August 14, 2008
McCain's POW church riot
Sen. John McCain was once dubbed a "Hell's Angel" when he and other prisoners of war rioted against their captors in order to hold a church service during the Vietnam War, the Chicago Tribune reports.
The Vietnamese told the prisoners they could not hold a church service, and once they began singing songs, the captors marched about 20 of the prisoners out of the room at gunpoint. The Vietnamese then moved them to a camp where conditions were unsanitary.
Just before his upcoming appearance at Saddleback Church this Saturday, McCain, who is usually quiet about his faith, opened up even more about his POW experience to reporter Jill Zuckman.
Every Sunday, the highest-ranking officer would cough loudly and say the letter 'c' for church, Zuckman writes. The prisoners would then say the Pledge of Allegiance, the Lord's Prayer and the 23rd Psalm. They used diarrhea pills mixed with cigarette ash - or charcoal or dirt - to write lines of Scripture and share them, Zuckman reports.
"We wanted to actually just have a chance to do what we felt was a fundamental human right ... and we got spiritual comfort from being able to worship together," McCain said.
McCain's fellow prisoners eventually made him informal chaplain. Zuckman writes:
His first lesson - he doesn't like to call them sermons - recounted the biblical story of the man who asked Jesus whether he should pay taxes. Jesus replied, "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's, and render unto God what is God's."
McCain's point was that the prisoners should not pray for freedom, nor for harm to come to their captors.
"What I was trying to tell my fellow prisoners is that we were doing Caesar's work when we got into prison, so we should ask for God's help to do the right thing and for us to get out of prison if it be God's will for us to do so," McCain said. "Not everybody agreed with that."
McCain also organized a Christmas service where he copied sections of Matthew, Mark and John describing the birth of Christ so he could read them aloud while other POWs sang Christmas carols.
"In our case, faith is private," said his wife, Cindy, adding that once voters get to know him, "they will know he is a man of faith."
Pastor of Saddleback Rick Warren compared McCain to Jerry Ford in an interview on Thursday with David Brody of CBN.
John's faith is more like the faith of say a Jerry Ford. Jerry Ford was a born again believer. He just didn't believe in talking about. In fact when you go back over the last seven or eight Presidents -- you go through Jerry Ford, Jimmy Carter, George Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. What do these men have in common? Nothing. They're all opposite except every one of the men claimed to be born again. Some of them talked about it more than the others, but some of them didn't which shows that a person could have a born again faith and be way on the difference in politics.