August 19th, 2010
01:02 AM ET
Only a third of Americans say Obama is Christian; almost one in five say he's Muslim
A substantial and growing chunk of the country believes that President Obama, a self-described Christian, is Muslim, while only about a third of Americans are able to correctly identify his religion, according to a survey released Thursday.
Nearly one in five Americans believe Obama is a Muslim, up from around one in 10 Americans who said he was Muslim last year, according to the survey, conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.
While most of those who think Obama is Muslim are Republicans, the number of independents who believe he is Muslim has expanded significantly, from 10 percent last year to 18 percent now.
The number of Americans who express uncertainly about the president's religion, meanwhile, is much larger and has also grown, including among Obama's political base. For instance, fewer than half of Democrats and African-Americans now say that Obama is Christian.
In March 2009, 36 percent of African-Americans said they didn't know what religion Obama practices. Now, 46 percent of African-Americans say they don't know.
"You would think the longer the person is in the White House, the more the 'don't knows' would decline," said Alan Cooperman, the Pew Forum's associate director for research. "But the 'don't knows' are higher now than when he came to office."
The survey was conducted in late July and early August.
Though Obama advertised his Christianity on the campaign trail and early in his administration - including distributing pamphlets about his religion during the 2008 presidential race and inviting the Rev. Rick Warren to his inauguration - he has been less public about his faith since then.
Despite intense media speculation about which Washington church Obama would join, for example, the White House has yet to announce that he has joined any.
"We had eight years of George W. Bush, who was very public about religious debates and high profile about religious practice and that's followed by Barack Obama, who is much lower profile about religious beliefs and practices," Cooperman said.
"It could be that in the relative vacuum of information coming out of the White House about his personal religious beliefs, others step in to feel the breach," Cooperman said. "It allows others who say that 'Oh, he's really this or that' to gain some currency."
Joshua DuBois, executive director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, said Wednesday night that Obama has "expanded in a historic way the engagement of persons of faith by this administration."
The president has given six speeches on faith issues, DuBois said, and has launched the first-ever White House advisory council for the faith-based office, composed largely of religious leaders.
"A lot of these facts are not necessarily what the public and the media are focused on everyday, which is not surprising given the issues we're facing as a country: reforming health care, bringing the troops home from Iraq and the economic recovery," DuBois said in an interview.
False rumors that Obama is Muslim have dogged him since he declared his candidacy for president in 2007. Pew conducted its survey before the president's comments last week about the right of Muslims to proceed with a controversial proposal for an Islamic center and mosque near ground zero.
The Rev. Joel Hunter, a Florida evangelical who is in frequent touch with Obama, says their relationship belies the findings of the new survey.
"He is very definitely a Christian, but a lot of the things he does to work on spiritual formation are simply not public," Hunter said.
Hunter said that he is in weekly contact with the president about his spiritual life, including writing devotionals for Obama and praying with him via telephone. Hunter said he received a call from Air Force One on the president's 49th birthday earlier this month.
"Several of us (Christian pastors) prayed with him over the phone," Hunter said. "We talked about his life and what he wanted us to pray for and it was at his initiative."
Earlier, when the president learned Hunter's grandchild had been stricken with cancer, the Florida preacher said he received a call from the White House.
"He called and told me that he and Michelle were praying for us," Hunter said, referring to the first lady. "I explained that this was an aggressive form of cancer and he pastored me, saying the Lord would be with us through this and that we should trust in God. It was a real reversal of roles."
But Hunter said the administration may want to reconsider its messaging on religion in light of the Pew poll.
"It may be time for them (the White House) to be a little more public about what the president does to be an active Christian," he said.
About this blog
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.
Erm, so? Say just for the sake of argument that he is (or isn't), is it supposed to be a big deal? I'm dyslexic and I believe in DOG.
