All posts from “John McCain”

November 4, 2008

McCain Concedes

His supporters booed as John McCain conceded the election to Barack Obama.

"Sen. Obama has achieved a great thing for himself and his country," he said.

"The failure is mine, not yours," he told his supporters, many of whom booed.

His supporters cheered for Sarah Palin, who McCain called her "one of the best campaigners I have ever seen and an impressive new voice in our party."

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November 4, 2008

Liberal Evangelicals for McCain

A bit late to make much of a difference in people's voting, but Anne Morse of Prison Fellowship (most CT readers will recognize her as the coauthor of Charles Colson's columns) offers reasons why evangelicals concerned about social justice should be rooting for McCain tonight, not Obama. It's not quite clear why she thinks only "liberal evangelicals" care about social justice (I know a lot of very conservative evangelicals who care about poverty and AIDS), but here's her argument:

Liberal evangelicals who think McCain is against social justice need to look at his website more thoroughly and consider that certain topics they might have ignored are actually very relevant to social justice. For instance, he's in favor of funding scholarships, charter schools, and tutoring for poor students stuck in bad public schools.

Social justice, anyone? ...

To put it another way: John McCain is fighting global poverty and has a strong record of promoting justice on an international scale.

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November 3, 2008

Poll: McCain Getting 78% of Evangelicals

A new poll shows that John McCain could receive as many votes from evangelicals as President Bush did in 2004, which many cited as one of the tipping points for Bush's re-election.

A new MSNBC/Wall Street Journal poll shows that McCain has the lead among evangelicals 78 percent to 19 percent. The most recent Pew Research Center survey, however, shows that McCain is getting 68 percent, the same number Bush received in 2000.

Update: Quinnipiac University released new numbers on three swing states where McCain loses slightly in Florida and Ohio but gains in Pennsylvania from a week ago.
Florida: 71-23
Ohio: 59-34
Pennsylvania: 67-27

October 31, 2008

McCain to Appear on SNL

John McCain could be risking embarrassment or he's betting on a boost from the polls when he appears on Saturday Night Live, The New York Times reports.

Sarah Palin also performed a few weeks ago.

Update: Here are the clips.

And

October 28, 2008

McCain says Stevens should resign

John McCain called for Sen. Ted Stevens to step down today after the Alaska politician was convicted yesterday on seven felony counts.

Stevens was convicted on charges that he lied about gifts from an oil contractor, but he refused to drop out of his re-election race.

"It is clear that Sen. Stevens has broken his trust with the people and that he should now step down," McCain said in a statement this morning. "I hope that my colleagues in the Senate will be spurred by these events to redouble their efforts to end this kind of corruption once and for all."

Update: McCain's running mate Sarah Palin also called for Stevens' resignation.

October 27, 2008

The candidates' web pages for people of faith

The McCain-Palin campaign added an "Americans of Faith" page to its website, about 16 months behind Obama-Biden's People of Faith blog.

Beliefnet's Dan Gilgoff notes that the page is added months after rolling out pages for "American Indians for McCain and "Arab Americans for McCain."

This is the introduction:

"Once I was thrown into another cell after a long and difficult interrogation. I discovered scratched into one of the cell's walls the creed 'I believe in God, the Father Almighty.' There standing witness to God's presence in a remote, concealed place, recalled to my faith by a stronger, better man, I felt God's love and care more vividly than I would have felt it had I been safe among a pious congregation in the most magnificent cathedral." - John McCain

The page offers short explanations of McCain's stances in four areas: "Judicial Philosophy," "Protecting Marriage," "Human Dignity and Life," "Service, Community and Values."

Obama's People of Faith home page does not link Obama's faith to specific policies, but it has a lengthy blog, several links to Obama's speeches on his faith, and a list of endorsements from religious leaders.

October 24, 2008

Poll: More evangelicals hearing from McCain's campaign

Despite Barack Obama's heavy outreach to religious voters, more evangelicals report hearing from John McCain's campaign, a new poll suggests.

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll report shows that 26 percent of evangelicals have been contacted by McCain's campaign, compared with 15 percent who have heard from the Obama campaign.

The Obama campaign seems to take a more public approach with their faith tours, while perhaps the McCain campaign is taking a quieter approach.

The 2004 Bush-Cheney campaign urged people to obtain church directories, but last year, McCain's campaign denied the same approach. Obama's head of religious outreach Joshua DuBois told Michael Paulson of The Boston Globe that the campaign would not "steal" church directories to call people. Eric Gorski of the Associated Press wrote last month that a McCain campaign spokesman declined to say whether parish directories were in the campaign's plans.

October 23, 2008

Getting political with pumpkins

My roommate and I are carving pumpkins tonight, so it's convenient that I stumbled upon the Associated Press' political pumpkin kit. There's also yeswecarve.com for Barack Obama and a page here set aside for John McCain.

Update: Yes, there was a nonpartisan pumpkin carving. Here are the photos:

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October 17, 2008

Who's Funnier?

John McCain and Barack Obama poked fun at themselves and each other at the Alfred E. Smith dinner, an annual charity event of the Catholic archdiocese of New York.

