During a 2009 interview on France's Canal+TV channel that is just now being reported widely, President Obama claimed that Americans needed to be better educated on Islam and that, if we compute the total number of Muslims in America, we would be one of the biggest Muslim countries in the world.
In stark contrast, and with reference to a number of President Obama's recent comments, Rev. Franklin Graham claimed that the president "was 'fundamentally mistaken' about radical Islam . . . and argued that Islam 'is a false religion' and that 'it is impossible for a false religion to be a true religion of peace.'"
Let's start with some simple math.
Recent surveys indicate that the Muslim population in America is slightly under one percent, so, to be generous, let's use one percent as the figure, which would mean that roughly three million Americans are Muslim. (Oddly enough, the MuslimPopulation.com website claims that 2.11 percent of Americans are Muslims, supporting this with a reference to a Wikipedia article that puts the figure at 0.8 percent!)
According to President Obama, this figure of three million Muslims would make us "one of the biggest Muslim nations."
Was he accurate? Not by a mile. Not by many, many miles. In fact, he was embarrassingly wrong and inaccurate.
Here's the list of the top 10 countries with more Muslims than America (as of 2012, with figures rounded off): 1). Indonesia 209 million; 2). India 177 million; 3). Pakistan 167 million; 4). Bangladesh 134 million; 5). Nigeria 77 million; 6). Egypt 77 million; 7). Iran 74 million; 8). Turkey 71 million; 9). Algeria 35 million; 10). Morocco 32 million.
How big is America's Muslim population looking right now? How does 3 million compare with 209 million of 177 million?
Uzbekistan, number 15 on the list, has 27 million Muslims; little Yemen, number 17, has 24 million; China, number 18, has 23 million, and Russia, number 21, has 16 million, more than 5 times our national total.
What was the president thinking?
In terms of world Islamic populations, America is about 38th on the list, meaning that we have one of the smaller Muslim populations worldwide, despite the size of our country.
The president's error, then, would be akin to a stating that the United States was one of the world's oldest civilizations. Not quite!
Seeing, then, that Mr. Obama was so grossly wrong in his assessment of our Muslim population (again, a matter of simple math), can he be trusted in his assessment of Islam in general?
Rev. Graham said, "I . . . believe our president is completely and fundamentally mistaken about the intolerant and violent nature of hardened Islamic followers."
So who is more accurate when it comes to the nature of Islam itself?
Without a doubt, there are tens of millions of peace-loving Muslims worldwide, including many American Muslims.
And without a doubt, there are Muslim theologians and political leaders who deplore the actions of groups like ISIS and Boko Haram.
This means that we make a serious mistake when we demonize all Muslims and treat them as if they were murderous terrorists.
In that respect, yes, we need to be better educated regarding Islam. Absolutely.
At the same time, it cannot be denied that large Islamic countries like Pakistan and Iran mistreat and persecute Christians (especially those who convert from Islam), sometimes to the point of death; that countries like Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan allow no true religious freedom for other faiths; and that there are a multiplicity of substantial terrorist groups using the Koran for justification, in glaring contrast with Christianity worldwide.
More importantly, even if 80-90 percent of Muslims are not radicals, this means absolutely nothing in terms of our recognition of the very real dangers posed by radical Islam. After all, what percentage of Germans were Nazis? If the large numbers don't prevent the small numbers from taking murderous action, why does that matter?
And should we snivel at a figure of, at the very least, 150 million radical Muslims worldwide?
What our president should be doing is recognizing the tremendous dangers posed by radical Islam and making every effort to ensure that our nation is addressing these dangers both here and abroad. (This includes not calling blatant Islamic terror attacks "workplace violence.")
To paraphrase what I've said before, while here in the West we are putting our heads in the sand, in other parts of the world, the heads of the victims of radical Islam are rolling in the sand.