August 19th, 2010
02:26 PM ET
4 years ago

White House strikes back at 'Muslim' tag

 The White House on Thursday responded to new polls which indicate Americans do not know what religion President Obama practices.
The White House on Thursday responded to new polls which indicate Americans do not know what religion President Obama practices.

Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts (CNN) - The White House is responding to new polls Thursday that show an increasing number of Americans believe that President Obama is a Muslim.

"President Obama is a committed Christian, and his faith is an important part of his daily life," Deputy White House Communications Director Jen Psaki told CNN. "He prays every day, he seeks a small circle of Christian pastors to give him spiritual advice and counseling, he even receives a daily devotional that he uses each morning. The President's Christian faith is a part of who he is, but not a part of what the public or the media is focused on everyday."

Psaki added that "the President's strong Christian faith is what guides him through the challenges – a recovering economy, bringing troops home from Iraq, putting healthcare and financial reform implementation in place - but he doesn't wear it on his sleeve."

According to a poll conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life released Thursday, nearly one in five Americans believe Obama is a Muslim, up from around one in 10 Americans who said he was Muslim last year.

While most of those who think Obama is Muslim are Republicans, the number of independents who believe he is Muslim has expanded significantly, from 10 percent last year to 18 percent now.

The number of Americans who express uncertainly about the president's religion, meanwhile, is much larger and has also grown, including among Obama's political base. For instance, fewer than half of Democrats and African-Americans now say that Obama is Christian according to the Pew poll.


Filed under: Popular Posts • President Obama • Religion
soundoff (286 Responses)
  1. Really?

    Does it really matter what religion that man is? And if he, or any other president, was Muslim would that make him or her any less effective? So if we won't tolerate a Muslim in high office, does that mean we won't tolerate Catholics, Jews, Hindus, Mormans, Buddhists, or atheists?

    There's a reason there's a separation of church and state in this country.

    August 19, 2010 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  2. NC

    What's difference does it make. Some of the so called Christians are going to Hell anyway. We don't have a religious requirement for elected office. What are we becoming Iran?

    August 19, 2010 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  3. Dar

    It's nice to have someone lie for you so Odumbo can say he didn't say that.
    Why can't Odumbo wear his faith on his sleave? Ashamed? Athiest, Muslim?Christian? What ever it may be, WEAR IT PROUDLY as anyone would.
    Makes you wonder who he is really taking to, the devil has a religon too.

    August 19, 2010 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  4. rkm63

    Sorry, Rev Wright is not a christian and neither is Jim Wallis. Black Liberation Theology and Marxism is their forte.

    August 19, 2010 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  5. Honest American

    It's comforting that only 20% of our citizens think the President is a Muslim. I would swear it was 50% or more that are this dumb. America is quickly becoming the nation that could shoot itself in the foot, over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. Way to go America. Soon we will have our own Comedy show, "The Great Country That Could, But Never Can Again."

    August 19, 2010 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  6. Brad

    From a Christain: Who cares? This is exactly why we should have a complete separation between church and state.

    August 19, 2010 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  7. Michael1959

    In Obama's own words, "you can put lipstick on a pig but it's still a pig".

    August 19, 2010 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  8. therealmarie

    Congradulations CNN you and other programming media have succeeded in your propaganda in all things negative about the President of the United states. Feed them garbage and they will deliver garbage for your corporations. Ignorance is strenght. Up is down. Useful idiots.

    August 19, 2010 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  9. Seraphim0

    Unfortunately, this will not silence the fanatics who believe what they want to believe despite facts. Certain radio and TV personalities want to cast the president in an unfavorable light and use any sort of word-play or spin on sound clips, etc, to discredit the President.

    This isn't confined to the POTUS, either. One of the largest problems in the way of our great nation actually making -progress- is the fact that both far left and right are spending so much time throwing mud and pointing fingers, playing the 'blame game' to get votes that no one actually accomplishes -anything.- As a center-leaning/moderate democrat, I believe both parties are just as guilty of this. And it's shameful for all of us.

