Why does it matter whether or not Barack Obama attended Muslim prayers as a child in Indonesia? His policy decisions (find a revealing list here) since he has been president provide an answer, as his childhood affinities appear to have laid the foundation for a lifelong affinity.
In any case, there is nothing much new in what this teacher says. The fact that Obama attended Muslim prayers at school in Indonesia, and was indeed registered as a Muslim in school, is detailed in Pamela Geller's book that I cowrote last year, The Post-American Presidency. Nor is this the first time that something we have in that book was trumpeted as hot breaking news; not too long ago the story of Obama's campaign contributions from Gaza was a big story, and Glenn Beck had the arrogance and discourtesy to represent these contributions as his team's discovery. In reality, it was Pamela who discovered those contributions, and the whole story is in the book -- which is probably where Beck's team found it. Pick up a copy, if you haven't already, to find out what next week's big revelation about Obama will be.
"Barack Obama joined Muslim prayers at school, teacher says," by Anne Barrowclough in the Times Online (via The Australian), November 8 (thanks to all who sent this in):
AS a schoolboy in Jakarta, Barack Obama attended Muslim prayer sessions with his classmates against the wishes of his mother.
The US President's former grade three teacher said that Mr Obama - who was known as "Barry" when he attended the Menteng One school in Jakarta - studied the Koran and went to classes on Islam, despite the objections of Ann Dunham, a Catholic.
The teacher's recollections will add to speculation about Mr Obama's links to Islam during his much-anticipated visit to Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, as part of his ten-day tour of Asia.
His middle name, Hussein, and the fact that his stepfather was a Muslim, have combined to perpetuate rumours about Mr Obama's religious leanings. The number of Americans who think that he is a Muslim has grown since his inauguration to one in five....
The teacher, Effendi, who taught at Menteng One for 29 years, remembers Mr Obama as a "fat, curly-haired, curious boy". The school had an international mix of pupils, including Christians, Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims.
Mr Obama attended classes on Islam while the Christians attended classes on Christianity, said Effendi. Barry, he said, was alone among the pupils in that he insisted on attending both.
"His mother did not like him learning Islam, although his father was a Muslim. Sometimes she came to the school; she was angry with the religious teacher and said 'Why did you teach him the Koran?'" said Effendi.
"But he kept going to the classes because he was interested in Islam. He would also join the other pupils for Muslim prayers."...