Was Obama Ramadan Iftar a Cover for secret Buddhist Leanings?
Posted Sep 3, 2009

Was Obama Ramadan Iftar a Cover for secret Buddhist Leanings?

by Sheila Musaji

An absolutely ridiculous article Obama converts to Islam, fact or fiction? about President Obama’s Ramadan message at the White House Iftar caught my attention.  In addition to including a picture of the satirical New Yorker cover (which the writer obviously thought was serious), the writer says:

“I can’t find any messages that Obama gave during Easter or other Christian celebrations. Also several years ago during an interview about his faith, Obama’s answers didn’t match that of basic Christianity. Since leaving Rev Wright’s Chicago area church and moving to Washington President Obama has not found a Christian church. At the very least Obama doesn’t seem to pay much attention to his Christian faith, a charge many Christians are guilty of but would it really surprise anyone to learn at some point that Obama has acknowledged he has become a Muslim?”

Come on Islamophobes let’s get at least some facts mixed in with the inuendo and delusion.  How is that anyone “can’t find any messages that Obama gave during Easter or other Christian celebrations”?

Even before he was President, President-Elect Obama issued a Christmas message.  He also ”...extended his greetings to the Sikh community in America on the tercentenary celebrations of consecration of the Guru Granth Sahib.”  He also hosted a Seder last year while still campaigning.  Also while still a candidate in 2008 Barack Obama held a conference call with more than 900 rabbis to extend greetings to them and their congregants ahead of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.  Obama told the rabbis that the Jewish New Year themes of renewal and rededication to improving our world resonate with him, as they echo the themes he has emphasized in his life and during his campaign.  “I extend my New Year’s greetings to you and to your congregations and communities,” Obama told the rabbis. “The Jewish New Year is unlike the new years of any other cultures, in part because it’s not simply a time for revelry; it’s a time for what might be called determined rejoicing - a time to put your affairs with other people in order so you can honestly turn to God, a time to recommit to the serious work of tikkun olam - of mending the world.”


President Obama hosted a Passover Seder, the First Ever Held At the White House.  He also told a group of 75 Jewish leaders at a local synagogue that he “feels a sense of “kinship” with the Jewish community, and that he has been influenced in his life by Jewish writers, philosophers and friends.”  There is also a photo of Obama wearing a yarmulka.  All of this prompted a satirical article entitled Is Obama really Jewish?

President Obama gave an address on the occasion of Passover and Easter this year. And, he and his family attended Easter services at St. John’s Episcopal Church.  The address opened with the words:

“I speak to you today during a time that is holy and filled with meaning for believers around the world. Earlier this week, Jewish people gathered with family and friends to recite the stories of their ancestors’ struggle and ultimate liberation. Tomorrow, Christians of all denominations will come together to rejoice and remember the resurrection of Jesus Christ. 

These are two very different holidays with their own very different traditions. But it seems fitting that we mark them both during the same week. For in a larger sense, they are both moments of reflection and renewal. They are both occasions to think more deeply about the obligations we have to ourselves and the obligations we have to one another, no matter who we are, where we come from, or what faith we practice.”

It seems as if Obama is attempting to be as inclusive as possible in honoring the incredibly varied religious beliefs of Americans.  And, I am certain that when his first Christmas in the White House comes around he will deliver a message and light the national Christmas tree, just as he continued the custom of the annual White House Easter egg roll.

To recognize the accomplishments of United We Serve (an interfaith effort of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships), President Obama designated Aug. 31-Sept. 6 as Interfaith Service Week during which Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus and people of other faiths are working together to overcome religious divides while strengthening local communities.  More than 3,000 interfaith projects have come out of the United We Serve Initiative.   

What really riles the Islamophobes is that President Obama hosted an Iftar at the White House.  They seem to have forgotten that White House dinners marking the holy month are nothing new. Former President George W. Bush held iftars every year during his eight years in office.  In fact, “The iftar dinner follows a White House tradition that predates Obama’s time in office. President Bill Clinton hosted the first iftar meal at the White House, and President George Bush continued the tradition throughout both of his terms. The White House has hosted numerous other ethnic and religious festivities, including the Persian New Year, the annual Easter Egg roll, and a Passover seder.”

If anything this years White House Iftar may have broken tradition in its inclusion of other than Muslims.  “Among the guests were Israel’s U.S. ambassador and leaders of the Orthodox and Reform movements of Judaism.  Ambassador Michael Oren, Orthodox Union director of public affairs Nathan Diament, and Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism director Rabbi David Saperstein were on the guest list for the dinner.” 

As conspiracy theories go this Obama is a secret Muslim theory is about as poorly researched and backed up as it gets. 

I think I’ll go with the Obama is a Buddhist theory, or even the Barack Obama is secretly a Zen Buddhist Master theory.  There is a lot of “documentation?” for this.  There was, after all a Buddhists for Obama group.  A Buddhist Blog site ran an article calling Obama an “inspiration to the world”  AND they ran a photo of Obama with the Dalai Lama.  The Buddhist Channel Buddhist Channel reported “Several Buddhists said Obama’s message of unity accords with Dharma teachings on interconnectedness and the dangers of an us-versus-them dualism. Morever, they say, the Democrat’s background reflects the Buddha’s belief that all beings can become enlightened, regardless of race or class.”.  In an article The curious case of Barack Obama and the Dalai Lama’s scarf it was reported that “In an intriguing footnote to the inauguration last week of President Barack Obama, Buddhist web-sites have been buzzing with the story that as he was being sworn in, Obama was carrying in his pocket a kata, or ceremonial scarf, that had come from the Dalai Lama.”  This was also reported on Beliefnet.

Definitely, the secret Buddhist theory trumps some of the others out there.  Is Barack Obama a secret…Hindu? just doesn’t have enough “evidence”.

Perhaps Obama’s White House Iftar was only a cover for Obama’s real secret. 


UPDATE:

President Obama issues a Rosh Hashanah message to the Jewish community for 2009.  You can see the text and video at http://www.usnews.com/blogs/god-and-country/2009/09/18/president-obamas-rosh-hashanah-message.html