Back in early February, the Okie Gardener raised the issue of Barack Obama's church (read the original post here).

FYI: That February post continues to be one of our most popular "Google" hits.

Since that post, much has been written about the candidate and his church and his pastor. Today, the New York Times weighs in with what strikes me as a relatively thorough and fair discussion of Obama and his spiritual journey. I will be interested to see if the Gardener has any additional thoughts on the matter.

I am pasting an abridged version of the introductory graphs below, followed by the link to the story in full, but, first, this comment:

As a dedicated parishioner of a sincere and loving church that is not always in accord with my political views, I am not eager to hold a congregant responsible for everything his pastor says in the pulpit or in other public spaces.

Having said that, I am interested in Obama's religious views and his spiritual biography.

Excerpts from the Times article by Jodi Kantor:

Twenty years ago at Trinity, Mr. Obama, then a community organizer in poor Chicago neighborhoods, found the African-American community he had sought all his life, along with professional credibility as a community organizer and an education in how to inspire followers. He had sampled various faiths but adopted none until he met [Rev. Jeremiah A.] Wright Jr., a dynamic pastor who preached Afrocentric theology, dabbled in radical politics and delivered music-and-profanity-spiked sermons.

"Evidently, the pressures of Mr. Obama’s presidential run are placing a strain on the relationship between the star congregant and the man who led him from skeptic to self-described Christian."

Mr. Wright’s assertions of widespread white racism and his scorching remarks about American government have drawn criticism, and prompted the senator to cancel his delivery of the invocation when he formally announced his candidacy in February.

Mr. Obama, a Democratic presidential candidate who says he was only shielding his pastor from the spotlight, said he respected Mr. Wright’s work for the poor and his fight against injustice. But “we don’t agree on everything,” Mr. Obama said. “I’ve never had a thorough conversation with him about all aspects of politics.”

It is hard to imagine, though, how Mr. Obama can truly distance himself from Mr. Wright. The Christianity that Mr. Obama adopted at Trinity has infused not only his life, but also his campaign. He began his presidential announcement with the phrase “Giving all praise and honor to God,” a salutation common in the black church. He titled his second book, “The Audacity of Hope,” after one of Mr. Wright’s sermons, and often talks about biblical underdogs, the mutual interests of religious and secular America, and the centrality of faith in public life.

The full article here.