, WASHINGTON, Aug 19 – Nearly two years after Barack Obama\’s election as US president, a growing number of Americans misidentify his faith as Muslim, according to a new poll released on Thursday.
Despite Obama\’s attendance in church and his repeated public statements about his Christian faith, nearly one in five respondents on the survey said they believed he is a practitioner of Islam, while only 34 percent of Americans correctly identified him as a Christian, down sharply from a year earlier.
The poll was conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.
Meanwhile, the percentage of people who say they are unsure what religion Obama practices has risen to 43 percent, from 34 percent a year ago.
The poll found one third of conservative Republicans believe Obama is a Muslim, a figure that has nearly doubled. But the president\’s faith was incorrectly identified by rising numbers of Democrats and independents too.
Some 18 percent of independent voters thought Obama was Muslim, up eight percentage points, and fewer than half the president\’s Democratic supporter believe him to be a Christian.
The Pew survey polled 3,003 respondents between July 21 and August 5, and had a plus-or-minus 2.5 percent sampling error.
The poll was taken before Obama waded into a bitter dispute last week over plans for a mosque and interfaith centers just blocks from the New York site of the September 11, 2001 attacks.
Obama said Friday that US principles protecting freedom of religion should apply equally to all faiths, and that Muslims should be able to worship freely in the United States.
But a day later he added that his comments were not intended to pass judgement on the wisdom of building a mosque near Ground Zero.
Of those who said they believe Obama is Muslim, 60 percent said they had learned about his religion from the media.
But White House officials told the Washington Post that mistaken impressions about Obama\’s faith were the result of "misinformation campaigns" being waged by his opponents.
"While the president has been diligent and personally committed to his own Christian faith, there\’s certainly folks who are intent on spreading falsehoods about the president and his values and beliefs," faith adviser Joshua DuBois said.