Forgive Them for Their Religious Advisers?

For his part, Wright has also come under fire for remarks he made about Clinton.

In one of his sermons, Wright spoke about Clinton, suggesting some voters hate Obama because he "doesn't fit the model -- he ain't white, he ain't rich and he ain't privileged."

Wright said Clinton does fit that mold.

"Hillary never had a cab whiz past her and not pick her up because her skin was the wrong color," Wright said. "Hillary never had to worry about being pulled over in her car as a black man driving in the wrong ... I am sick of Negroes who just do not get it. Hillary was not a black boy raised in a single parent home. Barack was. Barack knows what it means living in a country and a culture that is controlled by rich white people. Hillary can never know that. Hillary ain't never been called a n*****."

Like Surrogates, Religious Advisers' Views Sometimes Impolitic

As with the recent cases of surrogates such as former Obama adviser Samantha Power, who called Clinton "a monster," and former Rep. Geraldine Ferarro of New York who suggested Obama's race was the reason for his success, the views of some religious advisers can be embarrassing to political candidates embroiled in a election.

Clinton hasn't commented on Wright's remark but did demand at an Ohio debate last month that Obama reject and denounce Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan for anti-Semitic comments.

"I would not be associated with people who said such inflammatory and untrue charges against either Israel or Jewish people in our country," Clinton said at the debate.

In the end, Obama did "reject and denounce" the comments.

Going Public With Private Faith

For more than 30 years, presidential candidates have attempted to project an image of religiosity.

In the 1976 campaign, former President Jimmy Carter talked about being a born-again Christian; in 1980, former President Ronald Reagan spoke often of his faith and his notion of America as a "shining city" upon a hill. Former President Bill Clinton touted his faith, and President Bush attracted "values voters" in 2000 and 2004 with references to his personal faith.

In the leadup to the 2008 election, both Clinton and Obama have highlighted their faith.

Clinton has said that she probably could not have gotten through her marital troubles and the Monica Lewinsky scandal without relying on her faith in God.

"I am very grateful that I had a grounding in faith that gave me the courage and the strength to do what I thought was right, regardless of what the world thought," Clinton said last summer in a June forum sponsored by the liberal Sojourners/Call to Renewal evangelical organization.

Unlike Republican candidates who have mobilized religious voters in recent years, Jelen said Democratic candidates have highlighted their faith to battle against the stereotype that they are agnostic or atheist.

After the 2004 elections, Hillary Clinton said it was a mistake to cede "values voters" to the Republicans.

During a speech at Tufts University outside Boston, she called it "a mistake for the Democrats not to engage evangelical Christians on their own turf -- essentially ceding the vote to President Bush."

In 2006, Clinton hired Burns Strider to organize her faith outreach. Strider is an evangelical Christian from Mississippi who previously ran faith outreach for the House Democratic Caucus on Capitol Hill. Obama hired Joshua DuBois as his campaign's national director of religious affairs.

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