    August 19, 2010 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  10. mike

    No, they don't! These are GOP voters who say whatever they think will get them what they want, for example: many of these folks will tell you they don't beieve in evolution (modern biology) however, if they become ill, just ask them if they want to decline modern medical care, suddenly you will find 'they Believe!". They say this about Obama because they think it slanders him, but the truth is it demonstrates that they don't operate from any belief system at all; like children, they say whatever they think will get them candy. If you can't see this, your just not being serious!
    I',m sorry, it's true!

    August 19, 2010 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  11. John

    WHY. DOES. IT. MATTER?

    What, people don't think he's a Christian *and that's a bad sign for him*? If that's a bad sign for a politician these days, that people think he or she is one religion or another, that's a much worse sign for this country. At least it's nothing new, our first president was subjected to this sort of lunacy. But my god, I thought we had come further in 200+ years!

    Thomas Jefferson, on George Washington's religion:
    When the clergy addressed General Washington on his departure from the government, it was observed in their consultation that he had never on any occasion said a word to the public which showed a belief in the Christian religion and they thought they should so pen their address as to force him at length to declare publicly whether he was a Christian or not. They did so. However [Dr. Rush] observed the old fox was too cunning for them. He answered every article of their address particularly except that, which he passed over without notice. Rush observes he never did say a word on the subject in any of his public papers except in his valedictory letter to the Governors of the states when he resigned his commission in the army, wherein he speaks of the benign influence of the Christian religion. I know that Gouverneur Morris, who pretended to be in his secrets & believed himself to be so, has often told me that General Washington believed no more of that system than he himself did.

    Another quote by Jefferson:
    Religion is a subject on which I have ever been most scrupulously reserved. I have considered it as a matter between every man and his Maker in which no other, and far less the public, had a right to intermeddle.

    and another:
    It is in our lives, and not from our words, that our religion must be read. By the same test the world must judge me. But this does not satisfy the priesthood. They must have a positive, a declared assent to all their interested absurdities. My opinion is that there would never have been an infidel, if there had never been a priest.

    And another, in reference to the Virginia Act For Religious Freedom:
    Where the preamble declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed by inserting "Jesus Christ," so that it would read "A departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;" the insertion was rejected by the great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mohammedan, the Hindoo and Infidel of every denomination.

    We are Americans. We are (or flippin well should be) better than this.

    August 19, 2010 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  12. Anon

    Can someone tell my why is his religion is either important or relevant?

    He is in charge of the executive branch of the United States government, he is not a spiritual leader. If you believe him being a Muslim is wrong/bad/scary/whatever then I take it that you are bigoted and believe all Muslims are terrorists/oppressors of women/(insert stereotype here _____). If Christian and that is your preference, then I assume you are glad that we have a President who doesn't believe in violence or revenge. One who believes in turning the other cheek, caring for the poor, being decent, and tolerant of all others as God's creations. But wait, how do those character traits of 'proper Christians' translate into a the everyday acts of our political leaders who self identify as God-fearing Christians and followers of the teachings of Christ? Favoring the rich, waging war, killing Iraqi civilians, and justifying the loss of innocent lives as unfortunate but necessary 'collateral damage' given our need for revenge? WWJD?

    But I digress, is it possible that he is a bit apathetic towards religion? That given his extraordinary educational background as a Harvard trained JD, that his preference for facts/logic/reason overrides his ability for full faith devotion to any one belief structure? If this is the case, why can't we all be grateful that the President of the most advanced nation on Earth doesn't hold any religious biases, doesn't place trust in the supernatural to solve problems, doesn't hate others just because they believe in different things, doesn't wage spiritual wars, etc? Why do so many "Constitution protecting" Republicans believe that his religion is an issue and he must be Christian? Have you forgotten about the separation of Church and State?

