The Truth About Those Nasty Internet Rumors

There has been much ado about a series of rumors – all of them false or misleading – spread by a massive email campaign (which continues to this day) regarding President Barack Obama.  These rumors – despite having been thoroughly debunked by mainstream media outlets and by President Obama himself – keep resurfacing.  Whoever it is that keeps starting these rumors has been wildly successful; these rumors seem to have gained a firm foothold just below the surface of the collective consciousness, occasionally raising their ugly heads and then hiding again in the shadows, continuing to spread like a virus with no apparent cure.  The only remedy is the truth, and providing that truth is the purpose of this page.


The basic allegations are as follows:


  1. While living in Indonesia during his childhood, President Obama attended an Islamic “Wahhabist” extremist school, or “madrassa”
  2. President Obama was raised as a Muslim extremist by his Wahhabist step-father, and that he either remains a “closet Muslim” and therefore could be some sort of “sleeper agent” (a la Tom Clancy’s “Jeff Raman” character in the Jack Ryan thriller Executive Orders) or, if he is no longer a practicing Muslim, he is an apostate who must be killed under Islamic law
  3. President Obama “converted” to Christianity just so he could run for the United States Senate in the 2004 election
  4. President Obama took his oath of office with his hand on the Q’uran, rather than on the Bible
  5. President Obama refuses to put his hand over his heart during the National Anthem or recite the Pledge of Allegiance, and thinks the American Flag should be redesigned.
  6. A widely-disseminated photograph shows Obama wearing “Muslim garb”
  7. Obama’s middle name (“Hussein”) proves he is a Muslim, and that he is named after Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein
  8. President Obama was endorsed by Black Muslim leader Luis Farrakhan.
  9. President Obama is not a natural-born citizen of the United States, and is therefore ineligible to serve as President
  10. President Obama is the Anti-Christ (no, I’m not kidding – this is an actual rumor)
  11. President Obama ordered the United States Post Office to create a stamp honoring Islamic holidays.
  12. President Obama ordered the phrase “In God We Trust” removed from the design of the new Gold Presidential Dollar coins


The bottom line here is simple – don’t believe everything you read in an email, no matter who sent it to you!  Look into the allegations yourself – most of the time a simple Google search will reveal the truth.  There are also certain websites that can be relied on to examine these rumors in a non-partisan way and get to the actual truth.  Three in particular come to mind –,, and  If any of these come up when you do your Google search, they should be the first results you try.


Please feel free to disseminate any or all of this information with as much energy and enthusiasm as those who spread these false rumors in the first place.  As they say, the Truth shall set you free!


The truth about each of these allegations can be found below.



Allegation #1:   President Obama attended a “Wahhabist” extremist school, or madrassa, while living in Indoneasia


True or False:   False


The Truth:   This rumor seems to have started with a story that appeared in Insight Magazine, which is published by the Korean cult leader, the “Reverend” Sun Yung Moon – not a trustworthy source for anything (remember the “Moonies”?).  The authors of the Insight magazine article claimed their source was someone inside the Clinton campaign, a charge vehemently denied by then-Senator Clinton, who called the story “an obvious right-wing hit job”.


Barack Obama did, in fact, live in Djakarta, Indonesia, from 1967 to 1971 (ages 6 – 10).  His stepfather, Lolo Soetoro, an Indonesian student who had met and married President Obama’s mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, while attending the University of Hawaii at Manoa, had moved the family to Indonesia from Hawaii because Soetoro had been conscripted into the Indonesian Army by the newly-installed Suharto regime (he later worked for a U. S. Oil Company there).   President Obama’s natural father, Barack Hussein Obama, Sr., was from Kenya, and had returned there after divorcing Obama’s mother when President Obama was just two years old (All three parents – President Obama’s mother and both his natural father and his stepfather – are now deceased).


While living in Indonesia, President Obama attended the Basuki Elementary School (“Madrassa” is simply the Farsi word for “School”) for two years.   He also attended a Catholic parochial school for two years.   CNN sent their Senior International Correspondent, John Vause, to Djakarta, Indonesia to investigate the Basuki Elementary School, and, in a segment for The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, ran Vause’s report on January 22nd, 2007, under the headline “Debunking a Smear”.    As it turns out, the Basuki Elementary School is a secular (non-religious) neighborhood public school in Djakarta, and teaches the national curriculum of Indonesia, which includes one hour twice a week of religious instruction – in a comparative religion format; it does not engage in Islamic indoctrination.   In fact, Christian students at the Basuki Elementary School are taught that Jesus is the Son of God.   In Vause’s report, the children at the school – boys and girls together – were dressed in modern western clothes, as were the teachers and staff.   Photos from the time that President Obama attended the Basuki Elementary School show the same thing – men and women teachers and staff, and boy and girl students, all standing together, all dressed in contemporary western clothes.  Such a thing could never occur at a “Wahhabist” extremist school, where boys and girls are separated, women are not allowed to be teachers and are required to wear full-cover burkas, and so on.  Vause interviewed a former classmate of President Obama’s, Bandug Winadijanto, who remembered “Barry” Obama from both the Basuki Elementary School and from being in the Boy Scouts with him.   Winadijanto described the Basuki Elementary School back then as being much the same as it is now: while a majority of the students are Muslim (as is a majority of the population of Indonesia), there were also Christians, Buddhists, Confucianists, and others.


