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Obama's Religion Still A Campaign Issue: Some Alabama, Mississippi GOP Voters Believe President Is Muslim

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US President Barack Obama speaks during a campaign event at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas, on March 9, 2012. (JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama speaks during a campaign event at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas, on March 9, 2012. (JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

Ask President Barack Obama about his religious affiliation, and he's a Christian. Ask Mississippi or Alabama voters, and you might find a different answer.

In the midst of tight GOP primaries in both states, Public Policy Polling (PPP) has released information showing that a majority of likely GOP primary voters in the Deep South do not see Obama as a Christian. PPP's Alabama survey of 600 likely GOP primary voters found that only 14 percent consider Obama a Christian, while 45 percent said he is a Muslim and 41 percent answered that they were not sure.

A similar picture surfaced in Mississippi. Of 656 likely GOP primary voters surveyed, 12 percent said Obama was a Christian, 52 percent classified him as a Muslim, and 36 percent fell in the "not sure" category.

The survey emerges on the heels of a recent stream of public questioning regarding Obama's religion. Back on Feb. 18, Rick Santorum took aim at the president's beliefs, charging that his White House decisions are driven by a "different theology."

"It's not about your quality of life," Santorum told supporters at a Tea Party rally in Columbus, Ohio. "It's not about your jobs. It's about some phony ideal. Some phony theology. Oh, not a theology based on the Bible."

Three days later, evangelist Franklin Graham joined the chorus, leaning toward the same opinion of those unsure Southern voters. Obama "has said he's a Christian, so I just have to assume that he is," Graham said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."

Facing criticism from prominent black religious leaders, Graham later apologized for his remarks.

"I regret any comments I have ever made which may have cast any doubt on the personal faith of our president, Mr. Obama," he said in a statement.

Religion rumors are nothing new for Obama. Back in August 2010, a poll showed that almost one-fifth of all Americans believed he is a Muslim. Obama responded in an interview with "NBC Nightly News" saying that "the facts are the facts" regarding his Christian faith.

Clarification: A previous headline for this article did not specify, as the article did, which group had been polled about the president's religious affiliation. Language has been added to clarify this.

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