The speeches are really fun to watch as the candidates turned off their jabbing tones.

At one point, McCain said, "? maverick I can do, but messiah is above my pay grade."

On a more serious note, McCain praised Smith for his pro-life stance. "Your comfort for the sick and needy, your belief in the dignity of life, especially your gallant defense of the rights of the unborn. I'm proud to count myself as your friend and ally."

Obama followed McCain's messiah mention with, "Contrary to the rumors that you've heard, I was not born in a manger. I was actually born on Krypton and sent here by my father Jor-el to save the planet earth."

Update: The Boston Globe's Michael Paulson notes that John Kerry was not invited to the same event in 2004 because he supports abortion rights.

October 17, 2008

Joe the Plumber's Born Again Perspective

Even after years of reporting on religion in politics, God-o-Meter is always taken by how often a random voter turns out to be deeply influenced by his faith, and how often those voters hail from the born again tradition.

Take the newly famous Joe the Plumber's comments yesterday about he views what the U.S. has done for Iraqis:

"Everything that Americans take for granted, I mean these guys haven't had it - now they've got it. That's an incredible thing. I don't know if you guys are Christians or not, but that's like someone coming to Jesus and being saved. These guys have freedom."

Much as the establishment media overlooks the role of religion in the American electorate, interviews with average Joe voters often remind reporters that religion is an major force shaping how they see the world, and in how they vote.

(Originally posted at Beliefnet's God-o-Meter)

September 29, 2008

McCain backs out of rally at Christian university

John McCain's campaign canceled an appearance scheduled for today at Cedarville University in Ohio.

Cedarville's spokesman John Davis told CT that a grassroots organization in the Cedarville area rented the Baptist university's space for the rally. The university was told that because of Friday's debate and today's $700 billion bailout vote, the rally was canceled.

Cedarville President Bill Brown announced the scheduled rally during Friday's chapel service but told students later in the day that the event was canceled. McCain and running mate Sarah Palin did appear at a rally in Columbus today.

Buckeye evangelicals were important for President Bush's victory in 2004 and earlier this summer, some questioned whether they would turn out for McCain.

September 26, 2008

McCain will debate

Senator John McCain will attend tonight’s first presidential debate in Oxford, Mississippi, The New York Times reports. McCain had said he was suspending his campaign and called for a delay of the debate.

Brian Rogers, the campaign spokesman, put out the following statement:

Senator McCain has spent the morning talking to members of the Administration, members of the Senate, and members of the House. He is optimistic that there has been significant progress toward a bipartisan agreement now that there is a framework for all parties to be represented in negotiations, including Representative Blunt as a designated negotiator for House Republicans. The McCain campaign is resuming all activities and the Senator will travel to the debate this afternoon. Following the debate, he will return to Washington to ensure that all voices and interests are represented in the final agreement, especially those of taxpayers and homeowners.

September 26, 2008

Richard Cizik: Evangelical Requests to Meet With McCain Unanswered

God-o-Meter caught up this week with Richard Cizik, chief lobbyist for the National Association of Evangelicals, the nation's largest evangelical organization. Cizik made news earlier in the week in Colorado Springs for questioning whether John McCain was a "principled person" and for "waffling on issue after issue." Cizik told GOM that requests from him and other evangelicals to meet with John McCain have gone unanswered, that when it comes to voting "a lot of evangelical don't think," and spoke candidly about racism Barack Obama may face within the white church.

Despite all Barack Obama's evangelical outreach efforts, polls show evangelical support for John McCain is approaching George W. Bush-like levels. That surprise you?

We do some of our own polling, so I had advance notice that there were some deep-seated suspicions of Obama. I wasn't surprised. I was a little disappointed. Not that I'm an Obama supporter. But I am interested in broadening the agenda of [evangelical] concerns. And I'm of the opinion that some people are going to vote Republican no matter what.... Party line voting in my opinion is unbiblical. It says you don't think. If you're simply voting on same sex marriage and abortion, you're not thinking. What I'm saying is that a lot of evangelical don't think, sad to say. The same is true for African Americans who, no matter who the candidate is they're just going to vote for the Democratic Party. So the African American left and the Religious Right is foolish.

So politically speaking, maybe the evangelical movement is changing less than the news media would have us believe.

There's a demographic shift that's occurring. Young [evangelicals] are less tied to the Republican Party. Those who are disaffected with the GOP are not becoming Democrats. They're becoming Independents. It's a slow moving earthquake that you don't fully recognize. I'm not trying to move anyone to become a Democrat, but to a spiritual, moral, and religious awakening. If all I'm about is making someone a Democrat, that's not real change, to quote Barack Obama. Real change occurs not when someone switches from one party to another but when people shift their way of thinking.

The McCain campaign has beefed up its religious outreach efforts recently. How is their evangelical outreach going?

We put in a request with the McCain campaign and it was never responded to. Many figures in the Republican Party have reached out to the campaign stating their concern that the candidate has not reached out to evangelical leaders, but it went nowhere. And since we're so deep into the campaign, we can only assume that we're not going to get an answer. We had some people, including a governor and a major party official, who said to the campaign, "I think you should meet with some of these evangelicals." I have subsequently interpreted that they didn't think they needed to because they had an idea of their own and that maybe that was Sarah Palin.