Traditionally, the nation of Indonesia, which has the largest Muslim population of any nation on earth, is generally regarded as a moderate nation in the Islamic world.  The secular Suharto government came to power by driving out the extremist – and pro-communist – Sukarno government in a 1965 coup d’etat.  Wahhabist schools did not appear until they were started by the Mujahadeen in response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the late 1970’s.  President Obama lived in Indonesia, where he attended both the Basuki Elementary School and a Catholic school, between 1967 and 1971 – a time when Wahhabist schools did not yet exist and the national curriculum of Indonesia was set by the secular Suharto government.   This is the historical record, and it directly contradicts the allegation.




Allegation #2:   President Obama was raised as a Muslim extremist by his Wahhabist stepfather, and that he either remains a “closet Muslim” and therefore could be some sort of “sleeper agent” (a la Tom Clancy’s “Jeff Raman” character in the Jack Ryan thriller Executive Orders) or, if he is no longer a practicing Muslim, that this makes him an apostate who must be killed under Islamic law


True or False:   False


The Truth:   Sun Yung Moon’s Insight magazine made this claim without offering proof of any kind, as did the Fox News Channel.  On the other hand, several news organizations, including the Associated Press, CBS, CNN, and ABC, have in fact contradicted this allegation, describing Obama’s stepfather, Lolo Soetoro, as “a non-practicing Muslim”.   Senator Obama himself has described his stepfather – in two national best-selling books (Dreams From My Father and The Audacity of Hope) – as having not been particularly religious.


As for President Obama’s “hidden Muslim past”, he writes, in Dreams From My Father, “In Indonesia, I’d spent 2 years at a Muslim school, 2 years at a Catholic school.  In the Muslim school, the teacher wrote to tell mother I made faces during Koranic studies…” and, in The Audacity of Hope, “During the five years that we would live with my step-father in Indonesia, I was sent first to a neighborhood Catholic school and then to a predominantly Muslim school; in both cases, my mother was less concerned with me learning the catechism or puzzling out the meaning of the muezzin’s call to evening prayer than she was with whether I was properly learning my multiplication tables.”


How “hidden” can this past be if Senator Obama openly discusses attending Basuki Elementary School in two national best-selling books?


As for President Obama’s remaining a “closet Muslim”, in addition to attending his secular neighborhood public school (the Basuki Elementary School) for two years, he attended a private Catholic parochial school for the rest of his time in Djakarta.  So much for the allegation that his parents were Islamic extremists – why would Islamic extremists send their child to a Catholic school?  Following his return to Hawaii in 1971 (at the age of ten), President Obama was raised primarily by his grandparents – his maternal grandparents, the Christian parents of his white mother from Kansas.  President Obama was raised, to the extent that he had a religious upbringing, as a Christian – not as a Muslim.


President Obama moved to Chicago after finishing Harvard Law School (where he had served as the first black editor of the Harvard Law Review), where he joined the congregation of the Trinity United Church of Christ in 1988.  He and his wife Michelle were married there, and both of his daughters were baptized there.  He left the Trinity Church after video was released showing the Church’s retired pastor, Jeremiah Wright, saying some very offensive things from the pulpit.  Regardless of the controversy that (properly) ensued over Pastor Wright’s comments, it should be pointed out that he was the Christian pastor of a Christian church.   It is more than a little disingenuous to claim that President Obama is a Muslim, while at the same time complaining about statements made by his Christian pastor.


The concern that President Obama would be considered an apostate who must be killed has raised the specter of an assassination attempt by Muslim extremists who believe this sort of thing.  The risk of assassination is of course a serious concern for any President, but I don’t believe the risk would be any higher for President Obama than it would be for any given President (do you really think that al Queda didn’t consider trying to assassinate President Bush, or wouldn’t have considered trying to assassinate a President McCain?).  Our history lends credence to the concern of an assassination attempt on a President – four United States Presidents (Abraham Lincoln, James Garfield, William McKinley and John F. Kennedy) have been assassinated in the past, and attempts have been made on several others (including Andrew Jackson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan) – but we as a people have given the Secret Service, the military, the various Intelligence Agencies, the F.B.I., and other law enforcement agencies the responsibility of preventing and protecting against such an attempt.  These agencies take every possible precaution, regardless of who is President, yet they readily admit that it is next to impossible to protect against a lone assassin who is absolutely determined to take the life of a President and is willing to lose his own life in the process.  We simply have to trust the Secret Service and the other agencies to do their job, and pray for the continued safety of our President – whoever that President may be.




