Leaders Urge Obama to Make Religion Speech

April 3, 2008

Author: Andrea Useem

Source: Religion News Service/The Pew Forum


The first Muslim elected to Congress on Thursday (April 3) urged Sen. Barack Obama to show "transcendant leadership" by tackling issues of religion -- including allegations that Obama is a Muslim -- in the same way he addressed racial divisions.

"Religious pluralism is under threat," Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., said at a forum on Capitol Hill. "A candidate who could pull off a speech (on religion) that would allow us to be who we are, and at the same time tolerate others and be proud of the religious diversity of this country would be a great service."

According to a Pew Research Center poll published last month, one in 10 Americans believe Obama is a Muslim, despite denials from Obama and his campaign and his well-publicized membership at a Chicago megachurch.

The Rev. Jim Wallis, a progressive evangelical leader, praised Obama's handling of his former pastor's controversial statements in his March 18 speech on race, and called on the senator to "do the equivalent" on relations with Islam.