Has the Obama campaign reached out to the National Association of Evangelicals?

We put in a request and an answer came back rather quickly: They wanted us to come to a meeting in Chicago with some 25 other leaders. And I went. One is left to conclude that the McCain people have concluded that they don't need such a meeting.

Given those polls showing overwhelming evangelical support for McCain, don't they have a point?

Those polls are a snapshot that may not reflect other realities. The economy is becoming a big issue, and that was before the Wall Street meltdown. So it's not over and this whole bailout picture is good evidence that the party of fiscal discipline and sanity, the Republicans, has become the party of socialized bailouts and fiscal liberalism.

Evangelicals are 50-percent conservative. There are 10 percent that are liberal, and you've got 40-percent that are swing voters. They're the people that McCain has to worry about because if, for whatever reason--the economy, etc.--they go for Obama, then McCain is in trouble. If they decide to vote on economic reasons or the war, then McCain is in trouble. From what the Obama people have said to me, if they can just get the percentage of people that Clinton got, they'll win this election. If I were a betting man, I would have to say the advantage goes to Obama.

But hasn't Obama undermined a lot of his evangelical outreach with very liberal positions on issues like abortion?

As evidenced from Saddleback, where McCain did well by himself and Obama did not, Obama has got some work cut out for him. And there is there is the factor that we all know exists and that few people will talk about: the race factor. Some surveys show that 20-percent of the electorate will not vote for a black man for president, which exceeds the difference between Kerry and Bush in '04.... Somebody's going to vote for somebody not on the basis of the content of his character but on the color of his skin and that' just called sin with a capital S because racism is a sin. And we all knew that racism has been in a lot of the white church.

Are you saying that racist anti-Obama sentiment is more prevalent within the church?

I certainly hope not. I hope and pray not, because if that happens it's a terrible blot on the integrity of our church..... those people ought to be embarrassed, and held accountable in the church. We hold people accountable for sins of other kinds.

Do you still consider yourself a Republican?

After this election, I'd have to evaluate my party. I still consider myself a Republican--a somewhat dissatisfied Republican who's presently disappointed in McCain in some respects. I think he's shifting his position on some long-held issues. That doesn't mean I won't vote for him. If you're evaluating them on environmental issues, Obama's certainly a stronger candidate. There are a lot of people in the GOP who can't stomach McCain's view on the environment and he's going to have to pay homage to those voices. On the other hand, the only person who could change the GOP on that issue is John McCain.

(Originally posted at Beliefnet's God-o-Meter)

September 24, 2008

McCain suspends campaign

John McCain announced today that he is suspending his campaign to return to the capital to focus on the financial crisis, CNN reports.

McCain also wants to delay the first presidential debate scheduled to air Friday. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid issued a statement saying the presidential debate should go on.

"It would not be helpful at this time to have them come back during these negotiations and risk injecting presidential politics into this process or distract important talks about the future of our nation's economy," the statement said. "We need leadership, not a campaign photo op."

Aids to Obama told the New York Times that he was inclined to go ahead with the debate. "There are serious global financial issues at stake and the American people deserve to hear how the next president will handle them," a senior Obama adviser said.

September 22, 2008

McCain: 'my faith is why I'm here today'

John McCain briefly spoke about his religion during yesterday's 60 Minutes.

McCain: I think part of it is a bit private, obviously. But, I also haven't been reluctant to tell various things that have happened in my life, including the fact that my faith is why I'm here today. And my faith sustained me in the most difficult times where I didn't ask for another day or another hour, but for another minute. And so I try to show people that I have the utmost faith in this country, which was founded on Judeo-Christian values. And those are my values.

(h/t Jeffrey Weiss, Dallas Morning News)

September 11, 2008

The Religious Right in Florida: It's Alive

In Florida, long a hotbed for evangelical/Christian Right activity, the Miami Herald reports Barack Obama's evangelical outreach is running into some roadblocks:

When two prominent evangelical Christians from Florida agreed to speak at the Democratic National Convention, the party proudly pointed to Barack Obama's aggressive outreach to a traditionally Republican voting bloc.

But one, a Christian magazine publisher, decided not to go on stage, and the other, the Rev. Joel Hunter, who gave the benediction after Obama's speech, said Tuesday he is ''laying low'' until after the election.

Meanwhile, several leaders of the religious right in Florida say they are more enthused than ever about Republican John McCain, pointing to his strong performance at a nationally televised forum at a California church and his staunchly anti-abortion running mate, Sarah Palin....

The Christian Coalition of Florida is preparing to distribute three million voter guides that will not offer endorsements but will outline the candidates' divergent positions on abortion, gay rights and school vouchers.

''That stay-at-home thing is over,'' said Dennis Baxley, the group's executive director. ``There has been a marked shift from people saying they will vote for John McCain to people saying that they will work for the ticket.''