Allegation #3:   President Obama “converted” to Christianity just so he could run for the United States Senate in the 2004 election


True or False:   False


The Truth:   President Obama, as stated above, did not “convert” to Christianity; he has always been a Christian.   He attended the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, where he was a member for twenty years, starting in 1988, the  year he moved to Chicago following law school.   He first ran for office (for the Illinois State Senate) in 1996.   He first ran for the United States Senate in 2004.  The notion that President Obama “converted” to Christianity in 1988 so that he could run 8 years later for the Illinois State Senate (in 1996), or 16 years later for the United States Senate (in 2004) is just absurd.



Allegation #4:   President Obama took his oath of office as a Senator with his hand on the Q’uran (or “Koran”), rather than on the Bible


True or False:   False


The Truth:   To give those making this allegation the benefit of the doubt, I will assume it came about as a case of mistaken identity.  At the time this rumor started there actually was one member of Congress who had taken his oath of office with his hand on the Q’uran instead of the Bible, but it wasn’t President Obama – it was Representative Keith Ellison of Minnesota, who has made no secret of his Muslim faith.  In fact, Representative Ellison used Thomas Jefferson’s personal copy of the Q’uran – borrowed from Jefferson’s descendants especially for the occasion – for his first swearing in, which occurred in January of 2007 (a second Muslim, Democrat Andre Carson of Indiana, was elected to Congress in a special election in 2008 – he and Representative Ellison are the only two Muslims ever to serve in the United States Congress).  President Obama took his oath of office as a United States Senator (in January of 2005) with his hand on his family Bible, as he did on each previous occasion where he was taking an oath of office (for his two terms in the Illinois State Senate).  For his Presidential oath, he used President Abraham Lincoln’s family bible.



Allegation #5:  President Obama refuses to put his hand over his heart during the National Anthem or recite the Pledge of Allegiance, and thinks the American Flag should be redesigned.


True or False:  False


The Truth:  This series of allegations stems primarily from two different sources.  The first is a widely-disseminated photograph taken at a political event in Iowa in 2007 (the annual “Steak Fry” hosted by Senator Tom Harkin) showing Barack Obama, Bill Richardson, Hillary Clinton, and Ruth Harkin (Senator Harkin’s wife) on a stage in front of a large American flag:




In the photo, Barack Obama has his hands clasped in front of him, while the other three have their hands over their hearts.  While this looks bad for Mr. Obama, it is difficult to tell exactly what is happening at the precise moment the picture was taken – since none of them appear to be singing, had the national anthem not yet begun (which could mean that Mr. Obama had not yet raised his hand to his heart) or had it just ended (which could mean he had already lowered his hand)?  Why are none of them facing the flag behind them?  Was there a flag off to the right, the direction that Obama, Clinton, and Harkin are looking (although only Obama is actually “facing” that direction – Clinton and Harkin are facing forward with just their heads turned to the right) and, if so, why is Richardson facing – and looking – forward?


The controversy that erupted over this photo spurred a flurry of media coverage, most debunking the allegation.  As a result, other photos have surfaced:


 image007 Obama flag pic 2 image010

So what is the truth here?  I find it hard to justify basing an allegation on a single photo when other photos clearly show the opposite of the allegation’s claim.


This rumor has evolved over time to claim that President Obama refuses to put his hand over his heart during – or to even recite – the Pledge of Allegiance.  This is patently false.   President Obama frequently recites the Pledge of Allegiance with his hand over his heart – each and every time it is appropriate for him (or anyone else present at the time) to do so – and has led the Pledge of Allegiance on the Senate floor.


The second source for this series of allegations actually started as a joke – a political satire by columnist John Semmons – that appeared on the website of The Arizona Conservative.  In his “Semi-News – A Satirical Look at Recent News” column, in which he regularly includes false quotes intended to exaggerate an issue, Semmons attributed the following quote to Barack Obama: “As I’ve said about the flag pin, I don’t want to be perceived as taking sides,” Obama said. “There are a lot of people in the world to whom the American flag is a symbol of oppression. And the anthem itself conveys a war-like message. You know, the bombs bursting in air and all. It should be swapped for something less parochial and less bellicose. I like the song ‘I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing.’ If that were our anthem, then I might salute it.”


