WASHINGTON (JTA) — Barack Obama said in a 2004 interview that Judaism was as influential a factor "as any other faith" in defining his beliefs.
The transcript of the interview of the president-elect by Cathleen Falsani, a religion writer, was published Thursday in its entirety for the first time by the Web site beliefnet.
Falsani interviewed Obama just after he won the Illinois Democratic Party’s nomination for a U.S. Senate seat. She wrote up the interview in a Chicago Sun-Times piece at the time, and it later became part of her book “The God Factor: Inside the Spiritual Lives of Public People.”
"What do you believe?" she asked to start the interview.
"I am a Christian," he replied. "So I have a deep faith. So I draw from the Christian faith.
"On the other hand, I was born in Hawaii where obviously there are a lot of Eastern influences. I lived in Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in the world, between the ages of 6 and 10. My father was from Kenya, and although he was probably most accurately labeled an agnostic, his father was Muslim. And I’d say, probably, intellectually I’ve drawn as much from Judaism as any other faith."
In the same interview he names three people whom he looks to for guidance: His then-pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright; Michael Pfleger, a priest and community activist on Chicago’s South Side; and James Meeks, a colleague in the Illinois State Senate.
Obama has since broken with Wright and Pfleger over their radical views, including claims that U.S. policies help foment anti-Americanism overseas. Meeks also has stirred controversy because of his strident anti-gay rhetoric.