On the new polls indicating that a larger percentage of Americans think President Obama is a Muslim:
It is surprising, but on the other hand if you think of the fact that the president has not shown his religiosity in public — now, I respect that. I think it’s perfectly appropriate for anyone, president or not, to be religious in private or in public.
He chooses not to attend a church. And I accept the reason he gave, which is it will be disruptive. Ronald Reagan attended church so rarely in his eight years in the presidency, I think it was less than ten times that he attended a service in public. So it isn’t unusual.
What’s unusual here, of course, is that’s he’s a man of — acknowledged as we saw in the speech in Cairo — acknowledged Muslim heritage, parentage, and with an affinity for Muslim culture. He spent years in Indonesia, and he spent a lot of his presidency in trying to develop outreach with the Muslim world — speeches in Cairo, in Turkey, appearances in Saudi Arabia and all that.
So given the fact you don’t see him coming out of a church with the Bible in hand as you would a Bush or a Clinton, and the fact that he’s had this emphasis on Islam, I can understand how the numbers have widened. …
I can understand why the White House is upset and why it would want to correct the record. I expect you’re going to see him between now and November, and certainly between now and reelection, out there attending a church a little more often than he has up to now. …
I’m not sure the mosque issue today has an effect because one of the polls is before that, one of the polls is after. But I think it is right to say that the emphasis he placed on the Muslim outreach and the fact that he speaks openly of his past, might incline people who otherwise are not that clued in to conclude that he may not be a Christian.
If I had to choose, I’d rather live in a country where your religion is your business, where your morality is your business, and where people have a right of privacy and kind of a sphere of [privacy]. I understand that it’s not realistic in [this] country, but look at the way Romney was treated in his campaign two years ago where his religion was a big issue — I thought in a way that was extremely unfair. And I think it’s regrettable.