Mr. Obama, of course, never said any such thing.  This type of quote is typical of what can be found in Mr. Semmons’ column (among other things, the same column, in a segment addressing the posh Chapel Hill location for John Edwards’s campaign office, listed Edwards’ spokesman as “Thurston J. Howell IV” – Gilligan’s Island fans rejoice!) – and he simply made this quote up.  It has nevertheless been forwarded in emails as if these are actually Mr. Obama’s own words.


Some versions of the email rumor include another – and equally bogus – quote: “We should consider to reinvent our National Anthem as well as to redesign our flag to better offer our enemies hope and love.  It’s my intention, if elected, to disarm America to the level of acceptance to our Middle East Brethren. If we as a Nation of warring people, should conduct ourselves as the nations of Islam, whereas peace prevails.  Perhaps a state or period of mutual concord between our governments.  When I become President, I will seek a pact or agreement to end hostilities between those who have been at war or in a state of enmity, and a freedom from disquieting oppressive thoughts. We as a Nation have placed upon the nations of Islam an unfair injustice.  My wife disrespects the flag for many personal reasons.  Together she and I have attended many flag-burning ceremonies in the past, many years ago.  She has her views, and I have mine.  Of course now, I have found myself about to become the President of the United States and I have put aside my hatred. I will use my power to bring CHANGE to this Nation, and offer the people a new path of hope. My wife and I look forward to becoming our Country’s First Family. Indeed, CHANGE is about to overwhelm the United States of America.”


As with the previous alleged quote, Obama has never said any such thing – the quote is a complete fabrication.


Later versions of this email rumor claim that the above statements were made by Mr. Obama on Meet the Press on September 7, 2008.  This is simply not true – Mr. Obama was not even on Meet the Press that day (the guests that day were Joe Biden and Tom Friedman).  Mr. Obama never made these statements – on Meet the Press or anywhere else; and not on September 7, 2008 or at any other time.  Politifact calls this rumor “ridiculously, maliciously false”; this issue has also been addressed by and




Allegation #6:  A widely disseminated photograph shows Obama wearing “Muslim Garb”.


True or False:  False


image012 The Truth:
  This photograph was first published during the 2008 campaign by The Drudge Report – a right-wing website with a reputation for a complete lack of journalistic ethics (for example, it was this webpage that revealed the precise location in Afghanistan where England’s Prince Harry was deployed, forcing the British military to pull him out) – which claimed their source as someone from within the Clinton campaign.  Then-Senator Clinton denied any knowledge of this – and then pledged to fire any campaign staffer who turned out to be responsible – and then-Senator Obama said he would take her at her word.  The photo purportedly shows then-Senator Obama wearing “Muslim garb” (almost every right-wing report I have seen on this – and there have been several – uses the phrase “Muslim garb”.  Clearly this has become a right-wing “talking point”.).  The truth is that President Obama was in Kenya in 2006 as part of a 5-nation African tour – his natural father was from Kenya, and his paternal grandmother still lives there – where he was presented with this outfit as a gift from leaders of the local village (one of whom appears in the photo).  It is the traditional outfit of a village elder (not “Muslim garb”), and as a courtesy he tried it on.  President Bush and the Clintons, among others, have also tried on gifts of traditional clothing from other cultures (see below), which is the normal and expected protocol for such an occasion.  It would have been an insult to the village leaders had Obama not tried on the “garb”.  This photograph does not prove anything other than the fact that he tried on the outfit.  It does not prove he is a Muslim, any more than the photos below indicate that President Bush and the Clintons belong to the various cultures represented by the traditional “garb” they are wearing. 
 image015  image014




Allegation #7:  President Obama’s middle name (“Hussein”) proves he is a Muslim, and that he was named after Saddam Hussein


True or False:  False


The Truth:  Senator Obama’s middle name is in fact “Hussein”; his full name is Barack Hussein Obama, Junior.  His mother, Stanley Ann Dunham (a white woman from Kansas) and her parents were the primary parental figures in Obama’s life; Senator Obama’s natural father, Barack Hussein Obama, Senior, was from Kenya, and returned there after divorcing Obama’s mother when President Obama was just two years old.  In 1971 (after a 5-year marriage), his mother left his stepfather, Lolo Soetoro, when President Obama was just ten years old.  All three parents – President Obama’s mother and both his natural father and his stepfather – are now deceased.  President Obama was raised as a Christian, primarily by his maternal grandparents.  Even during the four years he and his mother lived in Indonesia with his stepfather (who has been described as “a non-practicing Muslim”), he attended a Catholic parochial school for two of the years and the regular neighborhood school for the other two years.  His middle name proves nothing – it is his upbringing that determines his faith, and he was raised as a Christian.


