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Monday, September 17, 2007

John McCain is a Baptist? An unbaptized Baptist?

Yes. John McCain is a Baptist.

From the Associated Press:
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. - Republican presidential candidate John McCain, who has long identified himself as an Episcopalian, said this weekend that he is a Baptist and has been for years.

Campaigning in this conservative, predominantly Baptist state, McCain called himself a Baptist when speaking to reporters Sunday and noted that he and his family have been members of the North Phoenix Baptist Church in his home state of Arizona for more than 15 years.

"It's well known because I'm an active member of the church," the Arizona senator said.
In the AP piece, McCain acknowledges that he has not been baptized.
In a June interview with McClatchy Newspapers, the senator said his wife and two of their children have been baptized in the Arizona Baptist church, but he had not. "I didn't find it necessary to do so for my spiritual needs," he said. He told McClatchy he found the Baptist church more fulfilling than the Episcopalian church, but still referred to himself as an Episcopalian.
McCain's church is North Phoenix Baptist Church located in Phoenix, Arizona. The 6,000 member North Phoenix is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention and at the state level with the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention.

A few thoughts:

1. John McCain by his own admission has not been baptized.
2. John McCain says he's an "active member" of North Phoenix.
3. Baptism by immersion is a prerequisite for membership in Southern Baptist churches. The Baptist Faith & Message 2000 states that {baptism} "is a prerequisite to the privileges of church membership and to the Lord's Supper."

So the question begs - is John McCain actually a member of a Baptist Church?

I don't think he is.

For more on John McCain's faith check out this article.

And a Baptist tidbit: The "theologically conservative" Richard Jackson was the former pastor of McCain's North Phoenix Baptist Church. In 1988, Jackson lost to Jerry Vines in a closely contested election for the Presidency of the Southern Baptist Convention. At the time, North Phoenix claimed over 18,000 members. Today, North Phoenix has 6,000.



Blogger foxofbama said...

Good post Bdiddy;
Hope you will take as close a look at Doug Carver, Prentice Fox and Charles Marsh. Enlist the aide of fellow grad students there at Baylor and Byran Kaylor.
To paraphrase the Old Hymn; Wherever It Leads, Hope you'll go
Follow, Follow Follow the Trail.

2:57 PM

Blogger texasinafrica said...


Do you have to be a member to be a Baptist?

9:02 PM

Blogger Big Daddy Weave said...


I take a traditional view on baptism.

James Dunn has often remarked that a belief in the separation of church and state does not make a person a Baptist but that "it is hard to believe that one could be a Baptist and not cling tenaciously to that baptistic doctrine."

Similarly, believer's baptism does not make one a Baptist but it's rather hard to believe that one could be a Baptist but not desire to participate in this symbolic act that has distinguished who we are as Baptists for the last 400 years.

11:13 PM

Anonymous Michael Westmoreland-White said...

Even in the SBC there are a few churches with an open membership policy--they encourage all pedobaptists to be scripturaly baptized but don't insist on it. This minority strand in Baptist life dates back to the very Baptist John Bunyan and his tract, "Water Baptism, No Bar to Communion!"

Even such open membership churches, however, will not baptize infants.

But, I have to say that I am surprised that John McCain is claiming to be Baptist, now, when he has always claimed to be Episcopalian before. Not that my vote would be influenced by where he goes to church--or doesn't go.
This is a non-issue for me--and dangerously close to having a religious test for public office--a violation of Article 6 of the U.S. Constitution.

3:10 AM

Blogger Big Daddy Weave said...

Obviously being Baptist in South Carolina sells much better than being an Episcopalian.

These stories are good to see how candidates misuse their faith for political purposes. We've got Richard Land trying to sell Thompson as a regular church goer and John McCain conveniently deciding to identify as a Baptist. Amazing.

Although I'm not sure how Article 6 plays into this. Any person regardless of faith or lack thereof is allowed to run and consequently hold office if elected. But voters can and do bring their biases into the voting booth. Republicans shouldn't dismiss Romney because he's a Mormon. If I was one, I wouldn't. But it is their right to do so as individual voters.

10:45 AM

Blogger Dan Trabue said...

"Republican presidential candidate John McCain, who has long identified himself as an Episcopalian, said this weekend that he is a Baptist and has been for years."

The way this reads, it sounds like he's "outing" himself as a Baptist... as if he were ashamed to say so.

Man, can I identify with that!

1:22 PM


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