More than 70 pastors and other religious leaders affirmed President Obama's Christianity on Friday in a letter written to oppose "those who continue to insinuate that the President is Muslim, not a Christian."
The letter urged religious leaders, public officials and the media to refuse to give attention to those who distort Obama's faith, calling the president "unwavering" in his commitment to Christianity.
The statement comes on the heels of a poll last week showing that 18 percent of Americans believe Obama is a Muslim, up from 11 percent in March 2009.
The number that say Obama is a Christian, meanwhile, has sharply decreased — from 48 percent to 34 percent — within the last year.
Another poll out Friday shows that Protestant Christians' approval of Obama's job performance has steadily declined since 2009, and that they now approve the least, at 43 percent, of any religious group except Mormons.
The letters' signers, who represent more than seven Protestant denominations and numerous other groups, wrote that — contrary to rumors about Obama's faith — many of them had "prayed and worshipped with this President." They also stressed that as a group, they all come from "different political and ideological backgrounds."
"We understand that these are contentious times, but the personal faith of our leaders should not be up for debate," the letter reads. "We believe that fellow Christians need to be an encouragement … not question the veracity of [others'] faith."