Pew: Many Americans don't know religion of either presidential candidate
The Pew report said that views of the candidates’ religious identifies were unlikely to shape the election in a major way.
July 26th, 2012
12:11 PM ET

Pew: Many Americans don't know religion of either presidential candidate

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) - Americans have limited knowledge of the presidential candidates’ religious faith, but their concerns about the candidates’ respective religious beliefs are unlikely to play a major role in the 2012 race, according to a Pew survey released Thursday.

Most Americans, 60%, know that presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is a Mormon; he would be the first member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints elected to the White House. Among those who are aware of Romney’s religion, 81% say that they are comfortable with it or that it doesn’t matter to them.

At the same time, 32% of Americans don’t know that Romney is Mormon, and another 9% identify him as the member of  another tradition, the Pew survey found. Earlier surveys have suggested that those who don’t know that Romney is a Mormon are less likely to vote for a Mormon candidate.

The Pew survey showed that only 49% of Americans identify President Barack Obama as Christian, though that number has grown from 38% two years ago.

Obama has repeatedly talked about his Christian faith, and his relationship with his controversial former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, was a major political liability during his 2008 presidential campaign.

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The Pew survey found that 17% of registered voters think Obama is a Muslim, while 31% say they do not know the president’s religion.

Thirty percent of Republicans say Obama is Muslim, Pew found, about twice as many who said that during the 2008 campaign.

The national survey was conducted from June 28 to July 9 among 2,973 adults, including 2,373 registered voters, by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life and the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.1 percentage points.

Despite misunderstandings about the faith of the candidates, the Pew report said that views of the presidential contenders’ religious identifies were unlikely to shape the election in a major way.

“Along religious lines, white evangelical Protestants and black Protestants, on the one hand, and atheists and agnostics on the other, are the most likely to say they are uncomfortable with Romney’s faith,” the Pew report said. “Yet unease with Romney’s religion has little impact on voting preferences.”

“Republicans and white evangelicals overwhelmingly back Romney irrespective of their views of his faith,” the report said, “and Democrats and seculars overwhelmingly oppose him regardless of their impression.”

At the same time, the comfort level with Romney’s religion appears to have an impact on enthusiasm for the former Massachusetts governor.

“Among Republican and Republican-leaning voters who say they are comfortable with Romney being Mormon, 44% back him strongly,” the Pew report said. “Among those who are uncomfortable with it, just 21% say they back him strongly.”

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When it comes to Obama’s religion, just 45% of voters say they are comfortable with it. But among the half of Americans who correctly identify Obama as a Christian, comfort level with his beliefs is much higher: 82%.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: 2012 Election • Mormonism • Politics • Polls

soundoff (886 Responses)
  1. Reality

    President Obama rode to the Blood-Red House on the backs of 35+million aborted womb-babies!!!

    What BO can do to at least lift part of the Immoral Majority leader label?

    He says abortions should be "safe, legal and rare" but says nothing about the basic tenet of proper human conduct i.e. Thou Shalt Not Kill. And where is BO's sense of indignation that abortions are not rare and that these acts of horror demean the Golden Rule considering that he says he is a Christian. And where is his sense of indignation that women who use the Pill do not use it properly resulting in an failure rate of 8.7% as per the Gu-ttmacher Inst-itute statistics. Using these and other Gu-ttmacher Insti-tute data, this failure of women to use the Pill properly results in ~1,000,000 unplanned pregnancies every year. And the annual abortion rate in the USA is?? ~1,000,000 as per the CDC.

    And do males use co-ndoms properly? No, as said failure rate for this birth "control" method is 17.4%!! Again using Gu-ttmacher data, said failure rate results in another ~1,000,000 unplanned pregnancies every year.

    Bottom line: BO is still not aware of the basics of birth control and still remains the leader of the Immoral Majority and will remain so until he becomes a true Christian and one who respects and protects human life in all its forms and who at least emphasizes the PROPER USE of birth control methods!!!

    . The "Immoral Majority" you ask?

    The fastest growing USA voting bloc: In 2008, the 70+ million "Roe vs. Wade mothers and fathers" of aborted womb-babies" whose ranks grow by two million per year i.e. 78+ million "IM" voters in 2012.