The Herald notes that Obama's Floridi religious outreach is robust:

Obama's camp is not deterred, pointing to 1,677 ''faith captains'' around Florida who are mobilizing voters in their churches and synagogues. In a sign that the campaign is taking pains to reach the African-American slice of the Christian community, two prominent black Democrats, U.S. Reps. John Conyers of Michigan and John Lewis of Georgia, are meeting this week with religious leaders in Florida.

But with a new Quinnipiac poll giving McCain a 7-point lead in the Sunshine State, Obama's religious outreach team has good reason to worry about their standing with the formidable bloc of sunbelt evangelicals there.

(Originally posted at Beliefnet's God-o-Meter)

September 4, 2008

The prayer from John McCain's pastor

"Father, we think that he has been prepared for such a time as this."

House Minority Leader John Boehner had to bang the gavel twice to get people’s attention to stop popping the balloons and start praying.

These are the words Sen. John McCain’s pastor Dan Yeary prayed:

"Almighty God, we are grateful for the gift called America. We are thankful for the freedom to celebrate what we are doing and have done this week. We have repeatedly invoked your blessing on our country. And as we do, we are reminded of the words you gave to Solomon: if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray, and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, you will hear from heaven and heal our land.

So we pray, humble us Lord, humble us as a people to serve you, help us to seek your face alone. Give us the courage to turn from our self-centered, wicked ways. Hear us, oh Lord, as we ask you to heal our land. We ask you to still the storms … tonight that we ask that you protect our young men and young women who are protecting us from terrorism.

Lord, we ask a very special blessing on our brother John McCain. (cheering)
Father, we think that he has been prepared for such a time as this. We ask that you give him wisdom and courage, wisdom that comes from you, and courage that comes from his relationship with you. We ask your blessing and divine protection on Cindy and the children. May they see such honor and integrity in their parents that they rise up and call them blessed.

Oh Lord, in humility, we ask that you remind us that we cannot put our country first unless you are foremost. For as Jesus taught his disciplines, thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen."

September 4, 2008

'What Good Fortune. ... The Stars Are Aligned'

Not to be a party pooper, but it seems to me that one of the most memorable lines tonight came not from McCain's speech, but from the video that introduced him. Here's how it ended:

"What a life. What a faith. What a family. What good fortune, that America would choose this leader at precisely this time. The stars are aligned. Change will come."

The stars are aligned?

There have been discussions about McCain being superstitious, but I can't imagine that the McCain campaign was really intending to offer a "dog whistle" to astrology fans.

But what were they going for? Gravitas? Were they jealous of the Obama comments they included in their very own "The One" ad?

Whatever the intent, it's an off-key note to sound if you're trying to rally a religious conservative base.

September 4, 2008

An excerpt from Cindy McCain

Here's an excerpt from what Sen. John McCain's wife Cindy McCain is expected to say tonight.

"Forgiveness is not just a personal issue: it's why John led the effort to normalize relations with Vietnam retrieve the remains of our MIAs... to bring closure to both sides. That's leadership - national leadership. And it's leading by example."

September 3, 2008

Steve Strang's Charisma Endorses McCain

"Obama's presidency would be a disaster in many ways," Charisma magazine's Steve Strang writes in an endorsement editorial published today. "McCain's would move our country in the right direction."

It's not really a big surprise, since Strang already told his readers, "I am opposed to the leftist political stands of the Democratic Party and of Obama specifically." He told them he "didn't really want to attend" June's meeting between Obama and several Christian leaders. "But I was curious what the junior Senator from Illinois would say to Christian leaders when it's well known that he supports abortion and the gay rights agenda. In addition, he has ties to Islam as a child through both his father and stepfather."

That message continued, and it's clear that meeting Obama personally didn't change his mind. In today's editorial, Strang said he can't support the Illinois senator.

"One reason is his lack of experience. He does not have one major accomplishment to his name in his life as a public servant. Another reason is his view on the sanctity of life. ... The third reason we cannot support Obama is his sympathy toward those who are attempting to legitimize homosexuality."

But there's a difference between opposing Obama and supporting McCain, and Strang had earlier made clear that McCain was not his first choice. (Mike Huckabee was.) "The fact he divorced the wife who stuck by him and raised his children while he was in a prisoner of war camp to marry a much younger woman, doesn't sit well with those of us who believe marriage is for life," Strang said.

Strang's positive remarks on McCain started with lauding McCain's views on limited government, then continued, "When asked [at the Saddleback Civil Forum] about evil, Obama mentioned Darfur and child abuse - both standard liberal answers. But McCain didn't hedge about evil in the world. He said he'd stop at nothing to get Osama bin Laden."

Help me out here, comment box user types. Are Darfur and child abuse really just liberal issues? And wouldn't you expect an orthodox charismatic Christian like Strang to have a view of evil that didn't quite localize it all in one guy?

Anyway, what struck me most about Strang's endorsement of McCain, though, was how highly Strang ranked "McCain would allow offshore drilling to solve the dependence on Middle Eastern oil. Obama would oppose it." He lists this even before noting that McCain and Obama "would each support very different candidates for the Supreme Court." The Family Research Council just sent out an Action Alert on the issue, too. I understand people are concerned about energy, but I'm surprised that it's becoming such a talking point for religious conservatives.

