August 18th, 2008
12:03 PM ET
14 years ago

Analysis: Is McCain finding his way on faith?

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="McCain talks about his military service more than his faith."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - On a rainy evening last December in the upstate South Carolina town of Greer, as his once-languishing campaign was clawing its way back into contention, John McCain hosted a town hall meeting at a diner called Pete's Drive-In.

He talked about the issues that usually stir his passions - a commitment to service, winning the war in Iraq, fighting pork-barrel spending - before taking questions from a small audience of Republican primary voters.

As the event neared its conclusion, a man in the back of the restaurant raised his hand and broached a topic not often heard at the VFW and American Legion halls where McCain preferred to campaign.

"I was wondering if you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and savior?" the voter asked.

McCain, positioned before a large American flag, paused and lowered his head.

"I am a man of faith," he responded. "I have deep religious beliefs and values. I had experiences in my life where I had to rely on God not to get me through another day or another hour, but another minute."

Related: Can McCain win over social conservatives?

The questioner, not satisfied, pressed the candidate again on whether he had let Christ into his life.

"I also believe that talking too much about one's faith and religion, in my view, is something between me and God," McCain said. The crowd clapped.

Eight months later, the GOP nominee-in-waiting sat onstage with mega-pastor Rick Warren at his Saddleback Church in California, earning cheers for telling an audience of evangelicals that he was "saved and forgiven."

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Filed under: John McCain
soundoff (209 Responses)
  1. Marv...

    Did McCain actually say he accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior? He said he was saved and forgiven which means what to him? McCain could have said I like peanut butter sandwiches and the crowed would have cheered. They listen to Obama because there was actual substance to what he was saying. McCain told them what they wanted to hear in a Ross Perrot sound bite sort of way. Maybe I’m just not as bright as the rest of the world, but McCain didn’t bring anything to that forum. I also believe he knew the questions before he set foot on stage. Especially when the question over the Supreme Court Justices was asked. I would ask any intelligent, information seeking and reasonable voter to go back and listen to that particular question and answer.

    August 18, 2008 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  2. Caryn, Washington DC

    McCain was not in the Cone of Silence...McCain is a cheater.

    August 18, 2008 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  3. well well now

    maurice August 18th, 2008 12:13 pm ET

    Obama says "Bush is McCain`s president"! Who exactly is his president?
    just because Bush is THE president that does not make him MY president...see the difference?

    August 18, 2008 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  4. RFP

    for the love of Pete, if you've accepted Jesus, you're going to say so. Jesus said that if you confess me before men I'll confess you before the Father. If you deny me before men, I'll deny you before the Father. McCain better watch out.

    August 18, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  5. Thomas Jefferson

    Leave religion out of politics. It hasn't worked in the past, and it won't work now and in the future. Bad things happen when you mix the two, and our founding fathers KNEW THAT. Building a wall between the church and the state is healthy.

    And for the record, this isn't a christian nation. Never was, and never will be. Read your history and not your fable book.

    "most atheists became that way from reading the bible...."

    August 18, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  6. well well now

    McCain=cheater and lier....a lot like Bush

    August 18, 2008 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  7. Ex-Repub Baptist for Obama / Biden

    No Way I would vote for McShame who has such a sordid personal and political history.

    My Lord would strike me dead on the spot.

    August 18, 2008 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  8. Bean

    McCain knew the answers ahead of time... He cheated. That's just how pitiful of a candidate he is.

    August 18, 2008 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  9. Truth

    It isn't very holy to cheat at a forum in a church.

    August 18, 2008 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  10. Ex-Repub Baptist for Obama / Biden

    McShameless belongs to the netherworld.

    August 18, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  11. Mary - Dallas

    Sponge Bob – Square Pants, I agree totally.

    McCain believes life begins with conception. But he can thrown a human being away. That's what he did with Carol. Please google:
    carol mcain bad car wreck. Everyone said John Edwards should have told the truth. Read about McCain and tell him the same thing.

    How can anyone want Mccain for President.

    August 18, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  12. NMB

    McCain was more comfortable talking about war than faith.

    I wasn't swayed by his misting up when he talked about his 1st marriage being his biggest failure. He's taking plays from Penn's playbook so I guess he figured it worked for Senator Clinton..

    I nearly fell off the sofa when he vowed to drill for oil in a church!

    LOL What an old fool!

    August 18, 2008 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  13. proud army and navy mom


    You forgot mcsenile, mcattack, mcmoron to name a few.

    If Mccain is saved then he should stand against the out and out lies that the repugs are throwing at Sen Obama.

