Is President Obama a Muslim? According to a recent article in The Christian Science Monitor, at least 18 percent of Americans believe that he is Muslim. According to the article by Peter Grier, the Pew Research Center poll asked Americans what religion President Obama practiced.
A whopping 18 percent of respondents, about 1-in-5 Americans, picked Muslim in answer to the question (an increase of 11 percent from March 2009). The Pew poll went a step further to ask how people knew what religion President Obama practiced, and the responses were quite revealing. One percent said they learned it from his book, 10 percent said they learned President Obama was Muslim from his words and actions, but a huge percentage, 60 percent, of people said they learned President Obama was Muslim from the media.
The poll was taken prior to the President’s recent statements about construction of a mosque close to Ground Zero. If taken now, the percentage of Americans responding that President Obama was Muslim may increase — with a large percentage attributing it to his words and actions. However, President Obama has been clear, and reiterated even, that his comments regarding the construction of the mosque were neither in support of nor against the Muslim faith. President Obama was speaking of the freedom of all Americans to practice their religion and build structures of faith on privately owned property.
It could be that people interpreted President Obama’s statements of “support” for the Muslim mosque near Ground Zero as evidence of him being a Muslim because he rarely speaks of his faith. President Obama is a Christian, according to statements made by White House Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton in response to the results of the Pew poll. However, previous presidents have worn their Christianity openly and talked frequently about their religious beliefs.
It may be that President Obama has a deep belief in the “wall of eternal separation between Church & State,” as expressed by President Jefferson in his letter to the Danbury Baptists. President Jefferson stated in his letter, “I have refrained from prescribing even those occasional performances of devotion,” and maybe President Obama is taking this statement to heart. Unfortunately, there will be some who assume that, because our current president does not openly profess his faith while performing the duties of his office, he is not a Christian.
However, if we look at a broader view of how President Obama handles faith, we may see that he strives to treat all religions and beliefs with respect and equality in the eyes of the government — showing no favoritism, but accepting advice and guidance from several religious leaders. This may be President Obama’s attempt at keeping church and state separate, maintaining the values, morals and beliefs of our Founding Fathers.
Article VI of the Constitution states that the president, among others holding office, “shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification.” President Obama is upholding the Constitution by ensuring all Americans are afforded the same rights. However, by doing so, he may hurt his chances of re-election because the majority of Americans, in spite of our constant speeches about freedom and rights, want a president who professes his faith and “bends” the rights of those who hurt America — until the “bend” affects us personally.
Jefferson’s Letter to the Danbury Baptists (Library of Congress)
Grier, Peter. “Why do 1 in 5 Americans think President Obama is a Muslim?” (The Christian Science Monitor, 8/19/10)
Montopoli, Brian. “White House: Obama Prays Every Day” (CBSnews.com)
Chaddock, Gail Russell. “The Role of Religion Under Obama” (The Christian Science Monitor, 1/22/09)