The media Muslim Mormon problem

Aaron Blake of the Washington Post is aghast.  ???President Obama???s ???religion??? may be just as much of a liability as Mitt Romney???s (actual) Mormon religion,??? according to a new poll from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

The poll in question shows more people are concerned about Obama???s religion that Romney???s, by 19 percent to 13 percent.  This is most vexing to the media, because they have been trying very hard to get people concerned about Romney???s religion.

But according to the Post article, the only reason for this soaring 19 percent concern about Obama???s religion is ???the unbelievable number of Americans, now numbering 17 percent, who for some reason think the president is a Muslim.???

However remarkable that number might be – and assuming the accuracy of these poll results – does it really constitute the only, or even the primary, reason people might be concerned about Obama???s religion?  You don???t suppose a lot of them could be contemplating Reverend Jeremiah Wright???s Church of Racial Hatred when they think about Obama???s religion, do you?  Or maybe the President???s habit of breaking into sermons about Christ the Tax Collector?

???So while there has been a lot of consternation about whether Americans will be hesitant to vote for a Mormon like Romney,??? sighs Blake, ???misinformation about Obama???s religion may matter just as much come November.???

Actually, there hasn???t been ???a lot of consternation??? about Romney???s religion.  There have been a lot of nasty little media stealth bombings written in the guise of consternation about whether red-state evangelicals will be willing to vote for a Mormon, but precious little evidence that it makes a big difference to any actual voters.

The Washington Post???s previous adventure in concern trolling was a long piece about the Mountain Meadows Massacre, an 1857 incident in which a wagon train from Arkansas was attacked by a Mormon militia.  The piece was perfectly self-refuting, as the sixth paragraph reads: ???And yet, there is scant evidence that Romney???s religion is making much difference in how voters here are thinking about the presidential election and whether they are willing to back the former Massachusetts governor.???

But it rambled on for a few thousand more words anyway, worrying about how there ???aren???t many places in America more likely to be suspicious of Mormonism ??? and potentially more problematic for Mitt Romney,??? with all the sincerity of the title card at the end of a 1930s cliffhanger serial installment.  Will brave Mitt of the Mounties be able to escape from the burning train before it plunges from the broken bridge ahead?  Find out in our next thrilling chapter!

The most interesting observation offered about the new Pew poll is that ???65 percent of people who say Obama is a Muslim are uncomfortable with him because of it, compared to just 12 percent of those who correctly say he???s a Christian.???  So does that mean 35 percent of the people who think Obama is a Muslim are not uncomfortable with him because of it?

That sounds like the most intriguing factoid to tumble out of this poll, which otherwise says that a small number of people care about the religions of the two candidates, and essentially cancel each other out.  But since an opportunity is provided to castigate the people who think Obama is a Muslim – while reminding readers once again that Romney is a Mormon and Mormonism is kind of odd and you evangelical types really ought to be having more trouble digesting that – it???s all good.