Religion is supposed to be Barack Obama's strength.

Unlike many Democratic candidates before him, Obama speaks with ease about his faith. He attends Sunday worship and knows his Bible. His supporters believe he can pry some committed churchgoers away from the GOP.

But the furor over comments by his Chicago pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, broadcast again and again on TV and viewed by millions on YouTube, is tempering those hopes.

"It certainly gives people pause," even in the Democratic Party, said Corwin Smidt, a Calvin College professor who studies religion and politics.

All the top Democratic presidential contenders spoke of their faith this election year. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, a Methodist and Obama's remaining Democratic rival, has spent years reaching out to traditional Christians. But more than any other candidate, Obama has made religion a core part of his message and outreach.
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