Growing number of Americans say Obama is a Muslim

A new Pew poll finds that the number of Americans who say Pres. Obama is a Christian dropped from 48 percent in March of 2009 to 34 percent now. The portion who say he is a Muslim grew from 11 percent to 18 percent.

The poll was completed before Obama’s recent statement supporting the right of Muslims to build a mosque near Ground Zero in New York.

There was a strong correlation between those who approve of Obama and those who say he is a Christian, and vice versa for those who disapprove and say he is a Muslim. Full poll summary here.

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Comments (33)

  1. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 08/19/2010 - 08:45 am.

    A sad commentary on the ignorance of far too many of my fellow citizens, helped along by the unadmitted prejudices of far too many right-wing media personalities.

  2. Submitted by Steve Thompson on 08/19/2010 - 09:15 am.

    Less than 50 years ago, it was considered a huge deal that John F. Kennedy was a Catholic, at the time, it was considered a major handicap in his bid for the Presidency.

    Funny how that particular question about a President’s non-Protestant leaning seems so idiotic today, isn’t it?

  3. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 08/19/2010 - 09:35 am.

    Alert Drudge and the tinfoil hat sites – they will run with this story. It is a political post. I found some colored foil from a yard sale that seems to increase the wave lengths … I’ll be back…

  4. Submitted by Joe Schweigert on 08/19/2010 - 09:45 am.


    You’re missing one pretty big difference between Mr. Kennedy and Mr. Obmana. Kennedy was actually a Catholic. Obama is most definitely not a Muslim.

    That makes the whole thing not seem funny, as you say, but instead very sad.

  5. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 08/19/2010 - 09:56 am.

    Look for the handlers scheduling Obama into a few barbecues and a speech to the Pork Producers Association.

  6. Anonymous Submitted by Anonymous on 08/19/2010 - 10:09 am.

    Non-Protestant is the operative phrase.

  7. Submitted by John E Iacono on 08/19/2010 - 12:04 pm.

    It seems to me most folks know that Obama for years attended that Christin church with the cranky pastor that got him into trouble during the campaign.

    So I suspect that the current stuff is about being a muslim “sympathizer,” of which there is significant and growing evidence. But “playing politics” does not signify religious affiliation.

    Regardless of their perceptions about freedom of religion and religious practice, a LOT of folks think “birds of feather flock together,” and think this group is suspiciously close to the 9/11 attackers.

    They resent defenders of the 9/11 attackers like the imam involved in this mosque, who refused to condemn them without also saying it was America’s fault, who name their project after a triumphalist monument (the Cordoba project), and who refuse to disclose who will provide the funds for a nine million dollar center.

    For those unaware, the Cordoba thing in Spain was over the demolition of a Christian cathedral and the building of a mosque upon the site, celebrating the victory of Islam over Christianity. The use of this very name for this project is an assertion of muslim victory, and it is no surprise that the imam insists on placing it so near the 9/11 site. It’s “in-your-face” muslim triumphalism, though it seems few dems want to acknowledge it.

    It seems to me the prudent decision would be not to build it, as I fear it will be blown up by some radical opponent if it is built.

    If that were to happen, I suspect many Americans would cheer, freedom of religion notwithstanding.

  8. Submitted by Brian Simon on 08/19/2010 - 12:39 pm.

    John, on what sources are you basing your assertions? Wikipedia says that while the mosque was built on the foundation of a church, the Emir bought the land before building the mosque. Yes, this was after the conquest of the iberian peninsula. Also interesting is that the former mosque is now a roman catholic cathedral. Of further interest is that Cordoba was known for its tolerance – that Muslims, Christians and Jews lived amongst one another in Cordoba.

    I think there are people deliberately spreading misinformation about Cordoba specifically and muslims generally, and wouldn’t want anyone here to be accidentally misinformed.

  9. Submitted by Todd Hintz on 08/19/2010 - 12:43 pm.

    The argument that the building may be blown up some day by an idiot isn’t a rational position for not building it in the first place.

    And I would hardly consider two blocks from the Trade Center site to be “in your face.” But then as an atheist I think all this hyperventilating over religion is more than a bit goofy to begin with.

