While the political right in America doesn’t often make clear pronouncements about its overall agenda, on the basis of “watch what we do, not what we say,” it’s obvious that one of the big items on the political right’s “to do” list is to mess with the presidency of Barack Obama. And they’ve chalked up a big win over the past few months:
A new survey conducted by the Pew Research Center and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, found that some 18 percent of Americans believe their President’s religion is Muslim. That’s an increase of seven percent over the past year and a half, as only 11 percent believed he is Muslim back in March of 2009.
Of course, they’re all wrong. President Obama is a life-long Christian, and proud of it. More than a third of Americans know this. Another 43 percent have no clue about where or how their president worships, a decline that translates into proof that about nine percent of Americans who knew he was Christian back in March of 2009 have now forgotten, or have become confused enough to say they are now unsure.
According to another poll, this one conducted by Time magazine and ABT SRBI, nearly one out of four Americans incorrectly believes President Obama is a practicing Muslim and another one out of four doesn’t know or didn’t answer the question. The good news is that nearly half of Americans responding to this poll have a handle on reality, and correctly believe Obama is a Christian.
It’s also interesting that the same Pew poll found a higher percentage (nearly 30%) of declared Republicans and conservatives are wrong about the President’s religion, believing him to be a Muslim when he is actually a Christian. This percentage is significantly higher than last year’s numbers who were wrong. Declared Democrats and liberals tend to have a tighter grip on reality, at least concerning our President’s preference for religious worship, but even their numbers have fallen below the 50 percent mark.
Even so called “independents” have lost ground on this simple fact of Obama’s avowed and practicing Christianity, with 18 percent of them wrongly believing that Obama is a Muslim — compared with just 10 percent of them who believed this fallacy back in March of 2009.
Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center, attributes this large degree of confusion and ignorance on the party of Americans at least partly to “the intensification of negative views about Obama among his critics.” Alan Cooperman, associate director for research with the Pew Forum, allowed as how it could have something to do with “…other people [who] make suggestions that the president is this or he’s really that or he’s really a Muslim.”
It’s not like this is any kind of intelligence test. Anyone who has been paying attention to the fact-based world could easily ascertain, or even just remember, that President Obama is an avowed Christian who habitually ends his speeches with “God bless America.”
Of course, the political right is not going to take credit for promoting this misinformation, or for confusing the American public, or for lying about President Obama’s religion. But they certainly deserve it, and those of us paying attention to modern American politics should give them all the credit they deserve for their success on this point. After all, nobody else is putting out disinformation about the President’s religion, and nobody else has much reason to do so. So when Americans believe what isn’t true about Obama, or forget something they once knew about Obama, or become confused about some of Obama’s factual history, the credit must go to those who are actively spreading disinformation and lies.
Keep up the good work, those of you on the political right. And here’s hoping you very soon reap the just rewards you so genuinely (or should that be “disingenuously”) deserve.