Strang, whose son Cameron had been scheduled to give the first night's benediction at the Democratic National Convention (but withdrew), calls Sarah Palin "an extra reason to vote for John McCain." But Strang says he wants a chance to interview her personally and to research her background" before he says much more about her.

September 3, 2008

McCain's pastor to pray at RNC finale

John McCain's pastor Dan Yeary is giving the invocation tomorrow night before McCain's acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention.

"John and I are friends, he has called on me to minister to the family in times of challenge and difficulty," Yeary told Reuters in March. "John and I are having continual dialogue about his spiritual pursuits."

Eva Rodriguez, the National Hispanic Evangelical Women’s president is scheduled to give the benediction tonight, and Robert Certain, an Episcopal priest who was a former prisoner of war in Vietnam gave the invocation last night.

September 3, 2008

Hush hush religious outreach

The religious outreach at the Republican National Convention seems to be much quieter than the show put on by the Democratic National Convention.

I blogged several times last week about the interfaith service and the faith caucuses. Other than the brief prayer breakfast this morning, I haven't found a religious event sponsored by the RNC or the McCain campaign.

Well, apparently all the evangelicals met last Friday before I got here. At least that's what David Kirkpatrick at the New York Times writes.

"At a lunch Friday in Minneapolis, two of his top advisers - Charlie Black, a veteran political operative, and Dan Coats, a former senator from Indiana - were extolling Ms. Palin's virtues to about 150 influential evangelicals as evidence of Mr. McCain's ideological commitments," Kirkpatrick writes. "That night, at a larger gathering of Christian conservatives, the campaign sent Frank Donatelli, vice chairman of the Republican National Committee, to reinforce the message: Mr. McCain would be a 'pro-life' president, which could make a crucial difference with two Supreme Court justices close to retirement."

My plane arrived late Friday night, but either way, I didn't get the memo (and I asked the RNC and campaign several times for those types of memos). Maybe the RNC relies on groups like the Eagle Forum to host events. In any case, there's definitely a difference between Denver and St. Paul.

September 3, 2008

Invoking the Saddleback forum

The Saddleback Forum at Rick Warren's church is brought up again and again here at the Republican National Convention. Last night, Fred Thompson mentioned Obama's remarks on when life begins, and tonight, Mitt Romney will invoke McCain's remarks on what he defined as evil.

"And at Saddleback, after Barack Obama dodged and ducked every direct question, John McCain hit the nail on the head: radical Islam is evil, and he will defeat it! Republicans prefer straight talk to politically correct talk!"

August 30, 2008

John McCain says he may postpone convention ... and he's praying about it

John McCain said the Republican National Convention may be postponed Hurricane Gustav approaches New Orleans, Politico reports.

"It just wouldn't be appropriate to have a festive occasion while a near-tragedy or a terrible challenge is presented in the form of a natural disaster," McCain told Chris Wallace of "Fox News Sunday," in an interview taped for tomorrow. "So we're monitoring it from day to day and I'm saying a few prayers, too."

President Bush, first lady Laura Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney are scheduled to speak on Monday, the convention's opening day. Just three years ago, McCain was celebrating his birthday with Bush when floods were hitting New Orleans.

Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia at Charlottesville, told the San Antonio Express-News that there's too much time, money, and energy tied into the event to change it.

"Only the toughest partisan would criticize a convention for going on as scheduled. It's not like people can change a hurricane," Sabato told Peggy Fikac. "Maybe they should put Pat Robertson to work to pray it away."

August 27, 2008

Minnery disappointed by religious outreach, not thrilled with McCain

Tom Minnery, a senior vice president with Focus on the Family, is attending many of the religious outreach events at the Democratic National Convention this week. He spoke with me about the Democrat’s religious outreach and the challenges Sen. John McCain has to overcome with evangelical voters.

What do you think so far?
I was entirely disappointed in their supposed outreach to conservative evangelical believers. It was a fraud. There was a panel, a faith forum, how can progressives work with conservative, religious people. Not a single conservative among then nine speakers and it was tired old leftist dogma. There was absolutely no discussion about responsible fatherhood. There was not a single solution proposed that didn’t involve the government.

What did you think about the interfaith service?
It’s interfaith as long as it’s on the left. I didn’t see a prominent conservative leader speak. Rev. [Blake] who spoke about the evil of abortion, I suspect he won’t be part of the interfaith dialogue in the future. It doesn’t exist. What a shame. I was hoping to see if there was real fruit in this dialogue in the supposed reach out to conservatives. They now have a candidate Barack Obama who is comfortable talking about religion, but his is a traditional liberal theological viewpoint and they went with the flow. Jim Wallis is an increasing disappointment. He may be evangelical theologically, but politically he’s liberal. Rick Warren said last week in that interview with the Wall Street Journal that his book is an agenda of the Democratic Party and I agree with that.

What about the Democrats’ efforts to reduce abortion?
There’s only a reason that abortions should be reduced, and that’s for the very same reason it should be eliminated. If it’s not life, what’s the problem with it?

