Maybe the economy is a political black hole, sucking every other issue into an impossibly dense void.

Maybe Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are just private, cautious men by nature.

For whatever reason, neither President Obama nor his Republican challenger is talking much about religion these days — neither about his own faith nor that of his opponent, or the social issues that motivate religious voters.

It is a striking departure from the faith-based overtures heard in this year’s Republican primary and in some past presidential campaigns, and it serves to mask a central aspect of each man’s life story, in which faith plays an important role. But analysts on both sides of the political spectrum say religion is perceived as a no-win subject by both campaigns, and it is not likely to play a prominent role in the 2012 election.

“Put it this way,” said Republican pollster Whitfield Ayres. “There is more downside than upside right now for either candidate to spend a lot of time talking openly about their faith.”

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