By CNN's Jack Cafferty:
Nearly half of Americans can't name President Obama's religion.
A new Gallup Poll shows only 34% of those surveyed correctly say that Obama is a Christian.
11% say he's a Muslim.
8% say Mr. Obama doesn't have a religious affiliation.
And a stunning 44% say they don't know what he is.
Where have these people been living?
President Obama has been in office for three and a half years and went through a grueling campaign to get there. A campaign during which his former minister, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and his controversial sermons played a key role.
It's just one more example of how uninformed many of us are.
Of course people who don't like the president continue to raise questions about both his religion and his birth place. And it seems that their efforts could be convincing – or at least confusing – some Americans.
The Gallup Poll also found a partisan gap here: Democrats are more likely than Republicans to correctly name the president's religion. In fact, 18% of Republicans say the president is a Muslim. That's nearly 1 in 5 Republicans.
The poll shows Independents are closer to Republicans than to Democrats when it comes to their knowledge of Obama's religion. That might not help the president in November.
Interestingly Americans are more likely to correctly name Mitt Romney's religion. Romney is a Mormon. Only 33% say they don't know that.
Some of that increased awareness when it comes to Romney is no doubt because he ran for president four years ago. A great deal was made of his being a Mormon back then.
Here’s my question to you: What does it mean if nearly half of Americans can't name President Obama's religion?
Interested to know which ones made it on air?
FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:
Republicans got God.
A new poll suggests they are much more likely to go to church than Democrats.
A Gallup Poll shows that 40% of Republicans say they attend church weekly.
Twenty-one percent say they attend nearly weekly or monthly, and 38% say they seldom or rarely go to church.
Compare that to only 27% of Democrats who say they go to church every week, 20% who say they go monthly and 52% of Democrats who say they seldom or never go to church.
These polls also show that Democrats are less religious than the average American, and Republicans are more religious.
Consider this: Almost one in five Democrats identify with no religious faith compared to only one in 10 Republicans who feel that way.
This might explain why religion often seems to play a more prominent role when it comes to Republican politicians, especially during primaries.
This time around in the GOP horse race for president:
Texas Gov. Rick Perry held a major prayer session in Houston before he announced his candidacy. Perry has also been known to pray for President Obama. In April, the Texas governor designated a three-day period as "days of prayer for rain" in his drought-stricken state.
Faith also plays a large role in Michele Bachmann's candidacy. While giving an economic speech just Tuesday, Bachmann suggested the United States return to its Judeo-Christian roots to bring back economic responsibility, "Cry out to holy God. It's not too late. He can save us."
As for Mitt Romney, it's unclear yet what impact, if any, his Mormon faith will have on his candidacy.
Here’s my question to you: Why are Republicans more likely than Democrats to go to church?
The great Yogi Berra said, "it's like deja vu all over again."
What we have here apparently is another religious, conservative Republican governor from Texas who wants to be president.
Only this one's last name isn't Bush.
Texas Governor Rick Perry is expected to strongly signal his intention to run for president in a speech in South Carolina on Saturday.
Perry's announcement is timed perfectly to upset the Iowa Straw Poll in Ames which is also on Saturday. Although Perry's name isn't on the ballot in Iowa, supporters are waging a write-in campaign.
After the speech in South Carolina, Perry is off to New Hampshire and then to Iowa to headline a fundraiser Sunday night.
The tea party favorite already has a certain appeal among conservatives who are looking for more options in a pretty sad Republican field. Working in Perry's favor, the Texas economy is doing better than most. Almost 40% of all the new jobs created in the U.S. since the recession started are in Texas. The state also has a balanced budget.
But Haven't we been here and done this? We already lived though eight years of a Christian evangelical governor from Texas in the White House... and we're still in therapy from the trauma of that little experiment gone awry.
This past weekend, Perry addressed believers at an all-day prayer vigil in Houston. Perry asked God to help comfort Americans stung by the troubled economy. He also prayed for President Obama.
He did all this in a stadium that was less than half full. And what about that separation of church and state thingy?
Here’s my question to you: Is another religious, conservative Republican governor from Texas the answer to our prayers?
(PHOTO CREDIT: THINKSTOCK)
If you believe the signs you see in a bus station or on a billboard, you're probably trying to pack a lot into the next few days.
According to a well-publicized campaign by a man named Harold Camping and his group, Family Radio, this Saturday is Judgment Day. On that day, about 200 million people, or just 3% of the world's population, will be taken to heaven, Camping believes. The rest of us will live in a world of chaos and catastrophe before the world comes to a complete end in October. Have a nice weekend.