    Some added data and notes:

    From the Guttmacher Insti-tute- August 2011

    "In 2008, 1.21 million abortions were performed, down from 1.31 million in 2000. However, between 2005 and 2008, the long-term decline in abortions stalled. From 1973 through 2008, nearly 50 million legal abortions occurred.[2]"

    i.e. making the number of Immoral Majority members more like 100 million in 2012. (age range 16- 79) (life expectancy in 2012 is ~ 79)

    More from Guttmacher:

    "• Fifty-four percent of women who have abortions had used a contraceptive method (usually the condom or the pill) during the month they became pregnant. Among those women, 76% of pill users and 49% of condom users report having used their method inconsistently, while 13% of pill users and 14% of condom users report correct use.["

    And if half of these aborting "mothers and fathers" have had two abortions, the Immoral Majority would still be a huge voting bloc i.e. ~50 million, enough votes to give any presidential candidate the differential votes needed considering many voters vote straight Democratic or Republican tickets no matter what the issues are.

    ( "There are roughly 55 million registered Republicans. There are roughly 72 million Democrats. And there are roughly 42 million registered independents. )

    Read more: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_many_registered_republican_voters_are_there_in_America#ixzz1n7ShWVn4

    July 27, 2012 at 8:05 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Get a clue, fvck-tard. Abortion is legal and has been for longer than it was ever illegal. The majority of US citizens don't want to see R v W overturned.

      When you grow a uterus, you get to choose what to do with it. Until then, shut your yap.

      July 27, 2012 at 10:05 am |
    • Reality


      July 27, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
  2. Christian

    Obama may profess to be a Christian but proffession without action is like a plane without wings-it won't get you anywhere. Atleast Romney is true to his faith while BO says "I hate gays" then the polls show that Americans accept gays so around election time BO says "I love gays" to get the attention of the majority of the people (liberals).

    July 27, 2012 at 12:53 am |
    • Andy

      When has Obama expressed even a remote hostility towards gays? You sir are a f***ing mor0n

      July 27, 2012 at 4:01 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      I hope your god finds those lies pleasing. I'm sure He's extremely proud of you for helping Him out like this, since He can't defend himself and has to hide behind a bunch of grannies.

      July 27, 2012 at 9:51 am |
  3. Reality

    Bottom line: Romney is Mormon because he was born Mormon. Should we hold this against him? After all, BO also believes in "pretty/ugly wingie thingies, bodily resurrections and atonement mumbo jumbo.

    Warren Buffett, THE AGNOSTIC, for President !!!!
    Bill Gates, THE AGNOSTIC for VP !!!!

    One should be voting based on rational thinking. Believing in angels, satans, bodily resurrections, atonement, and heavens of all kinds is irrational.

    Apparently, BO and MR have been severely brainwashed in their theologically and historically flawed forms of Christianity and they are too weak to escape its felonious grip.

    July 27, 2012 at 12:10 am |
  4. AGuest9

    "Many Americans don't know religion of either presidential candidate"

    Good. Now, perhaps we can put a stop this ridiculous charade.

    July 26, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
  5. onestarman

    MAMMON – The Worship of Material Wealth (see Mitt Romney) Have you ever wondered why Romney seems so Much 'Not US'? It is because he thinks We are NOT like him. He has been taught that in 'His' Heaven he will be a God – along with Jesus and Jesus' BROTHER Lucifer and that Big God on the Star KOLOB will give Mitt his OWN PLANET (Screw the Earth) and US Non-Mormons why are 'Lucky' enough to be let into heaven become 'Ministering Angel SERVANTS to the MORMON GODS

    July 26, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
    • Allen Ginsberg

      "What sphinx of cement and aluminium bashed open their skulls and ate up their brains and imagination?
      Moloch! Solitude! Filth! Ugliness! Ashcans and unobtainable dollars! Children screaming under the stairways! Boys sobbing in armies! Old men weeping in the parks! Moloch whose mind is pure machinery! Moloch whose blood is running money! Moloch whose fingers are ten armies! Moloch whose breast is a cannibal dynamo! Moloch whose ear is a smoking tomb!"

      July 27, 2012 at 9:55 am |
  6. Sai

    Obama helped turn around the freefalling economy that lost record numbers of jobs in the last year of President Bushes term and got us back on a track to fiscal responsibility.

    July 26, 2012 at 7:56 pm |
    • Mitt Rmoney

      "Obama helped turn around the freefalling economy" That swine! How DARE he do that? I say we must throw him out of office and get back to wasting money at once.

      July 27, 2012 at 9:56 am |
  7. Sai

    Mitt Romney pledged his life and his heart to the Mormon Church with his right hand on the book of Mormon.

    July 26, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
  8. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    July 26, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
    • Mitt Rmoney

      Sure, the terrorists prayed as they smashed those planes into our buildings. Actions change things, prayer just makes you feel all squishy inside knowing you are a superior person and god wuvs oo. Please don't hunt me down and kill me for saying that.

