WASHINGTON (RNS) After nearly four years in the Oval Office, President Obama is incorrectly thought to be Muslim by one in six American voters, and only one quarter of voters can correctly identify him as a Protestant, according to a new poll.
“Wow. He said it 100 times that he’s not a Muslim,” said Zainab Al-Suwaij, executive director of the American Islamic Congress, expressing surprise over the persistent number of American voters (16 percent) who make the mistake.
Is there something insidious behind the belief, a concerted attack to link the president with a religion that’s considered alien — or worse — by some Americans?
“I think it’s more a lack of information than an attack on him,” said Al-Suwaij.
While Americans across the board get the president’s religion wrong, the religious group that most often thinks Obama is Muslim is white evangelical Protestants (24 percent). American unaffiliated with a religious group make the error least often: just 7 percent identify Obama as Muslim.
Daniel Cox, PRRI’s research director, said the small but not insignificant sliver of Americans who still believe Obama is Muslim is “fascinating.”
“Quite frankly, I’m not really sure what to make of it other than this person, although he speaks quite comfortably about his faith, doesn’t wear his religion on his sleeve,” Cox said. “It’s an important part of who he is, but it’s not an important part of his public persona.”
The poll also found that white evangelical Protestants, who were suspicious of Romney in the early GOP primaries, are warming up to Romney now that he’s the presumptive nominee.