What about John McCain? He’s struggled to talk about his own faith.
He does. I’m not sure of the extent of his saving faith if there is one. We as evangelicals would have hoped to hear a lot more. I hope those who are Christians who are around him are talking to him. He usually talks about that Vietnam soldier’s faith. It loosened his bonds, scratching a cross in the dirt, I’ve heard that about six times. He does seem to have viable Judeo-Christian worldview, which means that things of God are significant, the church needs to be vigorous and independent, he knows the difference between right and wrong, good and evil.

Continue reading Minnery disappointed by religious outreach, not thrilled with McCain...

August 19, 2008

Would McCain choose a pro-abortion candidate?

Vice presidential candidate guessing games continue

Sen. John McCain told the Weekly Standard last week that he would consider a pro-abortion candidate, but Fox News reports today that has ruled out former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge.

Republican National Committee officials told Fox today that McCain is no longer considering Ridge, who supports abortion rights. McCain has announced that he will announce his running mate Aug. 26, the day after the Democratic National Convention ends.

Fox reports that senior McCain advisers and aides have told RNC officials that McCain "got the message" last week that choosing a running mate who supports abortion rights would not be helpful.

The National Review reported yesterday that the McCain campaign had called state Republican officials around the country the last couple of days to weigh consequences of a pro-choice running mate.

The Associated Press reports that McCain's top contenders are said to include Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, and Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, the Democratic vice presidential pick in 2000 who now is an independent.

Sen. Barack Obama may announce his running mate this Saturday. His short list includes Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, Delaware Sen. Joseph Biden, Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine and Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh.

August 16, 2008

Georgia, the Christian Nation

Why does McCain keep bringing religion into the Georgia-Russia conflict?

McCain had some criticism earlier this week among some religion-and-politics bloggers when he noted that Georgia is "one of the world's first nations to adopt Christianity as an official religion."

The criticism earlier focused on the church-state aspects of the comment.

"First of all, a nation cannot 'convert' to Christianity -- only individuals can choose to follow Jesus Christ," Wake Forest University's Melissa Rogers wrote on her blog. "Second, while some nations do establish an official religion, I find it disturbing that an American presidential candidate would seem to describe that as a good thing."

Steve Waldman thought the line was political, communicating:

1) I think having Christianity as an official religion is a fine idea in general
2) This is just like the Cold War when the forces of Christianity are at war with the forces of Atheism
3) I view the protection of Christians from attack worldwide as an important goal

Mark Silk just thought McCain's comment was weird.

But tonight, after McCain repeated the line, recent Eastern Orthodox convert Rod Dreher just got mad. "Total and shameless pandering to Evangelicals," he blogged. "As if Russia isn't a Christian nation. As if Russia hasn't been Christian for over a thousand years. As if Christianity had anything to do with this conflict."

Seriously, though, if you're looking for a good religion angle on the conflict, check out George Pitcher's Telegraph article on church responses.

This is cross-posted from CT's liveblog.

August 16, 2008

McCain on stem-cell research, abortion, marriage, and evil

Conservative evangelicals have raised John McCain's support of embryonic stem-cell research in opposition to his candidacy.

McCain addressed it briefly in his response to Rick Warren's "worldview questions." "For those of us in the pro-life community, this is a great struggle. … I’ve come down on the side of stem cell research, but I’m wildly optimistic that skin cell research … will make this debate an academic one."

Rick Warren: At what point is baby is entitled to human rights?
John McCain's answer: At the moment of conception. I have a 25 year pro-life record in congress, in the senate. This presidency will have pro-life policies. That’s my commitment to you.
Warren's answer: We won’t go longer on that one.

Warren: Define marriage.
McCain: A union between man and woman, between one man and one woman. The court overturned the definition of marriage. I believe they were wrong. I’m a federalist. I believe states should make that decision. That doesn’t mean that people can’t enter into legal agreements, that they don’t’ have the rights of all citizens.

When asked a question on evil, McCain said, "If I have to go to gates and hell and back, I will get Osama Bin Laden."

This is cross-posted from CT's liveblog.

August 16, 2008

McCain's faith

Rick Warren's question: How does faith work out for you on a daily basis?

John McCain's answer: "It means I’m saved and forgiven."
He then told a story about worshiping with another Christian during his captivity in Vietnam. On Christmas, a North Vietnamese guard walked with him in the yard, and drew a cross in the dirt and quickly scratched it out.

"For a minute there, it was just two Christians worshiping together. I'll never forget that."

This is cross-posted from CT's liveblog.

August 16, 2008

Moral failure

Obama has already had a lot of ink spilled on what he told Warren his biggest moral failure was: using drugs and alcohol and selfishness in his youth.

McCain's answer was short: "The failure of my first marriage." Background is here if the answer was a surprise.

This is cross-posted from CT's liveblog.

August 16, 2008

The candidates' and the country's greatest failures

Sen. John McCain and Sen. Barack Obama just stood on the same platform for the first time this campaign.

One of the first questions Rick Warren posed to the candidates was: What would be the great moral failure in your life? What would be the great moral failure in America.

McCain said his personal failure was the failure of his first marriage but didn't say anything further on it. The country's greatest failure was its own self-interest.