    Still, I would error on the side of religious freedom and build it rather than give into fear mongering and innuendo.

  10. Submitted by Brian Simon on 08/19/2010 - 12:43 pm.

    “I suspect that the current stuff is about being a muslim “sympathizer,” of which there is significant and growing evidence.”

    There is also significant evidence of the President being a constitutional scholar, and supporting the ideas ebodied in the Bill of Rights, starting with freedom of religion. Strangely enough, conservatives don’t seem to be very interested in what the law says on this issue, instead squeamishly switching to the PC argument about insensitivity. That’s the more convenient tack to take, I suppose.

  11. Submitted by John E Iacono on 08/19/2010 - 01:10 pm.

    (#8) Brian Simon:

    Wikipedia is not my favorite source. I prefer the Britannica, as more thorough and reliable.

    That being said, let it noted that there WAS a cathedral there in Cordoba, that it was torn down, that on that site a monument to the triumph of Islam was built there (a mosque), and that the current project significantly adopts a name that refers those in Isalam to these facts.

    Those who claim religious tolerance was an earmark of the Islamic domination of parts of Spain simply don’t know their history, Wikipedia assertions notwithstanding. Note that does NOT assert Spanish Christians were any more tolerant.

  12. Submitted by John E Iacono on 08/19/2010 - 01:23 pm.

    (#10)Brian Simon:

    The current brouhaha has not a whit to do with the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. All agree that they have the “right” to build where they wish.

    When it appears that the exercise of their “rights” might well be a calculated “in your face” celebration of “victory” at the 9/11 site, it is not surprising that those most closely affected would howl in protest.

    And when they do not have the resources to build, and refuse to say where those resources will come from it leads to further suspicion of the true backers and their intentions.

    And when they refuse to even discuss the clear problem with officials, this also leads to suspicion of their motives.

    In our town we recently had an issue when a local church bought some adjacent properties and then applied for a permit to do a significant expansion. The whole neighborhood was upset, and protested the issuance of permits. In the end, the church had to backtrack, discuss the problems the neighbors were concerned about with them, modify its plans to address those concerns, and make assurances about future use before the permits were granted.

    No such process has apparently occurred here. It should have. And it still should.

  13. Submitted by Eric Ferguson on 08/19/2010 - 01:38 pm.

    So a mosque in Cordoba was built where a church used to be, and if this was right after the Arab conquest of Iberia, we’re talking about maybe 800 AD? That’s the proof the Cordoba center is to celebrate a victory?

    Please conservatives, just admit your prejudices to yourselves, then you can start getting over them.

  14. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 08/19/2010 - 02:19 pm.

    John I: You are endorsing the very error that right-wing types want us all to believe: that ALL Muslims are to be blamed for 9/11, not just the few radicals who planned and carried out that attack.

    The Muslims building this community center (not a mosque, by the way, but a large building with a swimming pool and other amenities and activities as well as a prayer room) are modeling it to some extent upon a Jewish community center in the neighborhood. Their hope is that their non-Muslim neighbors will visit the center; that Muslims, Christians and Jews can get to know one another as neighbors.

    Building this center would be a moral and social good, one that fosters the acceptance of all other Americans by every group.

    Only hate-talk propaganda stands in its way.

  15. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 08/19/2010 - 03:06 pm.

    Genuine conservatives would not only defend the constitutional right involved here, they would also defend, even applaud, its practice “in your face.” A right not practiced because of popular opposition, even majority opposition, is no right at all. It makes no difference if it’s offensive to some for that right to be practiced. It’s the same right that allows Rush Limbaugh and other right-wing radio tinfoil hats to espouse the drivel they continue to put out on the airwaves.