Most people aren't buying Camping's claims, whether or not they believe in God or the second coming of Jesus or the afterlife. After all, Camping, an 89-year-old retired civil engineer, first predicted the world would end in 1994. Wrong. Now he's saying Saturday.
World-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking is one person who probably isn't too worried about doomsday predictions. Hawking said in an interview this week that he doesn't believe in an afterlife, and he said the notion of heaven is a "fairy story."
He told the British newspaper, The Guardian: "I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken-down computers."
Hawking has had a lot of time to contemplate life, death and this whole idea of heaven. At 21, he was diagnosed with ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease. It's a terminal illness that causes loss of mobility, and it severely impairs speech. He wasn't expected to live much past the diagnosis, but 49 years later, he's still here, writing books and going on speaking tours.
Here’s my question to you: British scientist Stephen Hawking says heaven is a “fairy story.” Do you agree?
The House Homeland Security Committee held a hearing entitled "The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and that Community's Response" on Capitol Hill on March 10. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)
A Senate Judiciary subcommittee led by Democratic Dick Durbin of Illinois will hold a hearing next week on Muslim-Americans' civil rights. Aren't they the same as every other Americans' civil rights? And is this what needs our immediate attention at this time? Sometimes the people in Washington can make you want to stick sharp objects in your eyes.
The Durbin circus comes just weeks after the circus led by Rep. Peter King, R-New York. He held congressional hearings on the topic of the radicalization of Muslim Americans. Those hearings sparked protests and demonstrations. Critics called them a witch hunt and said they sent the wrong message to Muslim-Americans.
Durbin is apparently trying to send a different message to Muslim-Americans, as if he doesn't have other, more important things to do. These hearings will be the first held by the new subcommittee on the Constitution, civil rights, human rights and the law.
Durbin says he's called for the hearings because there's been an uptick in anti-Muslim sentiment in this country. He says it's important to renew the nation's "commitment to religious diversity and to protect the liberties guaranteed by our Bill of Rights." Right.
However, according to The Washington Times, the latest FBI data show that hate crimes against Muslims account for just 9.3% of religious hate crimes in the United States. More than 70% of religious hate crimes were against Jews.
Meanwhile, we have no federal budget, three wars and we're broke. Lovely.
Here’s my question to you: Should the Senate hold hearings on Muslims’ rights in the United States?
People don't say "I do" like they used to.
A new poll shows almost 4 in 10 Americans say marriage is becoming obsolete. That’s a sharp increase from the 1970s.
The study done by the Pew Research Center - along with CNN's sister publication Time magazine - shows only about half of adults are married; down sharply from more than 70 percent fifty years ago.
This decline in marriage has happened along class lines, with college graduates being much more likely to still get hitched these days than those with a high school diploma or less. This makes a certain amount of sense given the unstable economy.
As the marriage rate has dropped, cohabitation is on the rise, almost doubling since 1990. Nearly half of all adults say they've lived with a partner out of wedlock at some point, and most of them consider it a step toward marriage
This poll also shows rapidly changing ideas of what makes up an American family. Today nearly 30 percent of children live with a parent or parents who are divorced or not married. That's five times as many as in 1960.
Most people agree a married couple with or without kids constitutes a family, but majorities now also say that unmarried couples - single parents or same-sex couples - with children also fit the definition of family.
Those most likely to accept changing definitions of family include young adults, liberals, secular and unmarried people and blacks. But don't count traditional marriage out yet.
Americans are still more optimistic about the future of marriage and family than they are about the nation's educational system, its economy or its morals and ethics.
Here’s my question to you: Is marriage becoming obsolete?
President Obama is Christian, yet somehow it's a fact that seems up for debate these days - with a growing number of Americans saying he's Muslim.
It's a false rumor that the president has been battling since he was a candidate, yet for many the issue is murkier than ever:
A new Pew Poll shows nearly one in five Americans believe Mr. Obama is a Muslim. That's up from one in 10 who felt that way last year.
Most of those who believe the president is Muslim are Republicans; but the number of Independents who think this way has grown significantly from last year. The number of people who are unsure about the president's religion is also higher - even among his supporters. Fewer than half of Democrats and African-Americans say that President Obama is Christian.
Part of the reason for this misinformation just may be comments like these: The Rev. Franklin Graham - son of the evangelist Billy Graham - told CNN, "I think the president's problem is that he was born a Muslim." Graham says "the seed of Islam" was passed through Mr. Obama's father; and although the president says he's accepted Jesus Christ, the Islamic world sees him as one of theirs.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell also weighed in with this quote: "The president says he's a Christian. I take him at his word."
Critics argue a remark like this suggests the debate over the president's religion is legitimate.
