McCain Avoids Religion in Politics

(The original video is no longer available, with the original clip present at the end of the longer segment posted above.)

For a moment I almost thought we had a winner for the Arnold Vinick Award. The above video clip from The West Wing shows a fictitious Republican candidate refuse to mix religion in politics.  While I give Barack Obama credit for his many statements in support of separation of church and state, he is certainly no Arnold Vinick on religion. Hillary Clinton is the most theocratic of the three remaining major party candidates, with her conservative religious associations often influencing her policy decisions.  With John McCain the Republicans might actually be the party whose campaign includes the least talk of religion. The Politico  discussed this issue:

Traversing the country this week on a tour of places that have shaped his life and informed his values, John McCain spoke in strikingly personal language to introduce himself to the American public.

But missing so far is any significant mention of religious faith.

In an Oprah Winfrey era in which soul-baring and expressions of faith are the norm for public figures, the presumptive Republican nominee, open and candid about much else, retains a shroud of privacy around his Christianity.

Raised Episcopalian, McCain now attends a Baptist megachurch in Phoenix. But he has not been baptized and rarely talks of his faith in anything but the broadest terms or as it relates to how it enabled him to survive 5½ years in captivity as a POW.

In this way, McCain, 71, is a throwback to an earlier generation, when such personal matters were kept personal. To talk of Jesus Christ in the comfortable, matter-of-fact fashion of the past two baby-boom-era presidents would be unthinkable.

In commenting on this, The New Republic contrasts McCain with Clinton noting, “Hillary once carried a Bible everywhere with her, ‘marking in it and underlining as she read,’ according to Carl Bernstein.” 

McCain gets a point for speaking less of religion while campaigning than the Democratic candidates. He also had an aide recently call the religious right a serious problem. The question remains whether McCain would respect separation of church and state should he take office. His record on abortion rights is poor and he has also erroneously claimed that the United States was founded as a Christian nation. I’m afraid that, despite keeping talk of religion off the campaign stump. John McCain is no Arnie Vinick.

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1 Comment

  1. 1
    janet says:

    McCain was raised as an Episcopalian, went to an Episcopal high school but just as he entered this presidential race in late 2007 decided to call himself a Baptist and says his church is a Southern Baptist mega church in Phoenix.

    As an Episcopalian myself, I find this–interesting to say the least. Southern Baptists think Episcopalians are unsaved and going to hell. This is not like switching from Lutheran to Methodist. These two denominations could not be more different. Yea, ok–so his religion is personal but this smells of insincerity.

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