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Why Americans Believe Obama is a Muslim

Poll Shows Media Factor Heavily in Misconception

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Why Americans Believe Obama is a Muslim

President Obama Hosts Ramadan Dinner

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Updated September 09, 2010

Why do so many people mistakenly believe President Barack Obama is a Muslim?

The media.

Specifically television.

Nearly one in four Americans - 18 percent in all - believe President Barack Obama is a Muslim, according to an August 2010 poll conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

Obama is a Christian.

See more: 5 Wacky Myths About Obama

When asked how they learned about Obama's religion, 60 percent of those who wrongly believe Obama is a Muslim cited the media.

It's an unsurprising discovery given the cable news fascination with the topic; one network ran a special program asking the question, "Islam or Isn't He?"

The Christian evangelist Franklin Graham's widely televised comment's about Obama have also played into that misconception.

"The president's problem is that he was born a Muslim. His father was a Muslim. The seed of Islam is passed through the father," Graham told CNN. "His father gave him an Islamic name."

Such comments are made almost daily.

Of those those who believe Obama is a Muslim:

  • 16 percent cited television as the source.

  • 6 percent cited newspapers.

  • 3 percent said magazines.

  • 1 percent said radio.

  • 1 percent said a book.

  • 1 percent said Obama's book.

More than one in 10 respondents, 11 percent, said they Obama's own words and actions led them to believe he is a Muslim.

Another seven percent said it was something they read on the Internet, such as the myth that Obama canceled the National Day of Prayer or that he supports the mosque near ground zero.

Of course, politics certainly plays a part in one's willingness to believe Obama is a Muslim.

The belief that Obama is a Muslim is highest among his political opponents. In all, 31 percent of Republicans and 30 percent of those who disapprove of his job performance said the president is Muslim.

The rate is much lower among his supporters. Only 10 percent of Democrats and those who approve of his job performance said he's a Muslim.

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