As for his being named after Saddam Hussein, this is just ridiculous.  Senator Obama was born in 1961; Saddam Hussein did not rise to power until the 1970’s.  Furthermore, he is Barack Hussein Obama, Junior – he was obviously named after his father, Barack Hussein Obama, Senior.  Barack Senior had the middle name of “Hussein” because he was named after his father (President Obama’s paternal grandfather, Hussein Obama), meaning that the middle name of “Hussein” clearly pre-dates the rise of Saddam Hussein by decades.


By the way, “Hussein” was the name of a famous Persian military general who fought during the Crusades, and is a very common name in that part of the world.  The late King Hussein of Jordan – one of the most moderate leaders in the Middle East and a strong ally of the United States during his reign – is just one example.



Allegation #8:  Then-Senator Obama was endorsed by the Black Muslim leader Luis Farrakhan.


True or False:  True, but with a caveat


The Caveat:  Luis Farrakhan did in fact endorse then-Senator Obama for President, but Obama has very publicly “denounced and rejected” Farrakhan and has refused to accept the endorsement.  The simple fact is that Obama does not have any control over Farrakhan, and cannot be held responsible for Farrakhan’s actions or words.



Allegation #9:  President Obama is not a natural-born citizen of the United States, and is therefore ineligible to serve as President


True or False:  False


The Truth:  This allegation first surfaced during the 2008 Presidential campaign.  In response, then-Senator Obama took the extraordinary step of publicly releasing his “Certification of Live Birth” (also known as a “Short-Form Birth Certificate”), something no other Presidential candidate had ever done.  He even posted it online for all to see – and here it is:




In November of 2008, officials from the State of Hawaii – specifically Chiyome Fukino, the Director of Hawaii’s Department of Health, and Alvin Onaka, the Registrar of Vital Statistics (whose signature stamp appears on the back side of the certificate) – publicly verified the authenticity and accuracy of the “Certification of Live Birth”;  Fukino said she and Onaka had “personally seen and verified that the Hawaii State Department of Health has Senator Obama’s original birth certificate on record in accordance with state policies and procedures.”  Even Linda Lingle, the RepublicanGovernor of Hawaii at the time, said that President Obama was indeed born in Hawaii.  The non-partisan examined the “Certification of Live Birth” and determined that it was an authentic document, even posting high-resolution photos showing the raised state seal, Mr. Onaka’s signature stamp, and even the document number.  You can examine the photos for yourself:


 image021  image023  image025

Questions that have been brought up by the so-called “birthers” – the name given to those who believe this allegation to be true – include why the document number was blacked out on the copy posted by the campaign (according to a campaign spokesperson, they were in a hurry to post the Certificate and, being unsure of the legal implications, erred on the side of caution due to identity-theft concerns), why the date shown on the signature stamp is in 2007 when the document wasn’t posted by the campaign until 2008 (the campaign requested and received the document when then-Senator Obama began his Presidential bid in 2007, but didn’t post it online until the “birther” controversy erupted in 2008), and why only the “short from” was made available (the Hawaii Department of Health’s birth record request form does not give the option to request a photocopy of your long-form birth certificate, but their short form has enough information to be acceptable to the State Department for proof of citizenship).  They also claim that Hawaii will issue a short-form birth certificate to someone born elsewhere to Hawaiian parents, but if this were the case the Certificate would not list “Honolulu” as the “City, Town or Location of Birth”.


Despite all this evidence, the birthers, most of whom believe President Obama was born in Kenya, continue to insist that President Obama is not a natural-born citizen, claiming that the posted certificate is a forgery.  This would necessitate a conspiracy that included not only President Obama, but the Hawaiian officials (including the Republican Governor) and a multitude of others from their respective departments.  There is further evidence, however, that President Obama was born in Hawaii; birth announcements were published by both major Honolulu newspapers in August of 1961:


 image026  image028
in the Honolulu Advertiser


and in the Star Bulletin


The birthers argue that these announcements could have been put in the papers by President Obama’s grandparents, which is actually not true – these announcements come from information received from Hawaii’s Health Department, not from individuals – but let’s suppose this is possible just for the sake of argument.  In order for the birthers to be right about this, the conspiracy would have had to begin in August of 1961 and be instigated by President Obama’s grandparents who, on the off-chance that their mixed-race infant grandson would someday become President of the United States, posted the birth announcements in order to lay the groundwork for their grandson to claim natural-born status – all at a time when legal racial segregation still existed in the South.  In reality, however, both of these newspapers obtained the information for birth announcements – then as now – from the Hawaii Department of Health, meaning that this conspiracy would also have had to involve officials from the Health Department at the time.  Common sense would dictate that this is utterly ridiculous.


