Annals of American Ignorance: Or; The President Prays Every Day, And So Should We All

August 20, 2010, 12:10 am

It’s all over the news lately that, according to a new poll conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, nearly one in five Americans is dumber than a rock — er, I mean, thinks that Barack is a Muslim (not that there’s anything wrong with that!) The increase in those who believe that Obama sneaks off to the mosque behind our backs — seven percent since last spring- is accompanied by a “sharp decline” of 14% in the number of Americans who think Obama is a Christian.

In May 2009, LiveScience reported that one out of five Americans admit that they pee in the swimming pool. The Centers for Disease Control reports that one out of six Americans has genital herpes, one out of five Americans infected with HIV do not know they have it, the American Dental Association reports (gag!!) that one out of five Americans surveyed do not brush their teeth twice a day, and the National Institute of Mental Health reports that more than one in four Americans suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder.
So who cares what Americans think about the President’s spiritual life? Tend to your own damn gardens, America, that’s what I say, and don’t forget to wear a rubber when you are playing any version of hide the salami. For a list of the other things characterizing one out of five Americans, go to this article in The Washington Post.
Interestingly, the number of African-American people who think the President is a Muslim has only risen from 6% to 7% in the same period in which whites in both parties, and those registered in neither party, have been successfully brainwashed by paid political operatives and radio talk show hosts. Given that the margin of error for each category was around 4% (and I suspect somewhat higher for African Americans, since their proportion of the survey group was probably the same as their percentage of the population), we can say with some confidence that it seems to be only white people who are obsessed with this question and there may be no black people who believe that Obama is a Muslim.
Odd that the media is not reporting this, isn’t it? I guess this is what it means to be post-racial.
Stranger still, given how much talk there has been about the President’s religion, in the part of the poll that links job approval to the Christian/Muslim question two out of five Americans, when asked about his religion, said they didn’t know what religion the President was. This is truly amazing, since the right answer and the wrong answer are available on every media outlet nearly every day. And finally, when asked a series of questions about the proper role of religion in politics, and specifically on presidential decision-making, two out of five Americans were unaware that religious conservatives or liberals had created formal lobbying organizations to try to influence politicians and policy-making.
While the White House has reassured us that the President is not only Christian, he prays every day, there is very little concern being expressed about how unbelievably ignorant and ill-informed Americans are, and why Americans think being religious — much less having the “right” religion — has anything to do with policy-making. Not since the 1960 Presidential campaign, when John F. Kennedy had to repeatedly reassure Americans that he would not appoint the Pope to a cabinet post, has religion and the paranoia that Protestants in America harbor towards religions associated with non-white and immigrant people, been such an accepted part of the political landscape.
And not since the nineteenth century has rumor been such an acceptable substitute for being well-informed for so many people. But that may be because only one in five Americans reads above a twelfth grade level.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
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