WASHINGTON – President-elect Barack Obama, who last year quit his church over inflammatory remarks by its former pastor, said he finds life without a spiritual community "difficult," and said he and wife Michelle plan to step up their search for a place of worship.
Asked in an interview aired by ABC's "This Week" whether he missed being without a worship community over the past year, Obama was unequivocal.
"I do, and it's been a difficult time," he said.
"I've got a wonderful community of people who are praying for me every day, and they call me up," he said, "but it's not the same" as attending Sunday church services, he said.
Obama said that he had "not yet" decided upon a church in Washington, but that he and the first-lady-to-be were preparing to start their search in earnest.
"One of the things that Michelle and I will be doing is probably visiting some churches and seeing what's comfortable," he said.
Obama separated from his church last year, following a furor that erupted when videos of old sermons were unearthed in which his former longtime pastor and spiritual mentor Jeremiah Wright denounced the US government.
In the tapes, among other charges, Wright claimed AIDS was a racist government plot and said blacks should sing "God Damn America" to protest slavery and mistreatment by whites.
Obama initially refused to reject the pastor, who for years had the led Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. The then-presidential contender responded to the controversy, which posed a potentially serious threat to his White House bid, by giving a major speech on race relations in America.
After Wright made more controversial comments, Obama broke from the church and condemned the pastor, who had presided over his wedding ceremony and baptized his two daughters.
Obama, in the interview taped Saturday, acknowledged that the choice of a new church home will be guided in part by his desire not to subject fellow worshippers to the constant security checks and other inconveniences attendant with the US presidency.
"This is not just an issue of going to church, it's an issue of going anywhere," he said.
"You don't want to subject your fellow church members, the rest of the congregation, to being nagged every time you go to church," he said.
"We're going to try to be balancing, not being disruptive to the city, but also saying we want to be part of Washington, DC."
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