From the New York Times:
In Defining Obama, Misperceptions Stick
Now comes fresh evidence of misperceptions about the president taking root in the public mind: a new poll by the Pew Research Center finds a substantial rise in the percentage of Americans who believe, incorrectly, that Mr. Obama is Muslim. The president is Christian, but 18 percent now believe he is Muslim, up from 12 percent when he ran for the presidency and 11 percent after he was inaugurated.
The findings suggest that, nearly two years into Mr. Obama’s presidency, the White House is struggling with the perception of “otherness” that Candidate Obama sought so hard to overcome — in part because of an aggressive misinformation campaign by critics and in part, some Democratic allies say, because Mr. Obama is doing a poor job of communicating who he is and what he believes. ...
But Mr. Kohut also said the numbers reflected that Mr. Obama had “not made religion a part of his public persona” as much as he did during his presidential campaign — so much so that even his own supporters are confused.
Among Democrats, for example, just 46 percent said Mr. Obama was Christian, down from 55 percent in March 2009, two months after he took office. ...
The White House says the public — and the press — are not listening. Since taking office, Mr. Obama has given six speeches either from a church pulpit or addressing religion in public life — including an Easter prayer breakfast where he “offered a very personal and candid reflection of what the Resurrection means to him,” said Joshua DuBois, who runs the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.
But the Easter address attracted scant attention in the news media. And the fact that the Obama family has not joined a church in Washington — the president has said his presence would be too disruptive — has not helped, because the public rarely sees images of them attending services.
Initially, Obama made a big deal about his belonging to Rev. Wright's church, until the public was finally clued in — after 42 states had held their primaries — as to what Rev. Wright's church was really like. James Edwards calls it a Black Muslim church in Christian drag, and the prominent left-of-center British man of letters Jonathan Raban visited Wright's church before the storm broke and came to roughly the same conclusion about Wright's church, and concluded that Obama appears to be an agnostic.
Obama officially renounced membership in Trinity around June 1, 2008, and more than two years later he still hasn't joined another church.
But that's all pretty boring. By this point we know that Obama will do what he has to do to win the big prize, but not much more — he's not made out of energy, you know.
Here's what is interesting in this NYT article:
The White House says Mr. Obama prays daily, sometimes in person or over the telephone with a small circle of Christian pastors. One of them, the Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell, who was also a spiritual adviser to former President George W. Bush, telephoned a reporter on Wednesday, at the White House’s behest. He said he was surprised that the number of Americans who say Mr. Obama is Muslim is growing. “I must say,” Mr. Caldwell said, “never in the history of modern-day presidential politics has a president confessed his faith in the Lord, and folks basically call him a liar.”
Kirbyjon Caldwell? Where have I heard that name before?
Oh ... yeah ...
It's in George W. Bush's speech to the October 15, 2002 White House Conference on Increasing Minority Homeownership:
And then there's my friend Kirbyjon Caldwell. He not only provides counseling and job training, he actually decided to encourage a development of homes in the Houston area. People — low-income people are going to be able to more afford a home in Texas because of Kirbyjon's vision and work. He's answered the call of faith to help people help themselves and to help them realize dreams.
The other thing Kirbyjon told me, which I really appreciate, is you don't have to have a lousy home for first-time home buyers. If you put your mind to it, the first-time home buyer, the low-income home buyer can have just as nice a house as anybody else. And I know Kirbyjon. He is what I call a social entrepreneur who is using his platform as a Methodist preacher to improve the neighborhood and the community in which he lives.
Kirbyjon Caldwell is a black Wharton MBA turned investment banker turned megachurch preacher turned Bush adviser turned author of The Gospel of Good Success turned real estate developer turned Obama supporter turned officiator at Jenna Bush's wedding turned Obama adviser.
Whew, that's a relief! So we can rest easy knowing that Obama is turning for advice to the same minister who gave Bush such good advice on how first-time low-income homebuyers need zero downpayment mortgages so they can have just as nice a house as anybody else.