BEIJING, Aug. 19 (Xinhuanet) -- More Americans, nearly one in five (18 percent), incorrectly see U.S. President Barack Obama as a Muslim, up from 11 percent last year, according to a Pew Research Center poll released Thursday.
The increase has occurred over the last couple of years, and the poll was taken before the president stepped into the fray of the Ground Zero mosque controversy.
The poll shows that the number of people who now correctly identify Obama as a Christian has dropped to 34 per cent, down from 51 percent when he took office in 2008.
Alan Cooperman, associate director of research for the Pew Forum, says, "When we simply ask people, 'Do you happen to know what is Obama's religion?' it is only one-third of Americans who say he is a Christian. The largest single percentage, almost half of Americans, don't know what religion he is."
Among those who say Obama is a Muslim, 60 percent say they learned about his religion from the media, suggesting that their opinions are fuelled by misinformation, says the poll.
Expressing dismay over the poll results, White House faith adviser Joshua DuBois blamed "misinformation campaigns" by the president's opponents.
"While the president has been diligent and personally committed to his own Christian faith, there's certainly folks who are intent on spreading falsehoods about the president and his values and beliefs," he said.
Obama drew harsh criticism over last weekend for voicing his support of a Muslim group's right to build a controversial community center near the site of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York.