A new public opinion poll shows 18 percent of Americans wrongly believe President Barack Obama is a Muslim.
The number of Americans with that mistaken idea has risen in the past year, although President Obama is a practicing Christian and has made many public statements about his faith.
The poll released Thursday by the Pew Research Center indicated that only 34 percent of people know the president is Christian. A larger number – 43 percent – say they are not certain what religion Obama practices.
The survey found that those who believe the President is a Muslim overwhelmingly disapprove of his job performance.
Mr. Obama's faith has long been the subject of Internet rumors. During his run for president, his detractors occasionally questioned the significance of his middle name "Hussein".
The new poll was conducted before the president came out to support the rights of developers to build a Muslim cultural center in New York near the site of the September 11 attacks.
Mr. Obama's opinion on the subject angered opponents of the cultural center who say it is offensive to build a Muslim site that includes a mosque so close to the scene of an attack by Islamist extremists.
The Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan organization that gathers information about issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world.
The Pew group conducts public opinion polling and social science research by analyzing news coverage and by holding forums and briefings.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP.