By now, you’ve probably heard of or most likely received the viral email claiming Barack Obama is a closet Muslim, and that we all should take heed at a possible Obama presidency. I received this email yesterday. Here it is:

Who is Barack Obama ? Probable U. S. presidential candidate, Barack Hussein Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, to Barack Hussein Obama, Sr., a black MUSLIM from Nyangoma-Kogel, Kenya and Ann Dunham, a white ATHIEST from Wichita, Kansas. Obama’s parents met at the University of Hawaii. When Obama was two years old, his parents divorced. His father returned to Kenya. His mother then married Lolo Soetoro, a RADICAL Muslim from Indonesia. When Obama was! 6 years old, the family relocated to Indonesia. Obama attended a MUSLIM school in Jakarta. He also spent two years in a Catholic school. Obama takes great care to conceal the fact that he is a Muslim. He is quick to point out that, “He was “once a Muslim, but that he also attended Catholic school.” Obama’s political handlers are attempting to make it appear that his introduction to Islam came via his father, and that this influence was temporary, at best. But,in reality, the senior Obama returned to Kenya soon after the divorce, and never again had any direct influence over his son’s education. Lolo Soetoro, the second husband of Obama’s mother, Ann Dunham, introduced his stepson to Islam. Obama was enrolled in a Wahabi school in Jakarta. Wahabism is the RADICAL teaching that is followed by the Muslim terrorists who are now waging Jihad against the western world. Since it is politically expedient to be a CHRISTIAN when seeking major public office in the United States, Barack Hussein Obama has joined the United Church of Christ in an attempt to downplay his Muslim background. ALSO, keep in mind that when he was sworn into office he DID NOT use the Holy Bible, but instead the Koran. Let us all remain alert concerning Obama’s expected presidential candidacy. The Muslims have said they plan on destroying the US from “the inside out”. What better way to start than at the highest level – through the President of the United States being one of their own !!!! Please forward this to everyone you know. Do you want this man leading our country?…… Very interesting and something that should be considered in your choice. If you do not ever forward anything else, please forward this to all your contacts…this is very scarey to think of what lies ahead of us here in our own United States…better heed this and pray about it and share it.

Since most people when forwarding emails don’t put all their recipients’ address in the BCC field, I had several email addresses throughout the forwarded email chain. So, I decided to send an email to everyone on the list. Here was my response:

Most of you receiving this email do not know who I am. Who I am does not matter; what I have to say, however, does. If you do not know me and wonder where I obtained your email address from, I obtained it from a forwarded email-chain.

The scurrilous email in question purports that Senator Barack Obama is a Muslim intent on destroying the United States from “the inside out.” Interesting, though, that each one of the many fallacious claims are not supported by any evidence or citation, an obvious red flag.

The email is meant only to scare people, and in forwarding it to others and not verifying its contents, we have validated the intent and purpose of this email. If we have two minutes to forward these types of unverified and unsupported emails to our friends and family, surely we have two minutes to perform a simple Google search.

Performing a quick search on “Obama Muslim” is highly enlightening. The first search result, curiously, is a sponsored link (meaning the site it links to paid for the link to be there) from the Obama campaign website. It is ridiculous that the campaign has to spend time and resources refuting these inaccurate claims.

If the numerous quotes and facts on the campaign website are not enough to dispel the rumors, though, then the following two articles are. Snopes, a website dedicated to verifying and debunking urban legends and myths, debunks the original email.

The second article deals with the so-called “madrassa” Obama attended in Indonesia. A CNN reporter actually visited the school to prove this claim false. Watch the reporter’s story and read the article.

Finally, the claim that Obama was sworn into the U.S. Senate on the Koran is also unfounded. Obama was not sworn in on a Koran, but Congressman Keith Ellison of Minnesota was.

This Obama email smear is the same disgusting type of smear campaign that was waged against Senator Max Cleland in Georgia while running for reelection in 2002 and Senator John McCain in South Carolina while running for president in 2000. Cleland, a Vietnam veteran who lost two legs and one arm in the war, was accused of being anti-American; McCain, who has an adopted Bangladeshi daughter, was accused of fathering an illegitimate African-American child. In both of these previous cases and now, too, in the Obama case, the unidentified accusers are incapable of mounting a substantive issues-based campaign against their targets, so instead, the accusers resort to despicable and monumentally false character smears.

Perhaps we can write this off as “politics as usual.” Sure, this is what hardball politics has come to in the United States. But we owe it to ourselves and to each other to put an end to this type of politics and instead engage in a new kind of politics. Instead of politics of fear, let us embrace politics of hope.

Please, in the future, instead of spreading lies and validating shameless fear tactics, spread truth; spread hope. This country and this world could use a heavy dose of both.