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

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


[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/04/11/art.mccain.ap.jpg caption="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. MD in OK

    Be not deceived. McCain is a wolf in sheep's clothing.

    Yeary said of McCain,"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." Well, I would like to know what kind of vocabulary does he have?
    I can't believe some people; they want to talk about God when they know they are not serious. And I know when they are not serious because they will use the most commonly repeated Bible scriptures: Do unto others as you would want them to do to you is probably no. 2. Jesus loves me is no. 1.

    April 24, 2008 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  2. John, A Baptist

    It is interesting that, simultaneous to McCain's attempts to be more attractive to conservatives, he has chosen a church from the Southern Baptist Convention to prospectively join.

    The Southern Baptist Convention makes the false claim that each church is autonomous. Yet, it "disaffiliates" any church that does not strictly adhere to an increasingly theologically conservative doctrine. For example, the SBC is one of the only mainline Protestant denominations that refuses to ordain women for ANY role in ministry – and, in fact, expels local churches who do.

    The SBC use to be quite diverse (yes, Jesse Helms and Bill Clinton were members). However, it has moved so far to the right theologically and socially that it is experiencing a crisis of splitting apart. For example, its traditionally affiliated universities (such as Baylor and Wake Forest) have broken with the church to preserve their academic freedom from the fundamentalist SBC.

    Bottom line – it shocks me the McCain, who claims that he represent tolerance for all Americanas would choose to SELECT a denomination that is known for its lack of tolerance.

    April 24, 2008 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  3. Real Change

    This has got to be the most laughably transparent example of pandering that I have ever seen. LOL

    April 24, 2008 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  4. Natalie

    Mc Cain you are supposed to be a Christian. If you believe in what you say you believe in you will get baptized asap. You are 71 years old. You are not getting any younger...

    'Every one, therefore, who shall confess in me before men, I also will confess in him before my Father who is in the heavens ....Luke 12:8

    The above verse will show you that it is not private thing.....

    April 24, 2008 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  5. Love Huckabee

    This guy looks like a puppet when he talks. His eyes and mouth move at the same time. It's disgusting.

    I'm not for Obama, no more republicans! Go Obama! 🙂

    April 24, 2008 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  6. Love Huckabee

    I'm now for Obama, correction.

    April 24, 2008 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  7. Mrs Mc

    McCain doesn't comment on his faith cause he don't believe in anything.....If you are ashamed of God, then He will be ashamed of you!!

    April 24, 2008 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  8. thefishermen

    Baptism is not required to be a member of a Baptist Church.

    Baptism is in fact, merely an expression of faith that Baptists like to exercise publically upon converting to Christianity, at any age.

    April 24, 2008 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  9. RealityKing

    I wonder what American's would want their neigbors to do if 75% of them were oppressed and murdered by Saddam and his Sunni tribe?

    Run away?? Hmmmmm....

    April 24, 2008 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  10. Jodie

    You are definately a spirtual man. You will be any kind of man if you can just get people to vote for you and be tricked into another 4 years of President Bush's policy of working for the rich. We can not endure another 4 years with John McCain as president. Its time for a change.
    I am a republican christian who is a proud supporter of Barack Obama. I am also a mother who wants my children to live in a world of peace and prosperity.

    Obama '08

    April 24, 2008 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  11. What do YOU know


    April 24, 2008 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  12. shirley

    Our forefathers rejected the notion of mixing religion with politics for good reason. Need proof? Just look at the Middle East. Reporter's are to blame for this, they followed Hillarys lead right into the mud in reporting on gender, race and religion.

    April 24, 2008 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  13. oh really?

    keep it private, please-

    i saw the excorcist, and it scared the bejeebers outta me

    i have no intention of seeing granddad's head spin around 🙁

    and seeing how arizona is a desert, i don't think there's enough water to spare for something like this-

    maybe they could just bless lake michigan, and he can just jump in it

    April 24, 2008 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  14. Pat Huntington NY

    I cannot vote for someone who's still holding original sin...get baptized

    April 24, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  15. Pam

    Wow, talk about pandering. McCain knows he need to do something to court evangelicals, guess this is what he's come up with.

    April 24, 2008 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  16. David

    why the need to be baptized again? was he excommunicated? otherwise I don't see the need unless it's publicity.

    April 24, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  17. Sharon Minnesota

    No disrespect but I just can't resist a little saying that I learned long ago. This is probably not foretelling of McCain's baptism but............

    I hope he doesn't "go down a dry sinner and come up a wet sinner" like some people have done. Again, I can't resist , like what must have happened to J. Wright long, long ago.

    April 24, 2008 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  18. Unshrub

    Now he is thinking about getting baptized. What some people will do to get elected. How phony can someone be? If this isn’t pandering to the conservative right, Hillary wasn’t guilty of it when she told the story about her Dad teaching her how to shoot. Phony, phony, phony.

    April 24, 2008 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  19. God Bless America

    Even THE LORD JESUS was Baptized!!!!!!!!!! McCain you truly are a Wolf in Sheeps Clothing. I'm sorry, correction:
    YOU ARE A HEATHEN!!!!!!!!!!

    April 24, 2008 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  20. Hillarygetoutof therace

    Who cares he is conservative false christian.

    April 24, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
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