5 Wacky Myths about Obama

Separating Fact From Fiction About Our 44th President

President Obama and First Family lighting the national Christmas tree
US National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony. Paul Morigi/Wireimage

If you believe everything you read in your email inbox, Barack Obama is a Muslim born in Kenya who is ineligible to serve as U.S. president and he even charters private jets at taxpayer expense so the family dog Bo can go on vacation in luxury.

And then there is the truth.

No other modern president, it seems, has been the subject of so many outrageous and malicious fabrications.

The myths about Obama live on through the years, mostly in chain emails forwarded endlessly across the Internet, despite being debunked over and over again.

Here is a look at five of the silliest myths about Obama:

1. Obama is Muslim.

False. He is a Christian. Obama was baptized at Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ in 1988. And he has spoken and written often about his faith in Christ.

"Rich, poor, sinner, saved, you needed to embrace Christ precisely because you had sins to wash away - because you were human," he wrote in his memoir, "The Audacity of Hope."

"... Kneeling beneath that cross on the South Side of Chicago, I felt God's spirit beckoning me. I submitted myself to His will, and dedicated myself to discovering His truth," Obama wrote.

And yet nearly one in five Americans - 18 percent - believe Obama is a Muslim, according to an August 2010 survey conducted by The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

The are wrong.

2. Obama Nixes National Day of Prayer

Numerous widely circulated emails claim President Barack Obama refused to recognize the National Day of Prayer after taking office in January of 2009.

"Oh Our wonderful president is at it again .... he has cancelled the national day of prayer that is held at the white house every year .... sure glad I wasn't fooled into voting for him!" one email begins.

That's false.

Obama issued proclamations setting the National Day of Prayer in both 2009 and 2010.

"We are blessed to live in a Nation that counts freedom of conscience and free exercise of religion among its most fundamental principles, thereby ensuring that all people of goodwill may hold and practice their beliefs according to the dictates of their consciences," Obama's April 2010 proclamation read.

"Prayer has been a sustaining way for many Americans of diverse faiths to express their most cherished beliefs, and thus we have long deemed it fitting and proper to publicly recognize the importance of prayer on this day across the Nation."

3. Obama Uses Taxpayer Money to Fund Abortions

Critics claim that the health care reform law of 2010, or Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, includes provisions that make up the broadest expansion of legalized abortion since Roe v. Wade.

"The Obama Administration will give Pennsylvania $160 million in federal tax funds, which we've discovered will pay for insurance plans that cover any legal abortion," Douglas Johnson, legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee, said in a widely circulated statement in July 2010.

Wrong again.

The Pennsylvania Insurance Department, responding to claims that federal money would fund abortions, issued a stern rebuttal to anti-abortion groups.
"Pennsylvania will - and has always intended to - comply with the federal ban on abortion funding in the coverage provided through our federally funded high risk pool," the Insurance Department said in a statement.

In fact, Obama signed an executive order banning the use of federal money to pay for abortion in the health care reform law on March 24, 2010.

If the state and federal governments stick to their words, it does not appear taxpayer money will pay any part of abortions in Pennsylvania or any other state.

4. Obama Was Born in Kenya: The Birther Theory

Numerous conspiracy theories claimed that Obama was born in Kenya and not Hawaii and that because he was not born in the United States, he was not eligible to serve as president. Eventually tagged the “birther theory,” the rumors grew so loud that Obama released a copy of his Hawaiian certificate of live birth during the presidential campaign on April 27, 2011.

"Smears claiming Barack Obama doesn't have a birth certificate aren't actually about that piece of paper - they're about manipulating people into thinking Barack is not an American citizen," the Obama campaign said. "The truth is, Barack Obama was born in the state of Hawaii in 1961, a native citizen of the United States of America."

While the documents proved Obama was born in Hawaii, not all of the doubters were convinced. In the years leading up to his successful 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump became one of the most outspoken supporters of the birther movement. The strategy gained Trump the support of the sizable number of far-right Republicans who believed President Obama was foreign-born or a Muslim or both.

As the GOP presidential nominee in 2016, Trump, at last, conceded that “President Barack Obama was born in the United States. Period.” He then falsely claimed to have compelled Obama to release his Hawaiian birth certificate, stating, “I am really honored and I am really proud, that I was able to do something that nobody else could do.” Trump then doubled-down by repeating the long-debunked conspiracy theory that it had been his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton who had actually started the controversy questioning Obama's place of birth.

5. Obama Charters Plane for the Family Dog

Uh, no.

PolitiFact.com, a service of the St. Petersburg Times in Florida, managed to track down the source of this ridiculous myth to a vaguely worded newspaper article in Maine about the first family's vacation in the summer of 2010.

The article, about the Obamas visiting Acadia National Park, reported: "Arriving in a small jet before the Obamas was the first dog, Bo, a Portuguese water dog given as a present by the late U.S. Sen Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., and the president's personal aide Reggie Love, who chatted with Baldacci.

Some folks, eager to jump on the president, mistakenly believed that meant the dog got its own personal jet. Yeah, really.

"As the rest of us toil on the unemployment line, as millions of Americans find their retirement accounts dwindling, their hours at work cut, and their pay scale trimmed, King Barack and Queen Michelle are flying their little doggie, Bo, on his own special jet airplane for his own little vacation adventure," one blogger wrote.

The truth?

The Obamas and their staffer traveled in two small planes because the runway where they landed was too short to accommodate Air Force One. So one plane carried the family. The other carried the Bo the dog - and lots of other people.

The dog did not have its own private jet.

Updated by Robert Longley

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Murse, Tom. "5 Wacky Myths about Obama." ThoughtCo, Sep. 4, 2021, thoughtco.com/wacky-myths-about-obama-3322183. Murse, Tom. (2021, September 4). 5 Wacky Myths about Obama. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/wacky-myths-about-obama-3322183 Murse, Tom. "5 Wacky Myths about Obama." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/wacky-myths-about-obama-3322183 (accessed February 6, 2023).