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1 in 5 in U.S. believe Obama is Muslim

The public's confusion about U.S. President Barak Obama's religion persists, with a growing segment of the public believing Obama is Muslim, according to a new study from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. 

In 2008 and 2009, only 11% of the public claimed Obama was Muslim.  That number had climbed to 18% by August of this year.  The survey collected data from 3003 adults living in the continental United States. 

"Beliefs about Obama’s religion are closely linked to political judgments about him," the report said.  "The view that Obama is Muslim is more widespread among his political opponents than among his backers." 

In fact, the disparity between supporters and opponents is enormous. 

More than 6 in 10 (67%) of those who disapprove of the President's job performance believe Obama is Muslim.  While among those who approve of the job the President is doing, less than 3 in 10 (27%) say he is Muslim. Those unsure about Obama's religion were split on his job performance.

A plurality of those surveyed (43%) have no idea what the President's religion is.

The report found that survey respondents correlated Christianity with positive assessments of the President. While only 34% of the general public believes Obama is a Christian, 62% of those who approve of the President believe he is a Christian. 

Those who believe Obama practices Islam, meanwhile, say they learned this through media sources, especially television, and even the President's own words.

ABC News blamed an erroneous 2007 Fox & Friends report as being one of the roots of the notion that Obama is Muslim.  The Fox report cited Insight magazine's claim that Obama was educated as a Muslim in Indonesia in his childhood.  

CNN quotes prominent evangelical Franklin Graham who said Obama's own background is responsible for rumors of a Muslim affliation.

During his campaign for president in 2007, Obama acknowledged attending a Muslim school as a child, but he denied it had any influence on his religious formation.

While the President has been quiet about his faith and has not joined any single church during his tenure in office, he and his family worship in Christian congregations.    

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