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October 22nd, 2010
12:23 PM ET

Letters to the President: #641 'When in India'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: President Obama is going to India next month. I went to Indiana last winter, so…well, I guess there is really no connection. Here is today’s letter.

Dear Mr. President,

We’ve chatted here before about your religion and I’ve made it clear that I trust you when you say you’re Christian. I do not really understand why so many people think you are a secret-ninja-Muslim, or whatever it is they think.

After all, I know plenty of people for whom the only evidence of their faith is what they say about it, or their once a year visit to church on Christmas to mumble during the prayers and look at their shoes a lot. Despite that, I don’t see the neighbors organizing an Inquisition.

So with all of that said, I want to believe your staff when they suggest your schedule of stops in India will be dictated entirely by your work, not some political fear of visiting a Sikh holy site where you’d be forced to where a head-covering. I want to think that as President of the United States you would be both strong and principled enough to call such crass political worries nonsense and beneath the dignity of the office.

Report: Obama to skip Sikh Temple in India partly out of head covering concern

Now, considering the accusations that are continually lobbed at you over your faith, I can also understand that you would not want to unnecessarily pour more gasoline onto that barbeque. But sometimes I think the appearance of running from something is actually more damning than standing and addressing it.

To that end, your man Gibbs should have said plainly from the get-go, “President Obama has no fear about wearing a headdress that shows respect to the beliefs of others, especially when they are his hosts in another country. To the contrary, he believes it shows the strength and openness of our own culture. Wearing a head covering at this site would no more make him Sikh than wearing a Yankees cap would make me a shortstop. And by the way, Sikhs are not Muslim, just in case you’re wondering.”

Don’t let this one twist in the wind much longer. If you are not going to the Golden Temple, and it really has nothing to do with the head covering issue, say it loud and often. And if it does have something to do with that…oh, don’t even tell me. I can’t take it.

Call if you get a moment, although it sounds like you’re pretty busy now, so I’ll understand if you can’t.

Regards,
Tom

Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. nancy

    Sir,
    I think President Obama's decision not to visit Amritsar could be more to do with security concerns.

    October 23, 2010 at 1:12 am |
  2. Annie Kate

    When in Rome do as the Romans do.....that describes how visitors to another country have been expected to behave to be polite. Obama should be a good guest regardless of what the extremists back here say. If its not a head covering they will find something else to hyperventilate over so might as well not worry about it.

    October 22, 2010 at 10:11 pm |
  3. Ahmad

    It doesn't matter what religion Obama practices, even if he's Muslim.

    October 22, 2010 at 5:06 pm |
  4. Ravleen

    Thank you for this! Sikhs are often overlooked by politicians and the media because they aren't loud and influential in elections. But they are an important faction of Americans. The Golden Temple is an important worldwide symbol of religious pluralism. It welcomes any visitors from any background, with the simple condition that you cover your head and take off your shoes. I think that if millions of people, from all different faiths, can comply with that, Obama should be able to as well.

    I have always viewed Obama as a man of dignity who tries his best to be above politics. I hope he will not prove me wrong.

    October 22, 2010 at 4:39 pm |
  5. GaryS

    Thanks for a very sensible advise to the President. I hope he does not pander to bigoted nuts which have a loud blow horn and who have vitiated the atmosphere in this country,

    October 22, 2010 at 1:14 pm |