama campaign stated: "To be clear, Senator Obama has never been a Muslim, was not raised a Muslim, and is a committed Christian who attends the United Church of Christ in Chicago. Furthermore, the Indonesian school Obama attended in Jakarta is a public school that is not and never has been a Madrassa."


Interviews by The Associated Press and CNN at the elementary school in Jakarta found that it's a public and secular institution that has been open to students of all faiths since before the White House hopeful attended in the late 1960s.


The National Council of Churches issued the following press release and a statement by Rev. Dr. Bob Edgar which was signed by eight other religious leaders:

Religious leaders from many faith traditions are expressing outrage at recent political tactics in the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign.

"We are writing to deplore this despicable tactic," said the Rev. Bob Edgar, general secretary of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA, and eight other leaders. "We have had enough of the slash and burn politics calculated to divide us as children of God," said the leaders today in an open letter to the religious community

"The bitter, destructive politics that have so riven our country in recent years cannot stand," states the open letter. "As American leaders of different faiths - Catholic and Protestant, Muslim and Jew - who have worked cooperatively and greatly respect all of the 2008 candidates in both parties, we do not offer this statement as an endorsement of any individual candidate. However, certain moral standards should infuse our national dialogue, and the recent attacks on Sen. Obama violate values at the heart of this dialogue. The false and malicious attacks levied at him are anathema to all of our faith traditions, and we condemn them outright."

Several websites carried the reports that Obama's early education was linked to radical Islamic schooling. CNN reported extensively last night there is no truth to the allegations and the senator has strongly denied the story. One cable news program, "Fox and Friends," aired a discussion assuming the story to be factual.

"I've been saying for awhile now that we must not let fear, fundamentalism and Fox News set our nation's agenda," said NCC's Edgar separately. "Now it appears Fox News is using a political candidate to further foment a fear of fundamentalism in hopes of dividing Americans and pitting people of faith against one another. Faithful Americans must stand up and say no to such sinful behavior," Edgar said.

"It is important that we take a stand today against this willful, malicious attempt to mislead and inflame - and against any further attempts to use political attacks to divide the religious community," concluded the letter.

In addition to the NCC's Edgar the open letter was signed by Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner; Imam Mahdi Bray, executive director, Muslim American Society, Freedom Foundation; Rev. Stephen J. Thurston, president, National Baptist Convention of America; the Rt. Rev. Preston W. Williams, president, Global Council of Bishops, African Methodist Episcopal Church; Sister Simone Campbell, SSS, executive director, NETWORK; Rev. John H. Thomas, general minister and president, United Church of Christ; Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, president, Interfaith Alliance; Rabbi Jill Jacobs, director of education, Jewish Funds for Justice.---NCC News contact: Dan Webster, 212.870.2252, NCCnews@ncccusa.org

1 Comments:

At 12:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

From National Council Of Churches Blog

Bob Edgar finding it harder to tell the truth

The National Council of Churches is going bananas because the Fox News morning show discussed an article in Insight Magazine about an investigation Hillary Clinton's campaign was conducting to determine if Barack Obama attended a radical Muslim school as a child. Instead of raising the obvious concern about a politically motivated religious witch-hunt by presidential candidates, NCC General Secretary Bob Edgar chose to exclusively focus his contempt on Fox News:

"I've been saying for awhile now that we must not let fear, fundamentalism and Fox News set our nation's agenda," said NCC's Edgar separately. "Now it appears Fox News is using a political candidate to further foment a fear of fundamentalism in hopes of dividing Americans and pitting people of faith against one another. Faithful Americans must stand up and say no to such sinful behavior," Edgar said.

As usual, Edgar would rather play political games than address the actual issue. The article in doubt focused exclusively on the activities of political candidates:

Are the American people ready for an elected president who was educated in a Madrassa as a young boy and has not been forthcoming about his Muslim heritage?

This is the question Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s camp is asking about Sen. Barack Obama.

An investigation of Mr. Obama by political opponents within the Democratic Party has discovered that Mr. Obama was raised as a Muslim by his stepfather in Indonesia. Sources close to the background check, which has not yet been released, said Mr. Obama, 45, spent at least four years in a so-called Madrassa, or Muslim seminary, in Indonesia.

"He was a Muslim, but he concealed it," the source said. "His opponents within the Democrats hope this will become a major issue in the campaign."

When contacted by Insight, Mr. Obama’s press secretary said he would consult with “his boss” and call back. He did not.


Heaven forbid Edgar would actually challenge his own political party to not pursue these types of campaigns.

 

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