The Jewish Week | Connecting the World to Jewish News, Culture, and Opinion: "He is Muslim by patrilineal descent and what seems to be Islamic halacha.
As an op-ed contributor wrote in The New York Times in 2008, "In Islam, however, there is no such thing as a half-Muslim. Like all monotheistic religions, Islam is an exclusive faith. As the son of the Muslim father, Senator Obama was born a Muslim under Muslim law as it is universally understood. It makes no difference that, as Senator Obama has written, his father said he renounced his religion. Likewise, under Muslim law based on the Koran his mother's Christian background is irrelevant."
There is no provision in Judaism to renounce your religion, either.
So Obama is a Muslim because of his father -- patrilineal descent -- is one legitimate "halachic" position, although the topic has become so politicized it has rarely been seriously explored in most newspapers, Jewish or otherwise. The idea that Obama might be a Muslim was so quickly branded a slur by the left and the Obama camp, in particular, and protecting Obama had become uppermost in the minds of so many journalists, that most Americans haven't been exposed to an intelligent "comparative religion" discussion about this. The topic is often handled with a schoollyard brush-off, even in usually serious newspapers, by usually serious people: "He's not a Muslim, and you're stupid for saying so.""
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