President Obama’s Elusive Faith

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Two recent polls, one by Time magazine and another by Pew Forum, find a notable number of Americans—one in four (in Time), one in five (in Pew)—believe that President Obama is a Muslim. This is a fascinating development, quite unprecedented in the history of the presidency. Yet, likewise unprecedented, and perhaps of greater interest, is the percentage unsure about Obama’s faith at all.

Reports Pew: “More than a year and a half into his presidency, a plurality of the public says they do not know what religion Obama follows…. Only about one-third of adults (34%) say Obama is a Christian. Fully 43% say they do not know what Obama’s religion is.”

This is not confined to Republicans. Pew notes: “fewer Democrats today say he is a Christian.”

For the record, Obama has expressed what he believes. In a January 2008 interview with Christianity Today, he stated flatly: “I am a Christian, and I am a devout Christian…. I have never practiced Islam.”

That said, President Obama has an obvious perception problem—and for understandable reasons. Consider:

Obama has arguably the oddest faith profile of any president in history, from his upbringing to today. He was raised by an agnostic, if not atheist, mother and grandparents, and was the son of a Muslim-turned-atheist African father and a Muslim stepfather.

Amazingly, the only Christian church to which Obama consistently belonged was that of the ranting, raving, racist, gyrating, hip-thrusting, blaspheming Reverend Jeremiah Wright.

And what church does Obama—and his wife and daughters—currently attend? None. The current president of the United States has no church or even denomination.

Thus, Americans are confused. Their assessment is not crass misperception. They’re not being arrogantly judgmental. They’re understandably unsure. If President Obama doesn’t like the misperception, he should correct it.

Dr. Paul Kengor

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Dr. Paul Kengor is professor of political science at Grove City College and executive director of The Center for Vision & Values. His books include “The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism” and “Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century.”

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