Pew Survey: Growing Number Of Americans Say President Obama Is Muslim : The Two-Way More and more Americans say they are either unsure of President Obama's religious beliefs, or they think he is a Muslim, a new Pew Research Center survey shows.
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Pew Survey: Growing Number Of Americans Say President Obama Is Muslim

According to a new survey by the Pew Research Center, more and more Americans say President Obama is a Muslim. Jewel Samad/AFP hide caption

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Jewel Samad/AFP

The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press has released a new report, indicating that a "substantial and growing number of Americans say that Barack Obama is a Muslim, while the proportion saying he is a Christian has declined."

...nearly one-in-five Americans (18%) now say Obama is a Muslim, up from 11% in March 2009. Only about one-third of adults (34%) say Obama is a Christian, down sharply from 48% in 2009. Fully 43% say they do not know what Obama’s religion is.

In an interview with NPR's Linda Wertheimer, Pew Research Center President Andrew Kohut said he thinks this "has to do with the fact that religion is not a prominent part of Barack Obama's persona."

By and large, those respondents who wrongly said Obama is a Muslim were Republican and conservative. Most of them said they disagreed with the president's platform and policies.

That said, a number of Democratic voters said they were unsure of Obama's religious beliefs.

The survey, which took place between July 21 and Aug. 5, closed before the current controversy surrounding plans to build an Islamic center, which would include a mosque, near Ground Zero, in Lower Manhattan.

Last week, at an Iftar dinner at the White House, the president said that, "as a citizen, and as a president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country."

And that includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in Lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances.  This is America.  And our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakeable.  The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country and that they will not be treated differently by their government is essential to who we are.  The writ of the Founders must endure.

Is it important for a president to be publicly religious? To talk about his beliefs?

According to Kohut, "a majority of people say a president having strong religious faith is important to them."

They don't want a president who governs by religion, but they see it as an important value.