    The First Amendment says very clearly that there will be no established religion, and that includes Christianity, unless it has somehow been mysteriously and unconstitutionally rendered “not a religion.” Sarah Palin take note, please. Similarly, the latest tempest-in-a-teapot over whether or not Obama is a Muslim is right wing smoke-and-mirrors. That 20 percent of the public appear to believe this is a sad commentary on both their ignorance and the malevolence of right-wing media, but more importantly, the Constitution has something to say about this, too, in that Article VI, Section 3 of the Constitution of the United States (not just on Wikipedia, but in my own print copy, as well) says: The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”

    To plagiarize from Wikipedia because cutting and pasting is easier than typing it out again by hand: “This has been interpreted to mean that no federal employee, whether elected or appointed, career or political, can be required to adhere to or accept any religion or belief. This clause immediately follows one requiring all federal and state officers to take an oath or affirmation of support to the Constitution, indicating that the requirement of such a statement does not imply any requirement by those so sworn to accept a particular religion or a particular doctrine. The option of giving an “affirmation” (rather than an “oath”) can be interpreted as not requiring any metaphysical belief.”

    For those people who call themselves “conservative,” and profess to be interested in the “original intent” of the authors of the Constitution, Article VI, Section 3 should prove instructive. It represents the words and thoughts of the original framers of the Constitution, even before the adoption of the Bill of Rights and the Establishment Clause of the 1st Amendment.

    It doesn’t matter what the community center will be named, or where its funding is coming from. It doesn’t matter if it’s tastefully done, or sensitive to the feelings of the families of 9/11 survivors – quite a few of whom happen to be Muslim, by the way. Building a Muslim community center is at least as defensible a use of the land as a strip club, one of which is also near “Ground Zero,” and since local authorities have approved the use, it also doesn’t matter whether the rest of us like it or not.

  16. Submitted by Steve Sundberg on 08/19/2010 - 03:25 pm.

    @John Iacono: It’s been determined that Wikipedia is as accurate as the Encyclopedia Britannica:

    “In the end, [Nature journal] found just eight serious errors, such as general misunderstandings of vital concepts, in the articles. Of those, four came from each site. They did, however, discover a series of factual errors, omissions or misleading statements. All told, Wikipedia had 162 such problems, while Britannica had 123.”

    At least there are usually numerous, linked citations attached to Wiki’s articles. I can’t link to anything in my bound copies of Britannica (lol) … and don’t want to pay for full access to the Britannica site so can’t determine if they also provide linked citations.

  17. Submitted by Ann Spencer on 08/19/2010 - 03:31 pm.

    Let’s not get sidetracked, shall we, on another fruitless debate about the so-called “ground zero mosque”? Happily, some reasonable Republicans have now concluded that this issue is too radioactive and dangerous and are advising candidates to back away from it.

    John I’s characterization of Obama as a “Muslim sympathizer” reminds me of the Red Scare years (1950’s-60’s) when I was a kid/teenager: “Well, he may not be a Muslim, but he’s soft on Islam.” It was fear-mongering and guilt by association then and it’s the same now—-except that equating belief in one of the world’s major religions with supporting America’s then-arch enemy is pretty offensive if you think about it.

    What’s most upsetting about this poll is that these misperceptions are virtually 100% immune to factual correction. I’ve seen a few “blame the victim” comments from pundits, accusing Obama of bringing this on himself by not joining a church in D.C. (George W. Bush didn’t either, by the way). They have to be kidding. A certain segment of the population badly wants to believe that Obama is a Muslim and nothing he says or does is going to change their opinion. Weekly footage of the Obama family trotting off to church would be met with “What a phony! This is a farce to make us believe he’s a Christian when we know he’s really a Muslim! What else is he hiding?”

    Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I think all this ostentatious flaunting of religion by public officials is in bad taste and an open invitation to hypocrisy. I don’t want to know about politicians’ sex lives and I’m not interested in their spiritual lives, either. Both are deeply personal, highly individual and involve private beliefs and relationships of the profoundest and most intimate nature. As voters, we hire elected officials to solve problems in the public sphere—why do we have the right to know every detail of their personal lives, and why do we care?

  18. Submitted by John E Iacono on 08/19/2010 - 03:43 pm.

    (#13)Eric Ferguson:

    Attempting to blur the linkages is not helpful. According to my sources, the muslims destroyed the Christian cathedral. Then muslims bought the land and built a mosque on it, just as they did after destroying the Christian church in Jerusalem to build the mosque that is now a source of contention there.