Most of the people on this blog who are in opposition to the building of this mosque are no less than ignorant in their own understanding. They say that a mosque cannot be built out of shear hatred rather than moderation. Those who died in the sept 11 attacks were of all walks of life and all religions (INCLUDING MUSLIMS) ..they were all for the most part Americans and yet the notion is that only christians were killed. For those who say Obama is muslim or anti-American or just careless what do u say about Bush ,who in the previous 8 years that he sat in office turned Americans against Muslims (obviously because of sept 11), blacks in the outpour of Katrina, spanish in the mexican border/immigration fiasco, and just about all races that are not white. Whatever u may believe as a bias, clearly none of u have read into the religion that recognizes all prophets for their teachings and acknowledges a natural way of peace and understanding in life and social matters. What is their to be said of any extremists whether muslim or not..they are extremists they have perverted thier undertanding to a point to which they swear their right in their ways. could we see the acts of the Ku Klux Clan as a profound initiative of all whites or christians?..lets send troops there. Islam is a religion encompassing all races black white red or green..do u negate the height of its contribution to advancement of the sciences mathematics, logic, philosophy world law and knowledge to the world? Read people with a cool eye rather than a cold heart. People who understand are less likeley to tallk out of their drunk minds. Your hatred speaks ur demise..clowns
Willful ignorance. I bet this percentage of people overlaps strongly with the percetage of people who are Birthers. It's racism poorly masked.
Would that be because 1 in 5 Americans is retarded? No Brian, that means one in five can actually think for themselves.
Actions speak louder then words......Obama supports the Mosque building....Obama who is "Christian" does not attend church on Christmas.....Obama does not support national day of prayer.....Obama states in multiple speeches: "America is a Muslim Nation" Use common sense and figure it out for yourself!
Read your Bible. Being a Christian is believing in Christ. Its not about going to church or supporting a day of anything. All those other things are man made litmus tests..........put out there by those that profess to be Christian but can't and won't live as the Bible says. You are not saved by your deeds or works..that IS Scripture.
Well this proves people in this country are becoming idiots.
Yes Obama is a Muslim. His actions confirm this. When he claimed he was a Christian during the election and tapes were later made public that showed Obama speaking to a Muslim group and stating' that he was raised a Muslim; was educated as a Muslim; and that he is still a Muslim– people said it didn't matter. When people found out that Barrack Hussein Obama was enrolled as a Muslim child in school and his father and stepfather were both Muslims, people said it didn't matter. When he wrote in another book he authored "I will stand with them (Muslims) should the political winds shift in an ugly direction," people said it didn't matter.
And 4 out of 5 Democrats believe he's the Messiah...so what?
Well this just proves the people in this country are further becoming idiots.
I am so offfended by this it is insane- SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE!!!!!! Our president's faith is being questioned to be used as slander politically. If we really were a democratic nation instead of a nation of judgmental bigots, this would be an offensive topic to ponder, and also we should worry about the negative stereotypes are being imposed on the Muslim Americans in this culture. I am an athiest, and I think all of this discussion is sick, belief is an individual right- it is what we do with our faith that makes us good people. I have faith in people, and I am starting to lose my faith in them because of all of this hate. Use your faith for good, not to point fingers at what is different than you. Don't turn "Muslim" into a hate word.
I don't give a cr@p what his religion is. I'd rather he he didn't have one. But, at least he keeps it to himself, for the most part. I wish that Obama would continue to keep his beliefs personal. That would suit me fine.
I support our president and I think others should do the same rather than let their racist colors blind their comments.
Maybe, just maybe BO has seen the light about religion in general:
Some added thoughts for his perusal-
Recognizing the flaws, follies and frauds in the foundations of Islam, Judaism and Christianity by the "bowers", "kneelers" and "pew peasants" will quickly converge these religions into some simple rules of life. No clerics, imams, rabbis, professors of religion and priests needed or desired. Ditto for their houses and classes of "worthless worship". It will be called the great "Pink Slipping" of religion and its leaders.
John Hick, a noted British philosopher of religion, estimates that 95 percent of the people of the world owe their religious affiliation to an accident of birth. The faith of the vast majority of believers depends upon where they were born and when. Those born in Saudi Arabia will almost certainly be Moslems, and those born and raised in India will for the most part be Hindus. Nevertheless, the religion of millions of people can sometimes change abruptly in the face of major political and social upheavals. In the middle of the sixth century ce, virtually all the people of the Near East and Northern Africa, including Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Egypt were Christian. By the end of the following century, the people in these lands were largely Moslem, as a result of the militant spread of Islam.
