April 24th, 2008
06:01 AM ET
10 years ago

McCain on baptism plans: 'It's a private thing.'

For the most part, McCain keeps a veil of privacy around his faith.

For the most part, McCain keeps a veil of privacy around his faith.

ABOARD THE STRAIGHT TALK EXPRESS (CNN) - John McCain, who rarely talks about his faith publicly, discussed some of his religious beliefs with reporters Wednesday – including the question of whether he might consider being baptized again.

The presumptive Republican nominee talked with journalists traveling with him from Kentucky to West Virginia about his home congregation, North Phoenix Baptist Church.

"Pastor Dan Yeary has a message I enjoy and appreciate," he said, adding that he and his family have "grown close to [Yeary] over the years" and that he tried to attend services at the church whenever he was home in Arizona.

"The message that Dan Yeary conveys of Christian love and redemption is one that I welcome," said McCain. "And I'm always spiritually helped and assisted when I attend those church services, as I think most Americans are when they attend church services."

The Arizona senator, who was raised an Episcopalian, has attended North Phoenix for nearly two decades, but is not a member because he has not been baptized into the church.

On Wednesday, he told reporters that he had been baptized in Panama, where he was born, and talked about a photo in his memoirs of himself as a baby in a baptismal gown, with his father and grandfather.

"It's like a dress," he chuckled.

But he was more guarded about his current plans with regard to baptism, calling them "a private thing."

"I've been in discussions with Pastor Yeary, and we'll continue those discussions," he said. "It's a personal thing, it's a very personal thing concerning my faith and I am proud of my faith, I am proud of my belief and the sustenance and the redemption that I have received.

"And my faith was tested in extraordinary fashion and it was my faith that got me through not the next day, or the next hour but the next minute."

In an interview with Baptist Press last month, Yeary said that McCain was less open about his faith because he was "a historical Episcopalian, and if you and I sat down with him and started talking Baptist talk, he just doesn't have that kind of vocabulary."

But he also told BP that McCain "has a strong faith and he is committed to Christ. I don't have any doubt about it."

On Wednesday, McCain cited the "the importance of Judeo-Christian values of 'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.'"

"There's enormous implications of that simple phrase," he added, calling it "one of the fundamental principles of leadership."

Filed under: John McCain
soundoff (70 Responses)
  1. Paul

    Wow a Republican who isn't a religios fruitcake? This is the first I've seen in a long time.

    April 24, 2008 07:31 am at 7:31 am |
  2. david

    If one is a Christian, one only has to be baptized once. It is not necessary to be baptized in each church or denomination of Christianity.

    April 24, 2008 07:38 am at 7:38 am |
  3. Grif

    A Man's gota do, what a Man's gota do.

    April 24, 2008 07:39 am at 7:39 am |
  4. tom, Boston

    My "Bomb Bomb Bomb Iran" War Hero being Baptised at 75?????

    He's afraid of Hell, now that it 's coming around the corner?

    oh what a sissy, what a woss, what a disappointment.

    April 24, 2008 07:45 am at 7:45 am |
  5. Lee

    As are his health records, Cindy's taxes, his religion....wait till he gets in the While House, he will make Cheney look like an open book. But then the media loves him, we dare not ask any questions, after all....he is 'my friend'. Yeah, right (wing that is).

    April 24, 2008 07:47 am at 7:47 am |
  6. Key West Sun

    Well I guess this is just a story to let everyone know that McCain goes to a good ole american church and that he has Judeo-Christian values. I guess this will now enable them to smash Obama over the head with his wacko church and beliefs. By the time this is over not one decent american christian will trust Obama. If Obama doesn't get this issue behind him now, he is going down hard. He need to quit hiding behind twisted words and come clean before the swift boat crew cleans his clock. Trouble is, I don't know how he is going to be able to sell Rev Wright and this BLT to the american public.

    April 24, 2008 07:50 am at 7:50 am |
  7. McCain and his church

    Who cares? not me.

    April 24, 2008 07:50 am at 7:50 am |
  8. Mike Beck Olathe, Ks.

    I thot baptism was showing all faiths that you believe in Jesus Christ and take him as your saviour and repent of your sins I have never read anything in the Bible that said you had to be Baptised into a CHURCH!!!