The other possibility, according to the more extreme birthers, is that the newspapers’ records have been altered, and fake birth announcements have been inserted to lend credence to President Obama’s claim that he is a natural-born citizen. This would have to have happened somewhere between 2004, when Obama’s keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention and his election to the Senate gave him enough national prominence to have a shot at running for President, and 2008, when the birther controversy erupted and the announcements were presented as evidence of Obama’s Hawaiian birth.  Considering that both the federal Government and the State of Hawaii were being governed by Republican Administrations during this entire period, it seems unlikely that this could have been a government operation, but the birthers would argue that Obama could have hired a private computer hacker to insert the fake announcements.  Can I prove that this didn’t happen?  No, but this seems to go far beyond “grasping at straws” to me, and is no longer worthy of serious discussion.  Tin-foil hat, anyone?


Given the choice between such unbelievably far-fetched conspiracy theories and the possibility that maybe – just maybe – President Obama was actually born in Honolulu just like his “Certification of Live Birth”, the local newspapers at the time, and all other available legitimate evidence would seem to indicate, it seems far more likely that he was actually born in Hawaii.


There is one more factor to consider on this:  President Obama’s mother, Stanley Anne Dunham, was a citizen of the United States (even the birthers would concede that she was born in Kansas), had lived in the United States all of her life to that point, and was 18 years old at the time of President Obama’s birth.  Just to humor the birthers, let’s say there are two possibilities – Barack Obama was either born in Hawaii (like his “Certification of Live Birth” and all legitimate evidence would indicate), or he was born somewhere else (most birthers would say he was born in Kenya).  The relevant federal law (Title 8, Section 1401 of the United States Code), reads as follows (pay close attention to subsection “g”):








Part I–Nationality at Birth and Collective Naturalization


Sec. 1401. Nationals and citizens of United States at birth


    The following shall be nationals and citizens of the United States

at birth:


(a) a person born in the United States, and subject to the

    jurisdiction thereof;


(g) a person born outside the geographical limits of the United States and its outlying possessions of parents one of whom is an alien, and the other a citizen of the United States who, prior to the birth of such person, was physically present in the United States or its outlying possessions for a period or periods totaling not less than five years, at least two of which were after attaining the age of fourteen years;


[NOTE:  Subsection (g) continues at length with provisions for military and other government employees who are abroad at the time of the birth in question – situations which wouldn’t apply to Obama.  Also, I left out subsections (b) through (f) because they address situations that are not applicable to President Obama’s parentage.  You can find the entire section by going to and searching for “8USC1401”.]


Subsection (a) would apply if President Obama was born in Hawaii or anywhere else in the United States or its possessions, and subsection (g) would apply if he was born anywhere outside the United States or its possessions – because his father was an alien and his mother was “a citizen of the United States who, prior to the birth of such person, was physically present in the United States or its outlying possessions for a period or periods totaling not less than five years, at least two of which were after attaining the age of fourteen years” – meaning that President Obama could have been born on the moon and he would still be a natural-born citizen of the United States under federal law – which just shows the sheer lunacy of this whole birther controversy!


According to the official, authentic, and verified-as-accurate “Certification of Live Birth”, President Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii on August 4th, 1961.  All other legitimate evidence verifies that this is true.  Under federal law, President Obama is “a person born in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof” and therefore he is a natural-born citizen of the United States.  Even if President Obama was born in Kenya, the fact that his mother was a citizen of the United States and had been “physically present in the United States or its outlying possessions for a period or periods totaling not less than five years, at least two of which were after attaining the age of fourteen years” would make President Obama a natural-born citizen under federal law anyway.


There is nothing left to question here – President Obama is a natural-born citizen of the United States and is therefore eligible to serve as President.  But the questions persist.  All I can say about this is that the nutcases will always be with us.


In April of 2011, the State of Hawaii (finally) released President Obama’s long form birth certificate, which verifies once and for all that he was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, on August 4th, 1961 – just as he has said all along, just as his “Certification of Live Birth” (aka “Short Form Birth Certificate”) had already proven, and just as anyone with any semblance of common sense already knew – and here it is:



Obama Long Form Birth Certificate - large

Not too surprisingly, the release of the long-form birth certificate has not entirely quelled the allegations that President Obama was born in Kenya – the more ardent among the birthers have claimed – already! – that the long-form birth certificate is also a forgery, specifically basing their allegations on three entries on the certificate.  According to these extreme birthers:


  • President Obama’s father’s birthplace is listed as “Kenya”, but since Kenya did not exist as an independent nation until 1963, a legitimate birth certificate could not possibly list his father’s birthplace as “Kenya”.
  • The Kapi’olani Maternity & Gynecological Hospital – which is listed as the hospital where the President was born – was not known by that name until 1978.
  • A birth certificate from 1961 would not have listed President Obama’s father’s race as “African” (it would have been listed as “negro” or “black”).


