Barack Obama's Religion: Why None of Us Should Give a Goddamn
Not knowing (or, better, caring) what religion your president is is actually not such a big deal. In fact, it might just demonstrate a certain open-mindedness and even a respect for the principles upon which our very country was founded (separation of church and state, right?). But, apparently, not only do 1 in 5 Americans think they know what religion President Obama is, 1 in 5 Americans are wrong.
According to a new Pew Research survey, 18 percent of Americans think Obama is Muslim, up from 11 percent in March. One-third of adults say he's a Christian (he is, not that that should matter), which is down from almost half in 2009.
Upon the backdrop of the controversy of the proposed mosque at Ground Zero -- and in fairness, this poll was completed prior to Obama's recent comments as to his support of the mosque -- these numbers are particularly disturbing. Perhaps most disturbing is the association of "Muslim" with lack of favorability: As Obama's favorability ranking plummets, his "Muslim" ranking rises. And, it's mostly his political opponents (conservative Republicans and those who disapprove of his job performance ) who keep harping on his "Muslim" status. That is fucked up!
America, we know we have problems. We know that there is latent racism at the core of many of us, and overt racism throughout others. By the way, the White House really wants you to know that Obama is a Christian:
"While the president has been diligent and personally committed to his own Christian faith, there's certainly folks who are intent on spreading falsehoods about the president and his values and beliefs," said faith adviser Joshua DuBois.
DuBois said the president's Christian faith plays an "important part" in his daily life. And he pointed to six speeches on faith that the president has given in which he talked about his beliefs. But Dubois said coverage of Obama's Christianity has been scant compared with news about the economic crisis, legislative battles and other issues.
Why should coverage of Obama's religion be anything but scant in comparison to, say, the economy, health care, or war? In promoting Obama's Christianity as though there's something wrong with being Muslim (because, of course, political detractors want you to think that there is), isn't the defensive White House stance doing a disservice to American religious tolerance in general, not to mention adding to further stereotyping of Muslims who are simply Muslims, and not imbued with any "terrorist" or otherwise unAmerican leanings? Should Obama really have to prove he's Christian?
Some 61 percent of people are railing against the proposed mosque near Ground Zero, saying things like "Muslims did this to us there, and, now it's going to remind us of that all over again, and we are deeply insulted"... but that takes the very sketchy leap that "Muslims" are one and the same with terrorists. Others have pointed out that Muslims died (were insulted!) in the World Trade Center attacks, too, and also, terrorists were co-opting the religion inappropriately, for their own twisted uses. Which is what terrorists do. (Sirhan Sirhan, for example, was a "Christian," if you'll recall. So was Hitler. Fanatics are fanatics, and should be really be excused from representing any particular religion since they are fanatics -- i.e., CRAZY PEOPLE.)
Meanwhile, Obama has pledged to support a bill helping September 11th first responders that Republicans initially blocked. Who's "Muslim" in that situation?
FYI: Bloomberg is also supporting the mosque. And his favorability ranking also recently plummeted. Does anyone think he's Muslim? Does his religion have anything to do with anything, besides his religion?
43 percent of us, by the way, don't know what Obama's religion is, and more than half of people think the church should keep out of politics. And according to another study, two in three Americans say religion is losing its influence in American life, up from 59 percent who said so in 2006.
Maybe we're cool with that.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.
- We Found the Most Fascinating (and Depressing) Site on the Internet
Sat., Nov. 28, 8:00pm
Sun., Nov. 29, 9:45am
Sun., Nov. 29, 10:00am
Sun., Nov. 29, 12:00pm
- This Brooklyn Local is Making a Web Series about Growing Weed
- New York City's Food Pantries Are Struggling to Keep Up With a Growing Demand For Meals