    CNN and Pollsters – why are you helping to perpetuate this 'issue' as one that is relevant? Please explain...

    August 19, 2010 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  13. ETM

    Does the President really need to respond to such ignorance? So what if 18% believe he is a Muslim? Half of the 18% probably think the world is flat.

    August 19, 2010 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  14. Duck Fallas

    Well, which is it young fellah, are you a Muslim or a Christian? Mean to say, if'n you're a Muslim, you can't rightly go to church with Reverend Wright, and if'n you're a Christain, then 20% of the population is retarded.

    August 19, 2010 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  15. Annie, Atlanta

    And why do nearly one in five Americans believe our President is a Muslim. One Answer: The Media, which is wholly owned and operated (minus just a few cable shows) by the Republicans and their Noise Machine.

    Even from behind the scenes they're dumbing us down, tearing us apart, and basically destroying us. And the media in general is complicit. Stand up and take a bow, CNN, for your part.

    August 19, 2010 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  16. Independent

    This is White House generated controversy that is not a controversy and never was. Obama's people are trying anything to shift the national discussion away from those issues that voters care about

    1 Jobs
    2 The failing economy
    3 Jobs
    4 Higher taxes on small business owners – the job creators
    5 deficit spending
    6 pork spending
    7 jobs
    8 jobs
    9 jobs
    10 jobs

    August 19, 2010 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  17. Martha

    The poll must consist of Republicans. How much have they shown the people of America what they know. All they have shown us is their ignorance.

    August 19, 2010 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  18. md

    As a Canadian, all I remember from the 2008 campaign was how all the right wing Americans were bashing Obama because he went to Rev. Rights Christian Church in Chicago for 20 years and that Obama must be a radical Christian if he had ties to Rev Wright....and how that was bad for America...guess it didn't stick...

    Now 1 in 5 Americans think he's Muslim?...what the heck...are you people are insane down there? ...give the guy a freakin' rest for a day will ya...why do Americans elect people they immediately want to crucify?

    No offense but Obama is the least of your worries...no one could lead America anymore after what it has become...no one can fix the world for you, you have to get off your own asses and get to work "y'all"

    respectfully,
    a neighbor to the North :)

    August 19, 2010 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  19. Nelson, Colorado Springs Co

    Here the United States Of America goes again. I'm feel sorry for those who think Preisdent Obama is Muslim. The largest number are Republicans independents and some Democrats who believe he is Muslim. As a wise man said Stupit it what Stupit say and believe. Now President Obama have a lot to do, least of all defend himself as a Christian. The challenges – a recovering economy, bringing troops home from Iraq, putting healthcare and financial reform implementation in place. jobs, national debt and Afghanistan. Keep up the good work President Obama.

    August 19, 2010 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  20. ja

    i wonder what faith are those ameicans, more than likely racist bigots, that hide behind the cross, futhermore is there something wrong with being muslim, at 52 two years old, i've send christians pray to their god to annihilate the muslims and vice versa, not tolerance or appreciation of differences, there is something wrong all around

    August 19, 2010 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  21. felicia

    That's 97% white folks who think like that, we love our President.

    August 19, 2010 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  22. White House Distraction

    The White House knows this is not a controversy. Heck 20% of Americans polled would tell you that Pope is a Muslim

    The white house just does not want to talk about jobs and the economy

    August 19, 2010 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  23. Big George in Big D

    Of course they do – he is always in favor of Muslims over Christianity!

    August 19, 2010 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  24. hjs3

    When they take these polls do they also measure the
    participant's IQ's?

    Interesting metric I would think....

    August 19, 2010 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  25. Article 6

    My big question: why does it matter? Article 6 of the constitution states "no religious test shall be required" for holding public office. It seems some portion of the public wants to confirm the President is "Christian enough" for them.

    Thank you CNN for feeding into that, and holding back the acceptance of Muslim Americans into the mainstream. If ever an actual Muslim ran for president, watch out.

    August 19, 2010 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
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