The 2012 campaign has placed evangelicals in a paradox. A recent PRRI/RNS poll reveals that white evangelicals support a Mormon presidential candidate over Obama by an overwhelming 49% margin, but are simultaneously the religious group most likely to say it is important for a presidential candidate to share their religious beliefs (67%).
While there are plenty of legitimate policy reasons that evangelicals might support Governor Romney, their willingness to overlook their desire for a coreligionist candidate may also have at least something to do with the fact that 24% of them—higher than any other religious group—believe Obama is a Muslim, and even more are unaware (or unconvinced?) he's a Protestant. What if more evangelicals knew Obama largely shares their religious beliefs?
That the true religious identity of the world's most famous, most powerful man could remain a mystery to so many is itself a mystery. Before and especially during his presidency, Obama has been extraordinarily open on matters of faith, providing ample evidence for his repeated claim to be a devout Christian. The evidence may even suggest Obama is our evangelical-in-chief.
In his excellent religious biography of the President, The Faith of Barack Obama, author Stephen Mansfield spends several pages exploring whether Obama has been "born again." Mansfield's interviews with the President's spiritual advisors suggest so.
"I know he's born again," said Joshua DuBois, head of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, in an interview with Mansfield. A pastor's kid who served briefly in a Pentecostal pastorate himself, DuBois has queried the President about his faith and found that he "believes what the majority of Christians ...1