Is Obama a Muslim? Most Republicans say yes

February 27, 2015 01:46 pm | Updated November 17, 2021 02:10 am IST

President Obama took his oath of office with his hand on the Bible, like most American presidents. File photo: AP

President Obama took his oath of office with his hand on the Bible, like most American presidents. File photo: AP

Alex Theodoridis, a Ph.D holder in political science from the University of California, Berkeley, who is currently a professor at UC Merced, administered a poll last year, as part of the Cooperative Congressional Election Study, and included a simple question. He asked a representative sample of American respondents, “Which of these do you think most likely describes what Obama believes deep down? Muslim, Christian, atheist, spiritual, or I don’t know.”

The results were surprising.

Barack Hussein Obama was seen as ‘Muslim’ by 54 per cent of Republican respondents, while 29 per cent said that they did not know. Mr. Obama took his oath of office with his hand on the Bible, like most American presidents (with notable exceptions being Theodore Roosevelt and John Quincy Adams). However, his middle name seems to have confused many, including 10 per cent of Democrats and 26 per cent of independent voters, who all believe that he is Muslim.

Here are the results in three charts

Prof. Theodoridis’ findings were posted on the Washington Post’s blog, Monkey Cage, on February 25. He wrote, “by asking ‘what Obama believes deep down?’ I was intentionally granting respondents license to stray from the president’s self-reported Christian faith. This reveals a prevalent willingness to distrust this president or categorize him as “the other” in terms of religion.” The post was inspired by Republican presidential hopeful and current Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, saying that he didn’t know what religion Mr. Obama followed.

What is disconcerting about the findings is that a massive 83 per cent of Republicans either think Mr. Obama is Muslim or say “I don’t know”. The survey has set off a political debate in the United States. A day after the study became public, Jonathan Capehart wrote in the Washington Post, “Republicans have never believed Obama is a Christian. A 2010 poll from the Pew Research Center showed 31 percent of them believed Obama was Muslim, up 14 points from March 2009. And 39 percent of them said they didn’t know his religion, up 11 points over the previous poll. That’s a combined 70 percent of Republicans. This explains why [Scott] Walker can say “I don’t know” and suffer nothing politically.”

The study indicates that Mr. Obama’s patriotism is not written in stone for many Americans. His foreign policy moves and domestic contributions notwithstanding, Mr. Obama’s patriotism is vulnerable to popular perceptions of his presidency that are unfortunately coloured not only by his race, but also by his middle name.

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