    To suggest a distance of hundreds of years between these events, and to suggest that it was not to muslims a symbol of their military triumph is inaccurate.

    And to suggest that the imam was unaware of this history when selecting a name for his project is silly.

  19. Submitted by John E Iacono on 08/19/2010 - 04:01 pm.

    (#14)Bernice Vetsch says:

    “John I: You are endorsing the very error that right-wing types want us all to believe: that ALL Muslims are to be blamed for 9/11, not just the few radicals who planned and carried out that attack.”

    >Read what I wrote again, please. It is the connections between THIS imam and THIS project name and THIS hidden funding and THIS insistence on THIS site and no other that suggest links to those very radical islamists, who are CERTAINLY to be blamed for 9/11.

    “The Muslims building this community center (not a mosque, by the way, but a large building with a swimming pool and other amenities and activities as well as a prayer room)…”

    >I guess by this argument one might claim that the many churches in our town with classrooms, meeting rooms, offices, auditoriums, and other “amenities” in addition to their “prayer centers” are not churches. Right?

    “Building this center would be a moral and social good, one that fosters the acceptance of all other Americans by every group.”

    >Or, forces all non-muslims to confront the nearby triumph of Islam. If peace, understanding, and mutual acceptance (hardly the posture of muslim countries around the world) is the goal, this seems a poor way to go about it.

    “Only hate-talk propaganda stands in its way.”

    >Yes, there’s plenty of hate talk here, much of it directed at those offended by the brazen affrontery of THESE (not all) muslims.

  20. Submitted by John E Iacono on 08/19/2010 - 04:17 pm.

    (#15)Ray Schoch says:
    Paragraph 1: Agreed. Genuine conservatives would also point out the objectors’ right to protest.

    Paragraph 2: Agreed. Of course, there is no argument about this distraction put forth by the dems.

    Paragraph 3: Agreed. And the relevant point is?

    Paragraph 4: Agreed, apart from the implication that conservatives would disagree.

    Paragraph 5:
    “It doesn’t matter what the community center will be named, or where its funding is coming from.”

    > I disagree. Insofar as these items suggest that the real purpose may not be the stated one, they are relevant to me.

    >For the rest, agreed except for the callous ruling out of the feelings of the 9/11 survivors.

    I suggest that having the “right” to park my vehicle in my driveway does not give me the right to park my 18 wheeler there, if it offends my neighbors.

  21. Submitted by John E Iacono on 08/19/2010 - 04:34 pm.

    (#17)Ann Spencer:

    “John I’s characterization of Obama as a “Muslim sympathizer” reminds me of the Red Scare years…”

    >Many folks were not too pleased when Mr. Obama spoke to members of Islam shortly after he was elected in apologetic tones. (They didn’t like it much that he took the same posture with Europeans, either, but that’s another story.)

    >They are not too happy that he now refuses to let his administration use the words “war on terror” or to refer to islamicists as the instigators of it.

    >They are not too happy that he wants to chum up to that crazy man in Iran and his ayatollah buddies.

    >They think it was a mistake to criticize our friends in Israel while not objecting to what the Turks contributed to the recent confrontation as sea.

    >It seems to me that Obama well deserves the suggestion that he is a muslim sympathizer in his political world face. But for most of his critics, this in no way makes them “afraid” of him — it makes them MAD at him. And it clearly does not make him a Muslim — just a panderer.

    I agree with you that “pious” flaunting of religious belief can be offputting, particularly when done by clearly cynical politicians for effect.

  22. Submitted by Brian Simon on 08/19/2010 - 05:09 pm.

    “It seems to me that Obama well deserves the suggestion that he is a muslim sympathizer in his political world face.”

    What is most offensive about such a statement is the implication that muslims are the enemy. Disparaging a whole religion thusly is anti-american, unpatriotic and an affront to everything decent that god-fearing people believe in.

  23. Submitted by Ann Spencer on 08/19/2010 - 05:13 pm.

    John I:

    One person’s pandering is another’s attempt to reach out to the moderate Muslim world, where our reputation was in tatters when Obama took office. A sound argument can be made that improving relations with the moderate Muslim world is in our national interest.

