According to a new national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, 11 percent of Americans still believe President Barack Obama is a Muslim. Seven percent of Democrats believe it. And nearly 20 percent of evangelicals do.
What I find fascinating is that the same study shows only 55 percent of Democrats know or believe Obama is a Christian, even after Obama spent nearly two years on the presidential campaign trail spouting his views and beliefs on everything under the sun.
Moreover, about 1 in 3 people don't have any idea what his religious convictions are. Should the percentages be that high? Religion might be a private choice, but should it be a secret one, too, even for leaders?
While those stats say something about Obama's neutrality and respect for representing our nation's religious melting pot, they also say something about the politically correct climate across our land, in which people are afraid to stand up for their convictions so as not to be branded as intolerant or bigots. We have become a nation that fears opinion. Even Holy Week, once celebrated in the corridors of the Capitol, is now a clandestine commemoration full of holy hesitations.
America's Founders built this nation upon religious freedom. They valued denominational pluralism. They were unified in their diversity. They all believed in a Creator. And they were almost all vocal about their Christian beliefs. They certainly weren't ashamed. And neither should we be, especially during this week.
I believe in God, just as our Founders did. As Benjamin Franklin noted in his 1787 pamphlet for those in Europe thinking of relocating to America: "To this may be truly added, that serious religion, under its various denominations, is not only tolerated but respected and practiced. Atheism is unknown there."
I also believe in the First Amendment, which reads: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." The American Civil Liberties Union and like-minded groups are not preserving First Amendment rights; they are perverting the meaning of the Establishment Clause (which was to prevent the creation of a national church, such as the Church of England) to deny the Free Exercise Clause (which preserves our right to worship as we want, privately and publicly). Both clauses were intended to safeguard religious liberty, not to circumscribe its practice. The Framers were seeking to guarantee a freedom of religion, not a freedom from religion.