Appearing on "Meet the Press" Sunday, Colin Powell claimed one reason he is endorsing Barack Obama is that fellow Republicans are spreading falsehoods about him.
Specifically, Powell claimed Republicans are spreading the claim that Obama is a "Muslim."
"I'm also troubled by, not what Senator McCain says, but what members of the party say, and it is permitted to be said; such things as, 'Well, you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim,'" Powell said.
He quickly continued: "Well, the correct answer is, He is not a Muslim. He's a Christian. He's always been a Christian."
But Powell's statement is wrong. By Obama's own admission he was not always a Christian. By his account, he became a Christian in his late 20s after meeting the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. in Chicago.
Obama was also raised, at least partially, as a Muslim during his childhood.
The facts are indisputable on this score.
Barack Hussein Obama was born to a Muslim father, with the same name, from Kenya.
After his father divorced his mother, a secular humanist, she remarried, this time to a Muslim man from Indonesia. The couple moved from Hawaii to Indonesia.
While there Obama attended two separate schools and was registered at both as a Muslim student.
As such, he studied the Quran and prayed with Muslim students. According to family members, he attended mosque with his father, albeit infrequently.
[Details of Obama's Muslim upbringing were first detailed by the Los Angeles Times and republished by the Baltimore Sun — Islam an Unknown Factor in Obama Bid.]
Since announcing for president, Obama has denied any ties to the Muslim faith and claims these are part of a smear campaign against him.
Middle East expert and scholar Daniel Pipes says Obama is simply "lying" about his Muslim past. [See: Pipes: Obama 'Lying' about Muslim Past.]
During his "Meet the Press" appearance, Powell, despite making the unequivocal and inaccurate claim that Obama was never a Muslim, then seemed to cover himself.
"But the really right answer is, What if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer is, No, that's not America. Is there something wrong with some 7-year-old Muslim-American kid believing he or she can be president?"
Of course, Powell is right, any American of any faith should be able to become president or hold any position the U.S. government has to offer.
But the issue raised by many thoughtful Republicans and others is not whether Obama is a Muslim — but why Obama feels it necessary to hide his past ties to the Muslim faith and, as Pipes claim, to "lie" about his past association with it.
Considering the media went to great lengths to make Mitt Romney's Mormon faith an issue in the GOP primaries, and Sarah Palin's faith has been heavily scrutinized, thinking Americans want to know why Obama's past and faith are off limits.
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