Can Obama remain “churchless?”
HOUSTON – Barack Obama is a man without a church.
The Illinois Senator and likely Democratic Party nominee for the November presidential election against Republican John McCain said on Saturday he had quit his Chicago church in the aftermath of inflammatory sermons that could become a political lightning rod.
Obama, who would be the first black U.S. president, cut ties last month with the former pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ, Jeremiah Wright, who angered many with anti-American and racially charged sermons.
Just as controversy over Wright had died down, a Roman Catholic priest mocked Obama’s Democratic rival Hillary Clinton during a guest appearance at Trinity United in ways sure to cause offense to some.
Obama said he and his family will find a new church although they will likely not settle on one until early next year — after the election.
But can Obama remain “churchless” that long?
The faith factor is always a big one in elections in America, where levels of regular church attendance and belief are much higher and weigh more heavily with many voters than those found in most affluent nations.
If Obama tries to settle on a church before November it could be subjected to the same level of media scrutiny that will be focused on his vice-presidential choice should he secure the nomination, which looks increasingly likely.
That could also bring unwelcome media intrusion into a house of worship.
But while Obama professes a deep Christian faith, his “churchless” status may still stand out as a political liability — though staying with United was obviously a bigger one.