obama.jpgHOUSTON – 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.