The Situation Today
Barring military conquest, conversion to a faith other than that of one’s birth is rare. Some Jews, Moslems, and Hindus do convert to Christianity, but not often. Similarly, it is not common for Christians to become Moslems or Jews. Most people are satisfied that their own faith is the true one or at least good enough to satisfy their religious and emotional needs. Had St. Augustine or St. Thomas Aquinas been born in Mecca at the start of the present century, the chances are that they would not have been Christians but loyal followers of the prophet Mohammed. – Somerville
It is therefore very disturbing that religious violence and hatred continues unabated due to radomness of birth. Maybe just maybe if this fact would be published on the first page of every newspaper every day, that we would finally realize the significant stupidity of all religions. Or maybe BO will make a national address on the sad situation of religion in today's world and whether we really need all this worthless worship?
one in five eh?
the one must not watch fox news
what next death squads? oops sorry been there tried that
I think that 6 of 10 American believe that Barack Hussein Obama is Muslim who was born from Muslim father, Barack Hussein
Obama JR. There are 30 different ways to proof it ;
"In his April 6 address to the Turkish Parliament, President Obama referenced how many "Americans have Muslims in their families or have lived in a Muslim majority country. I know, because I am one of them."
Most of the people on this blog who are in opposition to the building of this mosque are no less than ignorant in their own understanding. They say that a mosque cannot be built out of shear hatred rather than moderation. Those who died in the sept 11 attacks were of all walks of life and all religions (INCLUDING MUSLIMS) ..they were all for the most part Americans and yet the notion is that only christians were killed. For those who say Obama is muslim or anti-American or just careless what do u say about Bush ,who in the previous 8 years that he sat in office turned Americans against Muslims (obviously because of sept 11), blacks in the outpour of Katrina, spanish in the mexican border/immigration fiasco, and just about all races that are not white. Whatever u may believe as a bias, clearly none of u have read into the religion that recognizes all prophets for their teachings and acknowledges a natural way of peace and understanding in life and social matters. What is their to be said of any extremists whether muslim or not..their extremists they have perverted thier undertanding to a point to which they swear their right in their ways. could we see the acts of the Ku Klux Clan as a profound initiative of all whites or christians?..lets send troops there. Islam is a religion encompassing all races black white red or green..do u negate the height of its contribution to advancement of the sciences mathematics, logic, philosophy world law and knowledge to the world? Read people with a cool eye rather than a cold heart. People who understand are less likeley to tallk out of their drunk minds. Your hatred speaks ur demise..clowns
LIb lib says that the 1 in 5 are misinformed because they are watching/listening/reading right wing news.
I just didn't know that a right wing outlet would be one that would put a known lie about McCain on the front page of their paper during an election year.
"As the son of the Muslim father, Senator Obama was born a Muslim under Muslim law as it is universally understood."
As lib lib knows, because they always talk about how enlightened they are", Muslims consider anyone born a Muslim to always be a Muslim.
I know I will be accused by lib lib of saying he is a Muslim, but lib lib should know that I never believe a word coming from the Ny Times.
The sheer willful ignorance that this belief that President Obama is a muslim illustrates is sad. We have people who intentionally spread lies about a man and we have people too stupid or too lazy to find out the truth, happy to continue the lies so they can retain their beliefs that they are "right". Is that what we've become, a nation of liars and idiots? It seems so. And unfortunately, a lot of these people are supposedly beholden by their religion not to lie and to search for some "truth". What does that say about them?
Does CNN or anyone else in the media think they have A LOT of responsibility for this?
I keep hearing the media say that they are suppose to have an "adversarial relationship" with government.
NO, they are suppose to INFORM the public.
Obviously, the media is failing the American voter.
All this proves is that Americans have poor listening comprehension and poor reading comprehension (or they don't read at all). Sounds about right.
What rock have these people been living under....!?!?!? Ignorance is at an all time high.....what you get when you listen to the likes of Coulter, Limbaugh, Geller, etc.......