"I think after 9/11, my friends, we should have told Americans to join the Peace Corps, expand the military, serve a cause greater than your self-interest," he said.

Obama's answer about himself:

"I had a difficult youth ... I experimented with drugs and drank ... I trace this to a certain selfishness on my point ... I couldn't focus on other people. The process of me growing up is to recognize that it’s not about me."

On the country's greatest failure:

"We still don't abide by that basic precept in Matthew that whatever you do for the least of my brothers, you do for me. That basic principle applies to poverty to racism and sexism. It applies to not thinking about ladders of opportunity to get in the middle class. As wealthy and powerful as we are don't spend enough time thinking about the least of these."

This is cross-posted from CT's liveblog.

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.

August 5, 2008

McCain Campaign Targets Obamessianism

Mara Vanderslice says a recent McCain ad is a dog whistle suggestion that Obama may be the Antichrist. For what it's worth, Hal Lindsey says the Antichrist "won’t be Barack Obama, but Obama’s world tour provided a foretaste of the reception he can expect to receive."

But that doesn't stop University of Pennsylvania anthropologist John L. Jackson Jr. from claiming that the ad is more than just an effort to paint Obama as the Antichrist -- it's an effort to paint him as Left Behind's Nicolae Carpathia.

Apocalyptic interpretations aside, Georgetown's Jacques Berlinerblau says the McCain ad is "is nothing less than an attempt to nuke Obama's religious appeal and credibility into oblivion."

David Waters says it's just old hat.

Judge for yourself. What do you think the message is?

July 24, 2008

McCain's Evangelical Moment?

John McCain and Barack Obama have accepted invitations to sit down with Purpose-Driven Life author Rick Warren at his Saddleback Church for public (and open-media) interviews just before next month's big nominating conventions. David Brody sees the forum as presenting John McCain a golden opportunity to have an "evangelical moment," wherein the Arizona senator can finally come out forcefully on two key issues: life (i.e. against abortion rights) and marriage (i.e. against gay unions):

[W]ith Obama there as well, he has a MAJOR opportunity to clearly showcase the differences between the two candidates on social issues. He can talk about the unborn baby and the abortion issue; he can talk about his support for the California Constitutional Marriage Amendment.... It's McCain's clearest opportunity yet to paint himself as a "friend" of the Evangelical community.

God-o-Meter is skeptical that he'll seize this opportunity. The press release for Warren's summit makes clear that his questions will focus on four areas: poverty, HIV/AIDS, climate, and human rights. Warren is sending the clear message, in other words, that he won't be fixating on hot button issues. So it could be up to McCain, as Brody to bring those issues up himself, which Brody acknowledges. The record show that one of the Christian Right's major gripes about McCain is his habit of completely ignoring those issues unless he's asked about them point blank. So what are the chances he departs from that at Saddleback, especially when his interlocutor--Warren--is out to bridge the country's ideological differences?

Pretty small, God-o-Meter thinks. But he has been bulking up his ranks of faith advisors, and maybe they'll get through to McCain in the month before he sits down with Warren. But there are risks involved: McCain could look like he's pandering--or come off as a divider at a "unity" event.

This article is cross-posted from Beliefnet's God-o-Meter.

July 24, 2008

Dobson Might Endorse McCain

The AP reports:

Conservative Christian leader James Dobson has softened his stance against Republican presidential hopeful John McCain, saying he could reverse his position and endorse the Arizona senator despite serious misgivings.

"I never thought I would hear myself saying this," Dobson said in a radio broadcast to air Monday. "... While I am not endorsing Senator John McCain, the possibility is there that I might."

...."There's nothing dishonorable in a person rethinking his or her positions, especially in a constantly changing political context," Dobson said in a statement to the AP. "Barack Obama contradicts and threatens everything I believe about the institution of the family and what is best for the nation. His radical positions on life, marriage and national security force me to reevaluate the candidacy of our only other choice, John McCain."

Earlier, Dobson had said he could not in good conscience vote for McCain, citing the candidate's support for embryonic stem cell research and opposition to a federal constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, as well as concerns about McCain's temper and foul language.

Could this be the best of all possible worlds for McCain? He's able to reap a possible endorsement from an evangelical heavy who'd previously denounced him without having to risk tarnishing his independent/maverick reputation by having to grovel for Dobson's support. Good deal.

This article is cross-posted from Beliefnet's God-o-Meter.

July 14, 2008

May not share which views?

In his interview with NYT's Adam Nagourney and Michael Cooper last week, John McCain almost revealed a religious belief. Here's the relevant exchange.

Q: Do you consider yourself an evangelical Christian?

Mr. McCain: I consider myself a Christian. I attend church, my faith has sustained me in very difficult times. But I think it depends on what you call a quote evangelical Christian. Because there are some people who may not share my views on – I mean, that covers a lot of ground. But I certainly consider myself a Christian.

Q: How often do you go to church?

Mr. McCain: Um, not as often as I should. When Cindy and I are in Phoenix, we attend. We’ve been fortunate enough the last few weeks to be in Phoenix. During the primary before that we were not back in Phoenix much so – again, not as frequently as I would like. I do appreciate the pastor of the North Phoenix Baptist Church, his name is Dan Neary (SP) [sic, actually Yeary], and I talk to him frequently on the phone and I appreciate his spiritual guidance. He’s a great believer in redemption.

