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1 in 5 Americans believe Obama is a Muslim

Almost 20% of Americans wrongly believe that their president is Muslim.

A GROWING NUMBER of Americans believe that Barack Obama is a Muslim, while the number of those who believe he is a Christian has declined.

A nationwide survey by the Pew Research Centre shows that nearly 18% of Americans believe Obama is Muslim (up from 11% in March 2009), 34% believe he is Christian (down from 48% in 2009) and 43% say they don’t know what religion he is.

The survey was carried out and completed before August, before Obama’s comments regarding the construction of a mosque near the Ground Zero.

Split between critics and supporters

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the view that Obama is Muslim is more prevalent amongst his opponents than his supporters.

When respondents were asked how they had learned about Obama’s religion, in a opened-ended question, 60% said from the media – mostly from television.

Out of those who believe that Obama is Muslim, 11%  say they learned of his religion through his behaviour and what he has said.

Political undertones

It seems that beliefs about Obama’s religion are closely related to perceptions of him politically: those who say he is Muslim strongly criticise his job performance, whereas those who say he is Christian approve of his performance. And, accordingly, those who are not sure about his religion are divided regarding his job performance.

However the American public generally believes he handles his religious beliefs appropriately, seeing him as less influenced by religion than his predecessor George W Bush.

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