— From NBC/NJ's Aswini Anburajan
At a stop at Smoky Row Coffee Shop in Oskaloosa, Obama sat down to eat some pumpkin pie with four local women and ended up having to explain how he was not a Muslim.
An older woman seated at the table asked Obama to explain his Muslim
heritage, to which the candidate replied, "This is something that keeps
on being misreported, so I'm glad you asked me."
Obama was referring to an e-mail chain accusing him of being a Muslim
with an intent to undermine the United States. Early this year, false
reports also circulated that he had attended a madrassa as a child.
Obama explained his connection to Islam in this way:
"My father was from Kenya," he said, "and a lot of people in his
village were Muslim. He didn't practice Islam. Truth is he wasn't very
religious. He met my mother. My mother was a Christian from Kansas, and
they married and then divorced. I was raised by my mother. So, I've
always been a Christian. The only connection I've had to Islam is that
my grandfather on my father's side came from that country. But I've
never practiced Islam."
More: "For a while, I lived in Indonesia because my mother was teaching there. And that's a Muslim country. And I went to school. But I didn't practice. But what I do think it does is it gives me insight into how these folks think, and part of how I think we can create a better relationship with the Middle East and that would help make us safer is if we can understand how they think about issues."
"But I'm a member of the Trinity United Church of Christ and have been there 15 years," Obama added.
But the woman who asked the question still wasn't satisfied. She asked Obama to "define what a Christian is."
"Somebody who believes in Jesus Christ as our lord and savior," the senator responded.
"I'm so glad to hear that," she said.
Any other discussion of religion was quickly put to a close by campaign staffers, who ushered in a ruddy-cheeked little girl to talk with Obama.