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Too many Americans incorrectly call Obama Muslim

By ALAN FRAM
August 19, 2010

President Barack Obama (AP)

Americans increasingly are convinced — incorrectly — that President Barack Obama is a Muslim, and a growing number are thoroughly confused about his religion.

Nearly one in five people, or 18 percent, said they think Obama is Muslim, up from the 11 percent who said so in March 2009, according to a poll released Thursday. The proportion who correctly say he is a Christian is down to just 34 percent.

The largest share of people, 43 percent, said they don’t know his religion, an increase from the 34 percent who said that in early 2009.

The survey, conducted by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center and its affiliated Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, is based on interviews conducted before the controversy over whether Muslims should be permitted to construct a mosque near the World Trade Center site. Obama has said he believes Muslims have the right to build an Islamic center there, though he’s also said he won’t take a position on whether they should actually build it.

In a separate poll by Time magazine/ABT SRBI conducted Monday and Tuesday — after Obama’s comments about the mosque — 24 percent said they think he is Muslim, 47 percent said they think he is Christian and 24 percent didn’t know or didn’t respond.

In addition, 61 percent opposed building the Muslim center near the Trade Center site and 26 percent said they favor it.

The Pew poll found that about three in 10 of Obama’s fiercest political rivals, Republicans and conservatives, say he is a Muslim. That is up significantly from last year and far higher than the share of Democrats and liberals who say so. But even among his supporters, the number saying he is a Christian has fallen since 2009, with just 43 percent of blacks and 46 percent of Democrats saying he is Christian.

Among independents, 18 percent say Obama is Muslim — up from 10 percent last year.

Pew analysts attribute the findings to attacks by his opponents and Obama’s limited attendance at religious services, particularly in contrast with Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, whose worship was more public.

Andrew Kohut, the Pew Research Center’s director, said the confusion partly reflects “the intensification of negative views about Obama among his critics.” Alan Cooperman, the Pew Forum’s associate director for research, said that with the public hearing little about Obama’s religion, “maybe there’s more possibility for other people to make suggestions that the president is this or he’s really that or he’s really a Muslim.”

Obama is the Christian son of a Kenyan Muslim father and a Kansas mother. From age 6 to 10, Obama lived in predominantly Muslim Indonesia with his mother and Indonesian stepfather. His full name, Barack Hussein Obama, sounds Muslim to many.

White House officials did not provide on-the-record comments on the survey, but they prompted Pastor Kirbyjon Caldwell of Houston to call The Associated Press.

Caldwell, who said he has known Obama for years, said the president is a Christian who prays every day. He said he was not sure where the public confusion about the president’s religion came from, but he called false media reports about it “a 24-hour noise box committed to presenting the president in a false light.”

Six in 10 of those saying Obama is a Muslim said they got the information from the media, with the largest portion — 16 percent — saying it was on television. Eleven percent said they learned it from Obama’s behavior and words.

Despite the confusion about Obama’s religion, there is noteworthy support for how he uses it to make decisions. Nearly half, or 48 percent, said he relies on his religion the right amount when making policy choices, 21 percent said he uses it too little and 11 percent too much.

At the same time, the poll provides broad indications that the public feels religion is playing a diminished role in politics today, with fewer people than in 2008 saying the Democratic and Republican parties are friendly toward religion.

With elections for control of Congress just over two months away, the poll contains optimistic news for Republicans. Half of white non-Hispanic Catholics, plus three in 10 unaffiliated with a religion and a third of Jews, support the GOP — all up since 2008.

The survey also found:

  • The Democratic Party is seen as friendly to religion by 26 percent, while 43 percent say the same about the GOP. That’s a 9 percentage point drop for Republicans since 2008, and 12 points lower for Democrats.
  • Fifty-two percent say churches should stay away from politics, a reversal of the slim majorities that supported churches’ political involvement from 1996 to 2006.

The poll, overseen by Princeton Survey Research Associates International, involved landline and cell phone interviews with 3,003 randomly chosen adults. It was conducted July 21-Aug. 5 and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.

