It’s not true, but that doesn’t stop a lot — and we mean a lot — of Americans from believing it.
A new poll released today by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life finds that 18 percent of American adults believe that their president is an adherent of the Muslim faith — up from 11 percent last year.
Meanwhile, just 34 percent of Americans say that Barack Obama is a Christian, down from 48 percent a year ago.
Obama is a Christian Protestant.
The misperception about the president is strongest among Republicans. More GOP adherents insist that Obama is a Muslim than believe he is a Christian. Thirty-one percent say he is a Muslim, while 27 percent say he is a Christian and 39 percent say they’re not sure. That’s a massive turnaround in the minds of American Republicans. A year ago, by 47 percent to 17 percent, Republicans acknowledged that Obama is a Christian.
The Pew poll showed a direct relationship between approval of Obama’s job performance and beliefs about Obama’s religion. The more a voter hates Obama — just 7 percent of conservative Republicans approve of his job performance — the more likely he or she is to believe that their president is faithful to Islam. (Thirty-four percent of conservative Republicans say Obama is a Muslim; 28 percent say he’s a Christian.)
Catholics, Mainline Protestants and “unaligned” Americans are much more likely to call Obama a Christian than a Muslim. But more evangelical Christians say he’s a Muslim than a Christian.
“When asked how they learned about Obama’s religion in an open-ended question, 60 percent of those who say Obama is a Muslim cite the media,” the Pew analysis indicated. “Among specific media sources, television (at 16 percent) is mentioned most frequently. About one-in-ten (11 percent) of those who say Obama is a Muslim say they learned of this through Obama’s own words and behavior.”