The political-moral spin from online bloggers and television opinion-makers is enough to make citizens dizzy, if not profoundly unsure of where U.S. public opinion is headed. The controversies relating to religious views have put the nonpartisan Pew polls in the spotlight.

Favorable views of Islam have dropped in the U.S. over the past five years from 41 percent to 30 percent, while unfavorable views increased slightly from 36 to 38 percent. Nearly one-third of Americans (32 percent) now answer "don't know," compared to 23 percent in 2005.

That question was part of a poll conducted August 19-22 among 1,000 adults.