All three of these allegations are fraudulent!  Let’s examine each of them separately.


First, President Obamas’s father, Barack Hussein Obama Senior, was born in 1936 in what is now the nation of Kenya, which did in fact gain its independence from the British Empire in 1963, becoming the “Republic of Kenya” at that time.  However, it had been a British Colony – called the “Kenya Colony” (or “The British Crown Colony of Kenya”) since 1920.  Prior to that it had been under British rule as a Protectorate beginning in 1895, and was commonly referred to throughout this period simply as “Kenya”.  The President’s father’s place of birth is not listed as “The Republic of Kenya” on the President’s birth certificate, it is listed simply as “Kenya” – a name that was in common use for the Kenya Colony in 1936, when Barack Obama Senior was born there, and was still in common use in 1961, the year President Obama was born.


Second, the birthers are simply wrong – the hospital is actually listed correctly.  According to the hospital’s website, it was founded by Queen Kapi’olani in 1890 as the “Kapi’olani Home of the Hoolu and Hoola Lahui Society” (which translates as the “society to propagate and perpetuate the race”), changed its name to the “Kapi’olani Maternity Home” in 1918 when it began accepting women of races other than native Hawaiian, and changed its name again in 1931 to the “Kapi’olani Maternity & Gynecological Hospital” after moving to a larger building.  In 1971, the name was shortened to “Kapi’olani Hospital”, and in 1978 it merged with the Kauikeolani Children’s Hospital to become the “Kapi‘olani Medical Center for Women & Children” – the name it is known by today.  At the time of President Obama’s birth (1961), the hospital was indeed known as the “Kapi’olani Maternity & Gynecological Hospital” – just as it is listed on the birth certificate.


Third, the President’s father’s race is listed correctly.  Barack Hussein Obama Senior was not African-American because he was not from the United States; he was actually from Africa and was in Hawaii attending the University of Hawaii at Manoa on a student visa when he fathered the President.  While “negro” was typically listed as the race of African-Americans on birth certificates and other documents in the early 1960s, the term “African” was commonly used at that time for those who (like President Obama’s father) were actually native-born Africans, and it is therefore correctly listed as such on President Obama’s birth certificate.


These extreme birthers need to face the facts.  President Obama is just that – our nation’s President – and he meets the eligibility requirements for the position.  Get over it.  As President Obama has said, “We do not have time for this kind of silliness.”


UPDATE (5/1/2011):  President Obama used the White House Correspondents dinner to poke fun at the whole birther controversy last night, and truly seemed to enjoy himself.  Check it out for yourself – this is seriously funny stuff!




Allegation #10:  President Obama is the Anti-Christ.


True or False:  False


The Truth:  In this allegation, the term “Anti-Christ” is meant in the full biblical sense.  The allegation, which was widely circulated across the Internet, claims that a Biblical verse in the New Testament book “The Revelation of St. John the Divine” (aka “The Revelation to John” or “The Apocalypse of St. John the Apostle”, depending on which version of the Bible you are reading – most people just call it “The Book of Revelations”) describes the Anti-Christ as a man in his 40’s who comes from “a Muslim background”, and therefore somehow must refer to Barack Obama.


The first problem with this allegation is that President Obama does not come from “a Muslim background”.  I have already debunked this, and I’m not going to repeat myself here.  The second – and huge – problem with the allegation is that there is no such verse in The Revelation of St. John the Divine!  Whoever started this one just made it up.  Also, it should be pointed out that The Revelation of St. John the Divine was written somewhere between the years 68 AD and 96 AD (historians haven’t fixed the date any closer than that).  The Prophet Muhammed, who founded the religion of Islam, lived from 570 AD to 632 AD – hundreds of years after the The Revelation of St. John the Divine was written, meaning that Islam did not even exist when the supposed verse was written.  The third problem with the allegation is that, even if there were such a verse in The Revelation of St. John the Divine (there isn’t), and even if President Obama did come from “a Muslim background” (he didn’t), Barack Obama would certainly not be the only Muslim man on earth in his 40’s – why would the verse necessarily refer to him?  The answer is that it wouldn’t.  The whole allegation is beyond ridiculous.


Another facet of this allegation stems from a widely-viewed YouTube video that claims that Christ himself specifically named Satan as Barack Obama.   The video examines the Biblical verse Luke 10:18 (“And he said unto them, I beheld Satan falling from the heavens”) and, after going through some extremely dubious linguistic gymnastics to get from Greek to Aramaic to Hebrew, argues that in Hebrew the verse would be transliterated to say that Jesus saw Satan as “baraq ubamah.”  I’m not a linguist or a biblical scholar and therefore don’t consider myself qualified to assess the accuracy here, so I will defer to someone who is – Dr. Daniel B. Wallace, a professor of New Testament studies at Dallas Theological Seminary (a very conservative institution).  In his assessment (read it here), he concludes, “In the least, the linguistic torturing required to make the biblical evidence say this is beyond the pale of reason and, perhaps, sanity.”


