August 18, 2010

New Pew Research Center Survey Reveals Growing Number of Americans Who Say Barack Obama is a Muslim

For Immediate Release 

Washington, D.C. — A new national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life finds 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. More than a year and a half into his presidency, a plurality of the public says they do not know what religion Obama follows.


Liga Plaveniece
Communications Associate

According to the survey, nearly one-in-five Americans (18%) now say Obama is a Muslim — an increase from 11% in March 2009. Only about one-third of adults (34%) say Obama is a Christian, a sharp decrease from 48% in 2009. Fully 43% say they do not know what Obama’s religion is. The survey was completed in early August, before Obama’s recent comments about the proposed construction of a mosque near the site of the former World Trade Center.   

The belief that Obama is a Muslim has increased most sharply among Republicans (up 14 points since 2009), especially conservative Republicans (up 16 points). But the number of independents who say Obama is a Muslim has also increased significantly (up eight points). There has been little change in the number of Democrats who say Obama is a Muslim, but fewer Democrats today say he is a Christian (down nine points since 2009).

The new poll, conducted between July 21 and Aug. 5 among 3,003 respondents, also examines the link between Americans’ perception of Obama’s religion and their opinion of his job performance, and covers views on the president’s approach to religion, including the influence of his religious beliefs on policy decisions. In addition, the survey explores Americans’ attitudes toward churches’ involvement in politics and religion’s influence on American life and government, and looks at religion’s impact on voting preferences for the upcoming 2010 congressional races.

The report, including a summary and topline questionnaire, will be accessible on the Forum’s new Web feature, “Religion & Politics 2010,” which provides a variety of election resources, including:

  • Poll analyses and survey reports on topics related to the midterm elections
  • Links to news stories about religion-related issues impacting 2010 congressional and gubernatorial races around the country
  • “Election news briefs” highlighting interesting articles and common themes making news headlines

The Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life conducts surveys, demographic analyses and other social science research on important aspects of religion and public life in the U.S. and around the world. As part of the Washington-based Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan, nonadvocacy organization, the Pew Forum does not take positions on any of the issues it covers or on policy debates.