To believe one poll released today, half of Republican voters surveyed at the weekend in Mississippi and Alabama believe the US president to be a Muslim. Roughly two thirds also said they did not believe in evolution.
The Democratic Party-aligned agency Public Policy Polling released a survey today (PDF) saying that Tuesday’s Republican presidential primaries in the two states were likely to be closely fought, giving a slight margin for Newt Gingrich in Mississippi (33 percent to 31 percent over Mitt Romney) and putting Romney just ahead of Gingrich in Alabama (31 percent to 30 percent for Gingrich).
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But the poll asked a very simple question of the 656 respondents surveyed in automated telephone interviews: “Do you think Barack Obama is a Christian, a Muslim or are you not sure?”
In Alabama 45 percent said they thought the president was a Muslim and in Mississippi the number rose to 52 percent. The results would be twice the national average found in a 2010 poll, according to The Huffington Post.
Obama and his supporters have devoted an unexpected level of energy to refuting claims that he is a Muslim which rose with fervor in 2010. His website currently denies allegations that he is a Muslim, attended a “radical madrassa” or was sworn in as a US senator with Koran, not a bible.
Barack Hussein Obama wrote in his memoirs that he was not raised in a religious household and that his Kenyan father, although raised as a Muslim, was a “confirmed atheist” by the time his parents met in 1961, according to Wikipedia, which says that Obama was baptized in 1988.
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During the presidential campaign in 2008, former Secretary of State Colin Powell crossed party lines to endorse Obama but took issue with the smear that the candidate was not Christian and arguing that there was no shame in being Muslim.
“He's always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer's no, that's not America. Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president?” Powell said on Meet the Press.
According to the poll, 60 percent of Alabamian Republican respondents said they did not believe in the evolutionary theory of life and 66 percent of Mississippian Republicans felt likewise.