Let me get this straight: about one in five Americans think President Obama is a Muslim. And yet the biggest controversy during his presidential campaign was over the perceived influence that his spiritual leader had on him, that leader of course being Rev. Jeremiah Wright of the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago.

So which is it, folks? Are we worried that the president is a Muslim following Islamic law or that he is/was under the spell of a Christian preacher?

I’m not dismissing concerns that Obama seems to be more focused on sending a message of conciliation to the Islamic world these days than offering reassurance to Israel. The wariness among many Jews, here and in Israel, probably won’t dissipate unless and until the president goes to Jerusalem to offer the kind of rhetorical outreach he aimed for in his Cairo Speech last year.

In the meantime, though, we should step back from the unhealthy mix of frustration and paranoia brewing over President Obama’s religion and citizenship (attention “birthers”). Disagree with his policies, but don’t dispute his identity.

It’s tough to demonize someone and then seek his support.