As the historic 2008 presidential primary season came to an end, the presumptive Republican and Democratic nominees faced similar dilemmas. Both Republican Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) and Democratic Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) decided to sever ties with controversial religious figures who had been backing their campaigns.
As the general election campaign got under way, both candidates continued to face questions related to their religious backgrounds. Obama’s decisions to relinquish his membership with Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ and to sever ties with its controversial former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, could influence voters’ opinions of him, especially since he is a relatively new figure in national politics. And McCain’s ability to turn out the conservative religious base of his party could be a deciding factor in how he fares in November. Indeed, religion could be at least as important in the 2008 presidential campaign as it was in 2000 and 2004.
Read the full report Running on Faith on the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life Web site.