    A true christian would not say I have no comment when that slimy book was published and distributed about Sen Obama. I think that mcbush should be honest with himself

    August 18, 2008 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  14. Heather in SoCal

    Obama hit one out of the park regarding his answer on what constitutes rich: someone who's sold 25 million books. Churches have lost tax-exempt status just for sermons. Everyone in CA knows that the region behind the Orange Curtain is heavily GOP. This was a campaign stunt for McCain, and that's why I refused to watch. Rick Warren and Saddleback Church should lose their tax-exempt status IMMEDIATELY.

    August 18, 2008 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  15. Mike Dallas

    Now that Rick Warren a supposed minister has revealed that he flat out lied about McCrypt being in a "cone of silence", during the forum Saturday night and was indeed leaving his hotel and in the motorcade to the forum. If McCrypt is finding his way, it is because he was spoon fed the early questions prior to his stage appearance.

    Only McCrypt, who is locked in the 1950's would say he was in a cone of silence, because he was not near a TV! While I agree he is too stupid to figure out that the phone Cindy bought him will stream video from the internet and CNN, but surely at least the Secret Service agents are update enough to show him, and if not them, then the chauffeur.

    August 18, 2008 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  16. MikeH

    Apparently MCCain was able to listen in on Obama and Warrens question and answer session. That would explain McCain's answering questions before they were completely asked. NBC and the New York Times have broken the story, while CNN tries to bury it.

    So much fo John's faith and CNN's objectivity..

    Dishonest Jonh McCain, taught well by dear old mom (I'm not suing Carol) McCain. Only John's infirm mind gave the deception away.

    CNN why are you shelving my posts ("..awaiting moderation")? Am I pointing out your complicity too much?

    August 18, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  17. Eric

    It is also quite easy to find your way on faith when you get the questions in advance. Don't expect the medias to cover the scandal at Warren's forum, they will cover this one like all the other grave mistakes McCain made.

    On an other note, I know most of you can not remember a President who thinks before he speaks. When you complain about Obama stuttering or mumbling, it is because the guy uses what is commonly called a brain. Any sound response necessitates time. It allows the person to avoid saying bomb bomb Iran, talking about a Pakistan-Iraq border, ressucitates a dead country, mixing up Shia and Sunni and so on.

    August 18, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  18. Phantom of the Oprah

    I have been a democrat since long before I cast my first democratic ballot (1972 in the year of the first 18 y/o vote) at age 18.

    I am now 54 years old and have been politically active and a true blue democrat all these years.

    NEVER have I seen a more repugnant and despicable UNdemocratic group of supporters- of either party- as the Cult of nasty worshippers that Obama has inspired to support him and secure his nomination.

    Makes me ashamed to be a democrat. The very ideals we stand for have been betrayed by race-card playing, name-calling, insults and denigration of other democrats and of HRC.

    That is fact. That will be a big factor in this election.

    August 18, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  19. BK

    Its a pity and a shame that he changed his answer only for political gain. Meaningless.

    August 18, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  20. kr

    NO. Unless you are taking about faith in lying, cheating and playing shameful polictics. He obviously cheated on the Rick Warrens Forum. He answered questions before they were asked !! He was not in "the cone of silence" and had his answers were prepared ahead of time and Rick Warrens knew and let him say whatever he wanted. Not even answering the questions and telling stories stolen from someone elses book (the cross in the sand from the book the Gulag.). His ads ahve been silly, offensive and untrue.

    OBAMA 08

    August 18, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  21. Rose

    A truly spiritual man does not use deceit and dishonesty as blatantly as McCain did during the Saddleback Forum. Also the POW story was taken from the Gulag Archepelago (Soltzhenitzn). More lies.

    Both McCain and Rick Warren should be ashamed.

    August 18, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  22. Crush Rush

    Rush told me John is a great christian just like him.

    August 18, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  23. Independent in DC

    Politics + Religion = A failure of epic proportions

    August 18, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  24. ConsiderThis, FL

    Rick Warren should be ashamed of himself. He lied about the forum being fair and unbaised. It was obvious that McCain had been privy to the questions before hand and that he had time to craft answers, especially about his faith, that have no truth in them. I should have known that the forum was rigged against Obama. It was sickening.

    August 18, 2008 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  25. Deb, Allentown, PA

    McCain was absolutely insincere on Saturday night. In addition, knowing answers to questions before they were even asked made it crystal clear that he cheated. Then, as a third strike, the "cross in the sand" story seems to have been lifted straight from the writings of Solzhenitsyn. Shame on McCain.

    However, it wouldn't surprise me to see the Republicans cheat their way into the White House yet again. They've done it the last two elections.

    Anybody but McCain '08

    August 18, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
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