Faith & Politics: Obama Muslim? GOP ignorant? Bias? tone of New York Daily News coverage seemed to chide Southern voters, but New York Times’ Rosenthal raised serious questions about the polling.Controversy! Confusion! Depending on what news sources you checked in the last 24 hours, you know that much of the GOP believes the president is a Muslim (he’s not). You may have heard the implication that a big portion of the GOP is ignorant (also not the case). And you’ve heard that GOP voters are religiously biased toward their evangelical faith (and that understandably may be the case for many).

Bottom line: This is a preview of the fury yet to come in the 2012 campaign. At issue in recent days is a report by Public Policy Polling (PPP) that wound up echoing through news outlets around the world. The major headline from the report is that large portions of GOP voters in the South think Obama is a Muslim; and a majority of those voters don’t believe in evolution, another faith-based assumption.

The New York Daily News called the polling results “stunning” with a headline chiding Southern GOP voters: “Obama’s Muslim, Evolution Is Fake and Rush Limbaugh is Great.” Some other Northern news media also made hay from the poll at the expense of Southern voters.

Not everyone played the news that way, however. The UK’s respected Guardian newspaper warns that the truth about American faith and politics is more complex than that. And, no less of a New York Times staffer than Andrew Rosenthal—the man in charge of the Times’ editorial pages—called into question PPP polling methods and all but sneered at the value of its conclusions. Count both the Guardian and the Times as warning Democrats not to scoff too quickly at Republicans over this particular poll.

One thing is certain: The two big Republican primaries yesterday didn’t wield a deathblow to any of the top three candidates, but Santorum’s strong showing slowed Romney’s accumulation of delegates. The race is still on. There’s much more to come!

Whatever the precise portion of American voters who are confused about the president’s faith and may think that evolution is hogwash—there’s also no question: People with these views number in the millions.

What do you make of the prevalence of these beliefs?

Will it affect the November election?

What news media do you rely on for political reporting?

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Originally published at, an online experiment in civil dialogue.

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