Today, Pew put out a poll showing that 18 percent of the American public believes President Obama is a Muslim. That number includes 31 percent of Republicans. Only 34 percent of the adult public says Obama is a Christian, down from 48 percent in 2009. When asked how they learned about Obama’s religion, 60 percent of the respondents cited the media, with tv mentioned the most frequently.
While journalists and pundits on cable news today did acknowledge the “media” have had a role to play, they also seemed to place some of the blame on Obama and his staff, saying that perhaps the President should go to church more frequently and more openly to show the public that he truly is Christian. Watch it:
First of all, Obama should not have to be bible-thumping on C-SPAN every Sunday in order to prove how Christian he is. Second of all, the poll leaves out a very important source of this misinformation: the irresponsible right wing. As Salon’s Alex Pareene notes:
But the fact that thinking-he’s-a-Muslim tracks so closely with disapproval of his presidency is perhaps a sign that the disappearance of the “responsible” wing of the GOP is helping to make outright bigotry totally acceptable.
Going to church isn’t likely to change the minds of the far right. After all, it was his attendance at church that got him in trouble to begin with.
There have been many news reports over the past few years debunking the rumor that Obama is a Muslim. Nevertheless, the right-wing media continues to push the myth. These fringe views aren’t rejected by influential conservatives, but often embraced, and therefore picked up in mainstream discourse and media. Saying that he needs to publicly change his habits of worship in order to appease people is like saying he needs to roll around in big piles of money to show he isn’t a socialist.
And in the end, there will always be people who can’t be convinced of mainstream positions. Twenty-one percent of the public believes in witches, 41 percent believe in ESP, and 34 percent are convinced that “houses can be haunted.”