The White House says that the president is Christian and he prays daily. They point out Mr. Obama has spoken extensively about his faith in the past; but making sure Americans know he's a devout Christian isn't his top priority. And they have a point - it's not like there's a shortage of serious problems facing this country.
Here’s my question to you: Does the president's religion really matter?
The building which is poised to house the Cordoba Initiative Mosque and Cultural Center in Manhattan. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)
Sometimes no answer can be an answer. When asked if a portion of the $100 million needed to build the mosque and Islamic community center near Ground Zero might come from either Saudi Arabia or Iran, the developers refused to comment.
This only adds to the already heated controversy surrounding this project. Remember 15 of the 19 hijackers responsible for deaths of nearly 3,000 people and the destruction of the World Trade Center on September 11 came from Saudi Arabia. And the U.S. considers Iran a sponsor of terrorism.
Nonetheless - New York Governor David Paterson tells CNN he's still working on finding a compromise site for the mosque and Islamic center away from Ground Zero.
The developer, Sharif el-Gamal, has said the proximity of the planned mosque and center is not an issue.
If the people behind this project are sincere about community relations, you'd think they would do something about improving community relations - and talk to the governor about a compromise.
This is not about freedom of religion - no one is suggesting Muslims can't practice their religion. This is about insensitivity to what happened on September 11 and an affront to this city and country. The murders of 3,000 people were committed by muslim extremists.
That's the reason for the outcry from families of victims, rescue workers, and New Yorkers in general - 2/3 of them are opposed. It's simply unrealistic to think you can build a muslim house of worship two blocks from where this awful thing happened and not get a negative reaction. But then I think the developers probably know that.
Here’s my question to you: What's the real reason that the Muslim community doesn't want to relocate the mosque and Islamic community center planned near Ground Zero?
The building which is poised to house the Cordoba Initiative Mosque and Cultural Center in Manhattan. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images) (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)
Pres. Obama has stepped into a real firestorm in defending a planned mosque near Ground Zero. He's also managed to turn what was a highly emotional debate here in New York into a national conversation.
On Friday, the president called Ground Zero "hallowed ground," but said Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else. He said that includes the right to build a mosque and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan. The next day - the president seemed to backtrack by saying he wasn't "commenting on the wisdom" of the project... but rather the idea that the government should treat everyone equally, regardless of religion.
Republicans are pouncing on the president's comments, calling him insensitive to families of 9/11 victims. Some point out that even though the president may be right intellectually, this is an emotional issue.
Families of 9/11 victims are divided over the proposed mosque and Islamic community center. A recent CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll shows almost 70 percent of Americans oppose the plan.
The New York landmarks preservation commission has said the the project can go forward. The Islamic center is set to include a mosque, a performing arts center, a lecture hall, a swimming pool, a gym, a restaurant... and a mosque.
New York Gov. David Paterson has offered to relocate the mosque to a less controversial location on state-owned land... but the project's developers said no.
Here’s my question to you: Are Muslims buying themselves unnecessary problems by insisting on building a mosque near Ground Zero in New York?
Opponents of a proposed Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero attend a community board meeting to debate the issue in lower Manhattan. The site is so close to the location of the 9/11 terror attacks that debris from one of the hijacked planes smashed through the roof of the existing building there. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)
The debate over a proposed mosque near Ground Zero keeps heating up.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is now firing back at Sarah Palin, who called on New Yorkers to "refudiate" - her very own made-up word - the planned mosque only blocks away from the site of the 9/11 terror attacks.
Palin called it an "unnecessary provocation" that "stabs hearts."
Bloomberg says Palin has a right to her opinions, but that he couldn't disagree more, adding: "Everything the United States stands for and New York stands for is tolerance and openness."
But even before Palin decided to step into this one - the issue has stirred lots of controversy and passion here in New York. Some relatives of 9/11 victims say it would be like a monument for terrorists... or a "sacrilege on sacred ground."
And local Republican politicians are calling for an investigation on how the center would be financed... they're also raising questions about the views of its leader. Opponents are hoping to get the city's landmarks commission to protect the current structure thereby blocking the mosque project from going forward.
But supporters insist the mosque would represent the voice of moderate Muslims. They say it's meant to improve relations between Islam and the West, and add that the location - only steps away from Ground Zero - shows how important religious freedom is in the U.S.
Some 9/11 families also support the mosque, saying there's no better symbol of tolerance and inclusion.
Besides a mosque, the proposed $100 million community center would stand 13 stories tall and include a gym, swimming pool and performing space which would be open to anyone.
Here’s my question to you: Is it a good idea to build a mosque near Ground Zero?
Jack Cafferty sounds off hourly on the Situation Room on the stories crossing his radar. Now, you can check in with Jack online to see what he's thinking and weigh in with your own comments online and on TV.
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