11/13/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Clinging To Religion And Our Hotmail Accounts

I live in the South where the phrase "living in a small town, clinging to guns and religion" does accurately describe our way of life here. It is not necessarily a bad way of life. It is a simple life where ignorance can sometimes be bliss. We work hard, worship devoutly, and are the cornerstone of America. But, because of this simple life some of us can fall prey to propaganda and misinformation much the same way Jed Clampett believed in the Grunion invasion.

Sometimes we take things at face value, especially when supplied to us by people we respect and look up to here in the South, such as Sean Hannity, Pat Robertson or from our fellow church members with hotmail accounts. How can this email be wrong we ask ourselves? After all, it did come from Edna and she's president of the Lady's Church Guild for crying out loud. "Obama's gonna take away our guns and our bibles! Brace yourself parishioners! I just saw it on Fox News and it says so right here at! Spread the word!"

I get forwarded email all the time. "Obama is in league with terrorists" or "Obama the Muslim" or my personal favorite, "Oprah is a Monster, let's fall on our knees and pray for her." While Edna is a wonderful and upstanding member of the church community and makes a mean chicken spaghetti casserole, I hardly think she and Fox News should be my only source of information when it comes to this presidential election -- but my volume of forwarded email shows otherwise.

I used to just keep my mouth shut when I received such email. "Bless their naive hearts," I would say for their lack of informed wisdom and go on about my day, reading my NY Times, watching my Sunday news shows and MSNBC, and making progress with my Eckhart Tolle New Earth workbook supplied by Oprah Winfrey. But today I just snapped and I began answering those emails with actual facts to debunk the myths they were propagating. I simply hate ignorance. If you're going to make me believe Obama is actually a Muslim, then please, back up the claim by showing me an actual picture of his Senate swearing in ceremony with his hand upon a Koran for pity's sake! Use Photoshop if you have to!

I am a Southerner who likes tangible facts. I don't take things at face value. I dig deep, I examine Senate voting records and review stances on the issues. I pride myself in being an informed and enlightened voter. I already knew I was voting for Obama, despite being a registered Republican. I had examined the issues and determined that Obama was the right candidate for the job. But I had never addressed some of the things that the religious right wing wants my fellow church goers to believe until now - that Obama, despite the evidence to the contrary, is really a Muslim, in league with terrorists and that he pledges allegiance to Mother Africa via the Black Values System.

In debunking these myths I found I admire and like Obama even more than I actually did. Wow, how can that possibly be? You see, in my investigating and digging to actually provide proof against these preposterous claims, I found out that Obama is a devoted father, loving husband, and a devout and practicing Christian. I found out that Obama's church is a well respected pillar of the south side of Chicago and that the church is well respected among both blacks and whites in the community despite the Rev. Wright's sometimes controversial sermons.

I found out that William Ayers was a radical protester of the Vietnam War, hid underground, and then became a so called distinguished professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago and doesn't actually make apologies for his radical past. Obama has continually condemned the violent actions of the Weathermen group with which Ayers was involved. Any association with Obama as an 8 year old child helping Ayers plant bombs in statues is preposterous. I guess the religious and extreme right wing pray we Southerners can't do no Jethro cypherin' and figure that one out on our own.

I also found out the social context for which the Black Value System was adopted by the Trinity Church. Did you know that when Black Muslim groups first started to migrate to the South Side of Chicago in the 50's and 60's, Trinity Church embraced the tenants of the value system as a means to advance its Christian mission in an environment where blackness and Christianity were not tolerated in the community?

I also found out that "Liberation Theology" was born out of slavery and the Exodus story and the hope for something better. I find nothing racial, radical or un-American in that. We are a cultural melting pot. I think it's great to embrace our cultural heritage while prospering in this great land of ours. It's what we call "the American Dream" and Obama exemplifies this paradigm to the letter.

So, thank you extreme right wing for sending out this preposterous propaganda and having it forwarded to me by default. My curiosity for truth has made me like and admire Obama even more. Oh, and it's also enlarged my library with Oprah endorsed books too.