Belief Beat

Updated: Check out what else applies to 1 in 5 Americans, over at my Huffington Post column.

I thought I was just being a little snarky in my last post about Park51 (the not at Ground Zero, not a mosque proposal ) when I noted that since some Americans still insist that President Obama is some kind of secret Muslim, he should have just stayed out of that particular debate.

Well, sadly, it turns out that this joke is actually making headlines all over again:

I know it’s still summer re-run season, but sheesh. Didn’t we already cover this in 2008? How ridiculous — not to mention, irrelevant and distracting, given the real challenges we face right now — can we get? In today’s 24-hour news cycle and webstalking world, there would certainly be more evidence amassed against a secret-Muslim head of state by now than being born with a funny-sounding name. (His absentee father was a Kenyan Muslim-turned-atheist; whatever young Barry was described as during his early childhood in Muslim-majority Indonesia, it would not have been a decision he actively made.) Obama has been a churchgoing, Bible-spouting Christian for decades, yet as USA Today religion reporter Cathy Lynn Grossman writes:

But it appears that short of enrolling in a Protestant seminary, there may not be many more back flips Obama could do to prove he’s as Christian as he says.

I suspect that this, along with much of the inflammatory rhetoric going on about the “Ground Zero Mosque,” is conveniently happening now because it’s a contentious election year, in which Republicans and Tea Party candidates are fighting hard to bring down this president’s party. Too bad that all this comes at the expense of covering real problems, like the Gulf of Mexico oil spill cleanup efforts, the devastating floods in Pakistan, the slow earthquake recovery process in Haiti, our troops risking their lives in the Middle East and Afghanistan, Mexico’s drug warimmigration reform, the American economy

In addition to this current Time blog post, Barack Obama Is Not A Muslim, here are two Beliefnet links to the original coverage of this issue, back in 2008. Oldies, but apparently still goodies:

Maybe Vice President Joe Biden will take one for the team and make some kind of dreadful gaffe to get this out of the headlines before November. Or, more likely, we’ll just go back to fighting over gay marriage by then.

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.

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