The more people get to know the president, the more they disbelieve him when he says he’s a Christian. It does not exaggerate to say there’s never been anything like this in presidential politics.
In March 2008, a Pew Research Center poll showed that 47 percent of the public said presidential-candidate Barack Obama was a Christian; 12 percent said he was Muslim and 36 percent said, “Don’t Know.” More than two years later, in August 2010, when asked about President Obama’s religion, only 34 percent believed he was a Christian; those thinking he was Muslim grew to 18 percent, and 43 percent said, “Don’t Know.” The latest Gallup poll, released June 22, finds that he’s still regarded by only 34 percent as a Christian; 11 percent say he’s Muslim, and 44 percent say, “Don’t Know.”
The comparison with Mitt Romney is striking: a 2007 Pew Research Center survey found that 42 percent identified the Republican as a Mormon; in 2011, the number jumped to 48 percent; and a poll from March 2012 reported that 58 percent said he was a Mormon.
In other words, the more the public learns about Romney, the more likely they are to identify him as a Mormon. Education works. But education has no effect on the public’s perception of Obama’s religion. The fact that two-thirds of the public do not believe the president when he says he’s a Christian—and his claim has been reported over and over again—suggests there is something about his persona, and/or his policies, that give people pause.
Could it be that President Obama’s war on religion explains why the public distrusts him when he says he’s a Christian?