What are the views that some evangelicals might not share? The only hint, if hint it is, comes at the end of the passage; and if I had to guess, I'd say that McCain has a somewhat more universalistic view of salvation than strict evangelical doctrine provides. Why?

In the interview, McCain calls Rev. Yeary "a great believer in redemption." (He's done this at other times as well.) As opposed to what? A Baptist pastor who doesn't believe in redemption or one who believes that redemption is possible in ways we might not understand? I'd say the latter. Here's what North Phoenix Baptist, a 7,000-member church in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), has to say on the subject:

We believe that Jesus has eternally existed as the Son of God. As a part of the narrative story of God's redemption, Jesus became human. In other words, God became one of us. The church describes this as the Incarnation. The redemption narrative, which we call the Bible, continues as Jesus not only becomes human, but is born to a virgin and lives a sinless, perfect life on earth, allowing him to make right everything that had been done wrong in Adam.

I can find nothing on the church's website comparable to this, from the SBC's Faith and Message:

Salvation involves the redemption of the whole man, and is offered freely to all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, who by His own blood obtained eternal redemption for the believer. In its broadest sense salvation includes regeneration, justification, sanctification, and glorification. There is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.

Whether or not Yeary's views on redemption depart from the Faith & Message, his emphasis appears to be on spiritual reconciliation and inclusion, and that clearly appeals to McCain.

If I'm right, McCain's views on salvation may be similar to Barack Obama's--and most Americans'. But it's more problematic these days for a Republican candidate for president to own up to such views than for a Democratic one. Hence the reticence.

This article is cross-posted from Spiritual Politics.

July 14, 2008

McCain's evangelical problem, Obama's Catholic one

A new Newsweek poll, which has Obama leading McCain overall by 44 percent to 41 percent, has McCain leading Obama among white evangelicals 60 percent to 23 percent, and among white Catholics 49 percent to 33 percent. That's pretty good news for Obama on the evangelical front, and for McCain on the Catholic one, comparatively speaking. In 2000, white evangelicals preferred Bush over Gore 68-30 and in 2004, Bush over Kerry 78-21. So the Newsweek numbers put Obama in Gore territory. In 2000, white (non-Hispanic) Catholics went for Bush over Gore 52-45 and in 2004, Bush over Kerry 56-43. There, the Newsweek numbers make out McCain as slightly stronger than the 2004 Bush. Bottom line, McCain is indeed in a bit of trouble with the GOP evangelical base and Obama's got something of a white Catholic problem.

This article is cross-posted from Spiritual Politics.

July 11, 2008

McCain's New Ad: God's Children

No, the ad's not about "values" issues. It's about immigration. In it, John McCain calls all immigrants--legal and illegal--"God's children." Is this Sam Brownback's hand at work? Brownback has for years talked about every person--including the unborn--as being a "sacred, unique child of a living God." McCain, for his part, has been a lot less prone to talk that way. Could Brownback be playing a stepped up role after all the criticism McCain received for his anemic religious outreach?

This article is cross-posted from Beliefnet's God-o-Meter.

July 9, 2008

Some Evangelicals Don't Want to be 'Stuck' Again

Even though about 100 evangelicals met last week in Denver to discuss supporting Sen. John McCain, some of them are just as anxious not to be caught with another candidate like him, according to Dan Gilgoff at God-O-Meter.

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Denver meeting's organizer, Mathew Staver, chairman of Liberty Counsel and dean of Liberty University School of Law told Gilgoff that much of the Denver meeting was focused on building a long-term strategy for the Christian Right to avoid getting stuck with another someone like McCain, a candidate which some evangelicals have found wanting.

"When you compare McCain to Obama, there's no choice... [McCain] might not represent everything you want in a candidate, but Obama would decimate our values," Staver told Gilgoff. "There's definitely a concern among evangelicals that [Obama]] might see some come to his side because of his rhetoric of change."

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July 6, 2008

Can McCain Reach Must-Win Evangelicals?

McCain is reaching out to evangelicals, but is it working?

John McCain seems to be increasing his outreach to evangelicals, recently meeting with religious leaders in Ohio and making a publicized visit with Billy and Franklin Graham.

Ralph Z. Hallow of The Washington Times believes that evangelicals are "flocking to [the] formerly 'unacceptable' candidate." About 100 religious conservatives met in Denver last week, many of whom decided to back McCain.

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Philip Elliott of the Associated Press isn't so sure. "So far, there's been scant sign that the Republican nominee-in-waiting is making inroads among these fervent believers," he writes.

"I don't know that McCain's campaign realizes they cannot win without evangelicals," David Domke, a professor of communication at the University of Washington told Elliot. "What you see with McCain is just a real struggle to find his footing with evangelicals."

Wayne Slater of the Dallas Morning News writes that the campaign has created Christian-outreach teams in 14 states and is scheduling private meetings with local evangelical leaders. The campaign also has a 1,000-person e-mail list of social conservative and national leaders with influence in local communities.

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