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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

First Church of Burning Tree

It was pretty alarming when Pew released a poll earlier this week showing that the percentage of Americans who believe the president is a Muslim has actually increased in recent months from 11% to 18%. But then came a Time Magazine poll actually conducted this week in the midst of the Muslim-bashing frenzy involving the “Ground Zero Mosque,” showing 24% of Americans–and 46% of Republicans–beleving the president is a Muslim. It’s about time to conclude this phenomenon has transcended the Americans-believe-funny-things meme that dismisses findings of this nature as simply a reflection of the gullibility or suggestibility of low-information voters.
But the really maddening thing is that Obama–who in my own opinion is one of the most profoundly Christian politicians in memory–is getting blamed for this belief on grounds that he hasn’t made a sufficient display of his faith. Here’s Josh Gerstein at Politico:

When he came to Washington as president, many expected Obama would select a new church or sample many different ones. But in more than 19 months he’s been in office, he has been seen heading to the golf course more than to church.

No one, of course, doubted Ronald Reagan’s religiosity even though he never affiliated with a church in Washington. And the famously pious George W. Bush wasn’t much seen in churches as president, either.
As for playing golf on the Sabbath, I’m reminded again of the time when the wife of “Mr. Republican,” Sen. Robert Taft, was asked where her husband worshipped on Sunday mornings. “Burning Tree,” she blurted out, referring to the congressional golf course.
In this as in many other respects, Barack Obama is being held to a different standard than most politicians, but I guess that’s just his cross to bear.

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