"What if he were a Muslim? What if he were an atheist? Why should that matter? And let’s not forget that some of the same critics who insist that Obama is a Muslim criticized him for going to a Christian church where prayed for 20 years, got married, and baptized his children.”
Tobin Harshaw quotes Alan Colmes, and let me respond in list form:
1. Who are the critics who insist that Obama is a Muslim? The poll just said 20% of Americans believe Obama is a Muslim. That doesn't mean they "insist" that he is or that they are "critics." Isn't it funny when commentator puzzling over how Americans can believe such things displays his own propensity to leap to conclusions beyond what the evidence supports?
2. It would matter if Obama is really a Muslim or an atheist, because it would mean that he'd lied about religion — for political advantage. If you want to find out more generally whether Americans are willing to accept non-Christian candidates, show me how they respond to a candidate who doesn't purport to be a Christian. The candidate's fear of discrimination — if that's what happened — isn't fairly used to tar Americans as intolerant.
3. There's nothing inconsistent with thinking Obama is a Muslim and criticizing him for going to a Christian church for 20 years. The criticism about the church had to do with the preaching of Jeremiah Wright, which offended and outraged a lot of people during the 2008 campaign. Obama himself chose to denounce him and separate himself from Wright's church (Trinity).
4. Does Obama's past association with Trinity Church prove that he was (and is) a Christian? My source is "Dreams from My Father," chapter 14. While working as a community organizer, Obama was told that it would "help [his] mission if [he] had a church home" and that Jeremiah Wright "might be worth talking to" because "his message seemed to appeal to young people like [him]." Obama wrote that "not all of what these people [who went to Trinity] sought was strictly religious... it wasn't just Jesus they were coming home to." He was told that "if you joined the church you could help us start a community program," and he didn't want to "confess that [he] could no longer distinguish between faith and mere folly." He was, he writes, "a reluctant skeptic." Thereafter, he attends a church service and hears Wright give a sermon titled "The Audacity of Hope" (which would, of course, be the title of Obama's second book). He describes how moved he was by the service, but what moves him is the others around him as they respond to a sermon about black culture and history. He never says he felt the presence of God or accepted Jesus as his savior or anything that suggests he let go of his skepticism. Obama's own book makes him look like an agnostic (or an atheist). He respects religion because he responds to the people who believe, and he seems oriented toward leveraging the religious beliefs of the people for worldly, political ends.