      July 27, 2012 at 10:02 am |
  9. Sai

    Sen. Dianne Feinstein said Monday that the White House bears responsibility for some of the recent national security leaks, during an interview at a World Affairs Council forum.

    “I think the White House has to understand that some of this is coming from their ranks,” Feinstein said.

    July 26, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
  10. Sai

    Emails released by Congressional investigators suggest that the White House helped secure a lucrative contract for the firm of former White House adviser David Axelrod to lobby on behalf of the president’s controversial health care law, the Wall Street Journal reports

    July 26, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
  11. Sai

    Mitt Romney made millions by chopping up American companies and sending the job's overseas.

    July 26, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
  12. Sai

    One of the largest donors to the pro-Obama Super PAC Priorities USA is the founder and former CEO of a company that pioneered the practice of shipping work overseas.

    July 26, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
  13. Sai

    Nearly 80 percent of Obama’s major donors in 2008 received political appointments, such as ambassadorships and other administration posts, the New York Times reported Wednesday in an article focusing on the president’s reelection woes

    July 26, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
  14. Sai

    State Rep. Connie Howard, a Chicago Democrat who endorsed Barack Obama in February, resigned early this month as prosecutors investigate alleged corruption

    July 26, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
  15. Sai

    Obama’s “you didn’t build that” speech has cost him big time among entrepreneurs

    July 26, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      You think these people planned to vote for him?

      Anyone who saw the whole section of the speech (not taken out of context) knows what he meant.

      July 26, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
    • Mass Debater

      "Obama’s “you didn’t build that” speech has cost him big time among entrepreneurs"... who have so little brain they cannot keep more than 3 seconds of any sentence in their heads at a time, thus making it seem to them that Obama said they didn't build their business. For the rest of America who can actually listen and comprehend what was said, it cost the President nothing and likely gained him support for his crazy new idea that Americans work together to achieve greatness.

      July 26, 2012 at 7:40 pm |
    • Mitt Rmoney

      I said the same thing two years ago, and it's still true: you build your business with the help of roads, banks, law and order, stable currency, open commerce, and fair wages. Take your effin' business to Somalia and try to keep it open there if you don't see my point yet. You can only sell fried chicken to people if there are people with money, chickens to fry, and no banditos are shooting up your parking lot during lunch.

      July 27, 2012 at 10:06 am |
  16. Sai

    The Energy Department attempted to help an Obama money-man recoup his losses from the bankrupt, federally backed solar panel company Solyndra ahead of taxpayers.

    July 26, 2012 at 7:31 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      Yawn, snore. Solyndra was Dubya's project.

      July 27, 2012 at 11:46 am |
  17. Sai

    Obama’s campaign and administration emphasize different parts of Obamacare to different audiences depending on their racial makeup, according to a report in Politico.

    July 26, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
  18. Sai

    Maryland Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley is now touting the state’s 1,200 job losses in 2012 as a strength in the face of a damning report tying tax increases to major job losses.

    July 26, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
  19. Sai

    The hope and change the Democrats had in mind was nothing more than a retread of the failed and discredited socialist policies that have been the enemy of freedom for centuries all over the world. I fear America is teetering towards tyranny.

    July 26, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
    • Mass Debater

      I'm glad you think the 18 months the President had before the Republicans took control of congress was enough for him to "try out" his so called (only by you and morons like you) socialist agenda. If there are two thing to really fear in America they are the fearmongering and the ignorance.

      July 26, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      That's a quote from Jim DeMint. Sai is a postbot, just copying quotes from its database. Don't answer it, just click report when you see it.

      July 27, 2012 at 11:50 am |
  20. Michael

    It's mind-boggling that a candidate's religion is still seen as relevant in the modern US.

    It's worth remembering that the principal founding fathers (Washington, Franklin, Adams, e.g.) were deists. Look up the Treaty of Tripoli, signed by President Adams; it specifically states that the US is not in any way founded on the Christian religion.

    July 26, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
    • junior

      President Kennedy was given the third degree on grounds that he was Catholic and he would employ his faith in the presidency.

      July 26, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV


      Indeed. Yet, here we are, 40 years on, nothing has changed, including Article VI.:
      "... but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."

      Yet here we are, still applying religious tests in the trial by media.

      July 26, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
    • Jean Sartre

      Almost correct...Treaty of Tripoli 1796-97 was signed into law by none other than President George Washington.

      July 26, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Washington's Presidency ended in March 1797.

      The treaty was signed by John Adams as President in June 1797. (Washington is the one who caused it to happen.)

      July 26, 2012 at 7:57 pm |
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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.