    Diplomacy is not a zero sum game, in which any outreach to Muslims necessarily comes at the expense of existing allies.

    I don’t care whether we call attempts to prevent terrorism a “war on terror” or not—I only care that it be done with vigor. Getting hung up on the words doesn’t change the reality. The Obama administration has not let up on this, getting considerable heat from the left for continuing some of GWB’s policies.

  24. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 08/19/2010 - 05:52 pm.

    I agree that some people could find the construction of a mosque near Ground Zero as tasteless, or as Mr.John E lacano puts it “except for the callous ruling out of the feelings of the 9/11 survivors”

    I also believe that our Constitution enshrines individuals with rights, such as freedom of speech, religion and assembly, which cannot be taken away on a mere whim.

    In America, it takes a lot more than the fact that someone is offended to restrict people’s freedoms, and nothing about this mosque rises to that level. It is harmless, potentially capable of sending a positive message, and in no way infringes on the liberties of anyone else, other than the perceived right to which some feel entitled to never be offended by the actions of others. Unfortunately for them, this right does not actually exist

  25. Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 08/19/2010 - 07:40 pm.

    People who say Obama is a Muslim are people who are impervious to facts and rational thinking. It should be of no surprise that in a nation of 300 million that a sizeable number of individuals are governed by base impulses like fear and greed and believe what they believe based on what they “feel”.

    What is disgraceful, as Al Franken rightly put it, is that a few insane fanatics like this Pamela Geller are able to get a national platform for their hatred (fear and greed).

    This was and is a local planning issue in NYC which the Cordoba House sponsors complied with. As far as the public is concerned, it is irrelevant whether they planned to use the building as a new Burlington Coat Factory, a YMCA, JCC or use as a YMMA (“Young Men’s Muslim Association”) center. wikipedia actually has a fairly up-to-date and accrate background on this brouhaha.

  26. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 08/19/2010 - 08:43 pm.

    See the current NYT
    on current administration/Israel cooperation.

  27. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 08/19/2010 - 09:09 pm.

    There’s an interesting, balanced article on the history of Cordoba and the current controversy in TABLET magazine (NOT an Islamic source ;-).

  28. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 08/19/2010 - 10:28 pm.

    @ John Iacono:

    “I suggest that having the “right” to park my vehicle in my driveway does not give me the right to park my 18 wheeler there, if it offends my neighbors.”

    Actually, John, it does.

    There is no “right to park” of which I’m aware, but for the sake of discussion, let’s say that local ordinance permits parking your tractor-trailer in your driveway (and local ordinance often does NOT permit it). If such parking is permitted by local law, then offending your neighbors in that way is perfectly permissible, legal, and constitutional. Whether they like it or not is irrelevant, except for the one-fingered salutes you might receive from time to time.

    I lived for a while in a community that adopted an ordinance prohibiting the parking of pickup trucks on the street, based on the theory, I suppose, that pickup trucks represented working class folks whose income and hair style were unacceptable to the more affluent members of the community. It was a stupid ordinance, and a sizable group of people of varying income levels and occupations, all of whom drove pickup trucks daily, turned up at a city council meeting to denounce it. Council members, being political animals, saw fit to nullify the ordinance.

    The remedy, for those neighbors who might be offended by your 18-wheeler, is to get the local ordinance changed that allows you to park it in your driveway. Until that happens, you can offend the neighbors with your vehicle all you want.

  29. Submitted by Sue Halligan on 08/20/2010 - 06:56 am.

    Thank you for the link, Mr. Brandon (#29). A very enlightening account of the ages-old debate on what Cordoba was really like and the uses to which those views have been put over the years.

  30. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 08/20/2010 - 06:57 am.

    I knew the jig was up for America when Obama’s “work hard, stay in school” address to the nation’s children became a hot button political issue.

  31. Submitted by John E Iacono on 08/20/2010 - 11:42 am.


    Thanks for the Cordoba referral in #29. More in depth analysis that I had found to date.

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