___

Online:

Pew Research Center: http://www.peoplepress.org

Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life: http://www.pewforum.org

Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press

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7 Responses to Too many Americans incorrectly call Obama Muslim

  1. Carl Nemo

    August 19, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    Something doesn’t wash with this President. He surely lied to the American people concerning the populist pleasing “change we can believe in” rhetoric on the campaign trail.

    He’s turned out to be a centrist with bias towards the old ways of doing business along with a socialist spin; ie. a chimera, a hybrid for the interesting times in which we live and for many to suffer.

    For sure he wouldn’t have been elected if he had publicly decreed he was a Muslim in these times. Seemingly in the early years of his life he was immersed in the Islamic faith. He surely knows how to roll the words Holy Qu’ran off his llips when speaking to large groups of Islamists.

    It’s my belief he’s a political product manufactured for our times; ie., a “synthetic president”, a chimera and we’re going to see more of his kind in the White House as the U.S. founders below the waves and becomes a third rate nation among nations; simply a broken “banana republic”.

    As demonstrated through his actions or lack thereof to date relative to the honest needs of the people and not the corporations; I simply don’t trust this man as well as the coterie of retread advisers, czars and other sycophants who’ve been responsible for engineering our current nightmarish national paradigm. In these seeming end times for the Republic and our way of life…”trust no one”…! : |

    *****

    “A society whose citizens refuse to see and investigate the facts, who refuse to believe that their government and their media will routinely lie to them and fabricate a reality contrary to verifiable facts, is a society that chooses and deserves the Police State Dictatorship it’s going to get.” … Ian Williams Goddard

    *****

    Carl Nemo **==

  2. Bogofree

    August 19, 2010 at 4:20 pm

    Certainly don’t want President WOW (Walk On Water) to listen to any loony Imam …much better to spend 20 years listening to Rev. Wright.

  3. woody188

    August 19, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    It’s like Mormons. I was born Mormon. They still find me and send missionaries my way trying to get me back. They still consider me Mormon even though I consider myself Lutheran.

    Muslims still consider Obama a Muslim since he attended a Muslim school in Indonesia under his adopted name Barry Soetoro. Many right-wing groups also still consider him to be Muslim. People change religions, typically when they marry, get over it.

    You are right though Carl, he isn’t the Constitutional Scholar he claimed to be. Maybe he was studying ways to circumvent it?

  4. Howard Hirsch

    August 20, 2010 at 8:02 pm

    A muslim? More idiocy by the ignorants out there. Think about it people (if that’s not asking too much). If he was a muslim, what kind of muslim would he be attending a catholic church for 20 years. You see any fatwa’s on your corn flakes box? Morons. The vast majority of the people in this country have the IQ of an ashtray and keep on proving it every day.

    • Carl Nemo

      August 20, 2010 at 8:58 pm

      Hi Howard,

      I read your posts and try to interface with you on occasion. You constantly refer to people as idiots having low IQ’s as in this piece. It’s always enjoyable to hear from folks on this site, but I wince when any reply is laced with various crude or hurtful epithets to shore up a patently mistaken position as in this case.

      Howard your are mistaken concerning Obama being Catholic. This concerns me because of all the things you could write, it’s the most errant I’ve read in recent memory. Here’s a link concerning the President’s religious bonafides with quotes from his book “Audacity for Hope”.

      http://atheism.about.com/od/barackobamareligionfaith/a/ObamaReligion.htm

      To me, he’s a “shapeshifter”, making him the perfect politician for the dark, shadowy corporate forces that which to control present and future politicians. I don’t think he believes in anything of substance other than himself and how to feather he and his family’s nest for the future. Understandable, but not traits we need for our President, our national leader.

      He’s going to be a one term president and set for life making huge sums on the lecture circuit like Bill Clinton and no doubt becoming a very wealthy man in years to come courtesy of an ill informed electorate such as myself and others.

      Carl Nemo **==

  5. Howard Hirsch

    August 23, 2010 at 12:17 am

    United Church of Christ? Slightly more christian than muslim, no?

  6. Howard Hirsch

    August 24, 2010 at 3:59 am

    “He’s going to be a one term president ”

    That depends largely on who the republicans put up against him. I seriously doubt any republican can beat him because they would have to pander to their base and their base is, well, base.