August 20th, 2010
12:00 PM ET

You've gotta have faith

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/08/19/c1main.obama.church.gi.jpg caption="President Obama speaking in a Washington church earlier this year." width=300 height=169]

President Obama has a problem with faith. Mind you, I did not say a problem with HIS faith. He is a Christian and has made that clear. His trouble lies in the public’s perception of his faith, because steadily growing numbers of voters are buying into the myth that he is a Muslim.

A new study from The Pew Research Center has found that one-in-five Americans now think he worships in a mosque, a sharp increase from Inauguration Day, and the numbers who think he is Christian have declined just as steeply. You don’t have to be a professor of political science to realize in our post 9-11 America, this is not the sort of thing you want echoing over your party’s already difficult midterm election, let alone your own re-election hopes.

The question is why do people believe this?

As much as pundits made of George Bush wearing his Christianity on his sleeve, Barack Obama mentions God and faith more often in his speeches and town meetings than Mr. Bush did. He and his family picked out a church near DC to abundant headlines, and yet questions continue to hover over his faith like gnats at a summer picnic.

My theory is that three things have set up this problem.

First, many voters were never quite sure what kind of Christian he was to begin with. The uproar during the campaign over Rev. Jeremiah Wright (who was more of a flame throwing political activist in the minds of some churchgoers,) coupled with candidate Obama’s crack about people clinging to religion, clearly made even a lot of mainstream Christians a tad queasy.

Second, his outreach to the Muslim world came with a certain coolness toward more traditional allies, like Germany, France, and England, many of which are predominantly Christian.

And third, just like most presidents, he doesn’t actually seem to go to church often. That’s not a problem if you are Ronald Reagan and the Christian Right is standing beside you. But that crowd is not vouching for President Obama, and so he is largely alone in his profession of faith even as the Internet grumbles with rumors, and lies about his supposed secret Muslim identity.

So I’ll say it again. President Obama is Christian, not Muslim. But it might take a miracle to convince the rest of America that it’s true.

Filed under: President Barack Obama • Tom Foreman
soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. MA Moore

    If it walks like a Muslim and talks like a Muslim, chances are its a Muslim. Lets separate Church and State please.

    August 20, 2010 at 6:15 pm |
  2. Michele Gomis

    sorry: ..."mind" set... didn't check spelling....

    August 20, 2010 at 2:54 pm |
  3. Get The Facts

    This is a ridiculous Article. Obama is a christian. The GOP is at it again. By any means necessary, these incompetents attack any and everything with lies and deceit.

    Is that what you want in Congress and the Senate?
    I'm tired of the Republican lies, deceit, and Tea Party Joke !!!

    August 20, 2010 at 2:08 pm |
  4. Michele Gomis

    The expression and apparent durability of this foolish myth (in the face of direct and reliable refutation) is a classic example of how the "body politic" functions all too often. Facts be gone! I want to believe whatever conveniently feeds my biases. It is the same odd-ball mid set that wants to believe in pyramid power and other specious (i.e.: deceptively pleasing) nonsense. I hope CNN is not waging a loosing battle to inform and enlighten the segment of the general public which function at this level.

    August 20, 2010 at 2:06 pm |
  5. Noor Amare

    So what if President Obama was a Muslim.we preach the idea of democracy every day all around the world.is that what we trying to tell the kids of Iraq and Afghanistan that thy can't be a Presidents of their country because thy are Muslim and thy are not worthy to be a leader of free nation?I don't believe the President is a Muslim in any way shape or form!!

    My self sir I'M a Muslim. I fight five tours in Iraq and I'm very proud of my faith and my service to this great country of ours!!



    August 20, 2010 at 1:58 pm |
  6. Cornelius

    I guess the bigger statement is: who cares? Scrutiny has no bounds.

    August 20, 2010 at 1:57 pm |
  7. Dave S

    I'm so sick of the downward spiral of stupidity in this country. With all the gullibility and lack of independent thought, it's no wonder so many people are scammed of their money, identities, etc.

    August 20, 2010 at 1:38 pm |
  8. ambria

    Some pepole may have some doubts for one he supports building a massque near ground zero. I have lived in New York. Try finding a Church of Christ anywhere remotly close to the city.Everyone should be able to see though the presiden's faith is deep he really cares and wants to help the people in this country who really need it regardless of others perseption of his faith.He stands up for the little guy and I hope he keeps the faith that has brought him this far.

    August 20, 2010 at 1:06 pm |
  9. K S Verdi, San Antonio, TX

    I believe the problem to be the following: Deep down inside Mr. Obama is a good person who wants to do good but just doesn't know how! people get confused if he says one thing one day and another the next. Those solid, hardworking, real life citizens want the TRUTH, that's all, just give us the TRUTH and take a stand and STICK TOI IT; otherwise things like: " If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and, in this case, QUACKS like a duck, will make the majority of the public very suspicious!

    August 20, 2010 at 1:01 pm |
  10. Amy

    I honestly don't understand why it matters. There is no Constitutional mandate that the president be Christian. The constant, forceful denials give the impression that he believes there is something wrong with being a Muslim.

    August 20, 2010 at 12:44 pm |
  11. JDB

    This is just one more in an endless parade of examples of how religion really does poison everything. Religion has caused more misery to all of mankind in every stage of human history than any other single idea.

    August 20, 2010 at 12:32 pm |
  12. Mark Thelen

    Any one associated with Muslim beliefs carries that possible "sleeper agent" with them. So many times we have heard in the news "He just seemed like everyone else" and then something happens. That, coupled with him being a politician, I will feel comfortable knowing what is true motives and desires really are.

    August 20, 2010 at 12:29 pm |
  13. Şafak

    I do not get it! What on earth could happen if he was Muslim?

    August 20, 2010 at 12:25 pm |
  14. Susan

    I ask you how do you have faith.No money no job and you have lost everything. you are finding places to stay with people who will let you in. How do you have faith?
    How do you come back from this point?
    How dan you achieve anything from this point when you have no way to get out of this hole?
    I had faith the first year and heading into a nearly completed second year. I have always worked. But with no car no permanent address how do you have faith?
    The President needs to think about if his life was turned upside down in this economy... Thanks

    August 20, 2010 at 12:13 pm |