Obama’s Religion

Stories are being written these days about the new poll which indicates that 20% of Americans think President Barack Obama is a Muslim.  Two things interest me about this issue.

One, people are making a big deal about the increasing number of people who believe this, but if memory serves me, 18% of the public thought he was a Muslim when he was elected, so the increasing number isn’t the story–the consistency of this erroneous belief is.

Two, back during the Election 2008 campaign season, Obama was more comfortable talking about his belief in Christ than John McCain was.

So, why the persistence of this idea that the President is really a Muslim?  Maybe it is because he has downplayed Christianity (by not making any kind of public showing of support for the National Day of Prayer, for example) while striving to please Muslims (by saying at the beginning of Ramadan that Muslims are free to build mosques wherever they want).  Obama’s mosque statement was seen as a reference to the idea of building one (technically a Muslim community center) near Ground Zero (though the President backpedaled from that idea the next day).

Interestingly, one could find examples to make the direct opposite argument about the President’s beliefs.  They could point to the fact that he has comfortably rubbed elbows with influential Christians like Rick Warren and Billy Graham.  And he did continue American military operations against two Muslim countries (three if you count Pakistan).

So why the confusion?  Is it his name, his parentage, or his politics?  Probably, it is some combination of all of them.

Back in the 1980s, Obama says, he realized he needed Jesus, so he made a public statement of faith.  Actions, though, can speak louder than words.  One could argue that 20% of the American population sees the action of a Muslim.  On the other hand, 80% of the public doesn’t.