    April 24, 2008 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  9. DelphinePr0BAMA

    There's one thing i don't get...why on age 71 does someone not retire and chooses to play with his grandchildren??? John...give yourself a break (and Obama a chance if you DARE) before it's too late!!! 🙂

    April 24, 2008 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  10. Mary - PA

    I respect Sen. McCain's privacy in regards to his religion and I don't see how whether he gets baptised again as a baptist has anything to do with his presidential bid. Please CNN, find something more important to report on rather then this silly fluff stuff.

    April 24, 2008 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  11. Wayne, Greenville TX

    Someone should scrutinize Pastor Dan Yeary's sermons like they did Rev. Wright's. Let's get to the truth about Gramps McCain's spiritual advisor....

    April 24, 2008 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  12. Jeff, Boston MA

    Reporters are constantly trying to catch people mixing politics with religion. Always lookng for an opportunity to play gotcha!

    Then they start prying into peoples religions beliefs, in effect trying to make them combine the two.

    They do not mix, should not mix, and don't try to create an issue.

    I am becoming more comfortable with the idea of McCain.

    I am beginning to hate the democratic party. No one has any guts. If Hillary was a man, people would have told her to take a hike weeks ago. Instead we have to deal with her beating down Obama, all the while, increasingher negatives.

    Dean, get some guts, tell her "it's over".

    I will never vote for her.

    April 24, 2008 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  13. Bridgette

    Why is it that Obama's faith can be examined and re-examined and he can choose to keep his private. I think he should be able to keep it private. Just like I think it should be the same for everyone and know one should be held responsible for things their pastor says or does. Just a thought.

    April 24, 2008 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  14. Mrs. America

    I hope he doesn't get baptized just to satisfy voters. He was a POW for over five years, and that tells me that his faith, whatever and however it is or was, has served him well. People should just butt out when it comes to faith and accept what the cadidates say at face value. Can't any aspect of a public official's life be private and personal anymore? The way these candidates are analyzed about their faith is sinfully pathetic.

    April 24, 2008 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  15. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Despite the great amount of rational thinkers and scientist, there is still no way that the country would elect anyone who doesn't believe in G-d in some way. I think what ever religion someone is should have no bearing on what kind of job that person might do as president.

    I do have to correct McCain on one thing. There are no Judeo-Christian values. There are values that Judaism has and values that Christianity has. Some of the values over lap, but there are enough differences that they should not be lumped together.

    April 24, 2008 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  16. Uncle Sam

    It is true that one rarely hears John McCain talk about his faith. He simply lives it.

    Americans for McCain '08

    April 24, 2008 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  17. DavePM

    Who cares?

    April 24, 2008 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  18. Ardnuas

    In PUBLIC McCain is soft spoken and a war hero.....JUDGE him by what the people behind the scenes are saying. He will NOT talk about his FAITH....means there is a serious problem somewhere in is thinking. Remember the phase.... a wolf in sheeps clothing!!!!!!!

    April 24, 2008 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  19. Mike - Texas

    I wonder if McCain's pastor has had any anti- American, hate filled speeches like OBamma's pastor Wright?

    April 24, 2008 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  20. Bendo

    interesting...he runs for POTUS and suddenly he gets religion...sounds like w some yrs ago saying he was "born again" to get the right wing whack relgious vote...so transparent!

    April 24, 2008 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  21. TheLeftNut

    A ploy. Shameful.

    April 24, 2008 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  22. corey, NH

    I don't even support McCain and I think that the issue of him being pushed to be baptized is totally ridiculous. Religious freedom!

    April 24, 2008 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  23. gk

    Sheesh, no one ever has to defend their pastor, beliefs, faith and religion. It is sickening that folks like Sen McCaina nd SenObama have to defend and justify their pastors, beliefs and faith so openly, when it is clearly their own personal journey. What kind of "free" country is this?

    April 24, 2008 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  24. Vince

    Would he be considering getting Baptized again if he weren't running for office?

    April 24, 2008 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  25. Walt

    I think the best way to Baptize old man McBush would be along the lines of waterboarding! The republicans seem to really like to waterboard others. I would volunteer to do the Baptizing! Signed; Vietnam Veteran Against John McCain.

    April 24, 2008 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
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