So you can relax – President Obama is NOT the Anti-Christ.  Really.



Allegation #11:  President Obama ordered the United States Post Office to create a stamp honoring Islamic holidays.


True or False:  False


image032The Truth:  This rumor does have some basis in fact: the US Postal Service does indeed offer a “Holiday Celebration Series” of first-class stamps, which includes a stamp (shown at right) honoring the Islamic holidays of Eid al-Fitr (a 3-day festival celebrating the end of the month-long fasting during Ramadan) and Eid al-Adha (the festival at the end of Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca).  However, President Obama did not order their creation – these stamps were first issued ten days prior to the 9/11 attacks, on September 1st, 2001, a time when President Obama was a State Senator in Illinois.  These stamps have been reissued each time first-class postage rates have increased, which occurred four times during the Bush Administration (2002, 2006, 2007, and 2008), and once so far under President Obama (2009).  It is the 2009 reissue that seems to have triggered this email rumor, but all that really happened is that this stamp – along with every other first-class postage stamp offered by the United States Postal Service – was upgraded to the new postal rate.



Allegation #12:  President Obama ordered the phrase “In God We Trust” removed from the design of the new Gold Presidential Dollar coins.


True or False:  False


The Truth:  This rumor began all the way back in 2007, and was not – at least in the first round of emails – blamed on Barack Obama.   The first Presidential Dollar coins had the phrases “In God We Trust” and “E Pluribus Unum”, as well as the minting year, on the edge of the coins, rather than on the face of the coins (see the photos below).  The initial internet rumor claimed that the phrase “In God We Trust” had been omitted from the Presidential Dollar coins entirely.  This was false, and came about as a result of a small percentage (an estimated 50,000 out of 300,000,000 coins, or less than one-fifth of one percent) of the first George Washington dollar coins being inadvertently released without the edges having been minted on them.  The US Mint admitted and apologized for the error, and these smooth-edged coins are now hot collector’s items.  Later, this rumor was re-circulated on the internet, this time blaming President Obama for removing the phrase “In God We Trust” from the coins.


The Presidential Dollar coin series is being released in groups of four coins per year, in the order that the Presidents served in office.  Coins depicting those Presidents still living at the time their coin is scheduled to be released – which could include Jimmy Carter (scheduled for release in 2016) and George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama (all would be scheduled for release in 2017), and all subsequent Presidents – will not be released until after their death, because federal law prohibits the depiction of any living person on United States currency.  The first Presidential Dollar coins were released by the US Mint in 2007 – when George W. Bush was President – and included coins depicting the first four Presidents:  George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison (these included those George Washington coins released without the edge having been minted on them).  In 2008, four more coins were released, depicting Presidents James Monroe, John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson, and Martin Van Buren.  All of these coins (except for that one-fifth of one percent of the Washington coins) had “In God We Trust”, “E Pluribus Unum”, and the minting year on the edge of the coins (see the photos below).  After the initial outcry, legislation was passed altering the design so that, beginning with the coins released in 2009, all future Presidential Dollar coins have the phrase “In God We Trust” on the front face of the coins (see the picture below), leaving the phrase “E Pluribus Unum” and the minting year on the edge.


In her book Going Rogue, Sarah Palin accused President Obama as somehow being behind the decision to place the phrase “In God We Trust” on the edge of these coins, rather than on the face of the coins – a decision she considered to be “anti-God”, which started the new round of emails blaming President Obama for the design of the coins.  She was corrected on Fox News (of all places) where it was pointed out that the designer of the coins was Joel Iskowitz, who lives in Woodstock, New York – not Barack Obama – and that Iskowitz’s design of the Presidential Dollar Coin series was authorized by legislation passed by Congress back in 2005 – at a time when both Houses of Congress were controlled by the Republicans, and President Obama was just a freshman Senator from the minority party (although then-Senator Obama was one of 71 Senate co-sponsors of the bill) – and signed into law by then-President George W. Bush (In response to the outcry over placing “In God We Trust” on the coins’ edge, Congress later passed legislation moving the phrase to the face of the coins).  To argue that President Obama is somehow responsible for the decision of where to place the phrase “In God We Trust” on the design of these coins is obviously ridiculous – even Fox News said so!


As shown in these images, the first eight Presidential Dollar coins placed the phrase “In God We Trust” on the edge of the coins:


 image033  image034  image035

Beginning with the coins released in 2009, as seen in the image below, all Presidential Dollar coins have the phrase “In God We Trust” on the front face of the coins: