The Associated Press broke a story ab0ut presidential candidate John McCain's statement this past weekend that he is in fact a Baptist, despite his past comments that he is an Episcopalian. The news hook is that McCain made these comments while he was in South Carolina, which happens to have a lot of Baptist voters. The AP did its due diligence and found comments the senator made to McClatchy Newspapers:
In a June interview with McClatchy Newspapers, the senator said his wife and two of their children have been baptized in [North Phoenix 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.
Does this matter? On the campaign trail it seems to matter to the self-described straight-talker:
The Associated Press asked McCain on Saturday how his Episcopal faith plays a role in his campaign and life. McCain grew up Episcopalian and attended an Episcopal high school in Alexandria, Va.
"It plays a role in my life. By the way, I'm not Episcopalian. I'm Baptist," McCain said. "Do I advertise my faith? Do I talk about it all the time? No."
McCain does discuss faith on the campaign trail. He regularly tells crowds about a North Vietnamese POW guard who would loosen his bindings while he was a prisoner. One Christmas, the man surreptitiously signaled his Christian faith, McCain says, by making the sign of a cross with his toe in the dirt.
McCain said Sunday he doesn't know how his Baptist faith might affect his showing in South Carolina.
The bigger story here is that McCain is actually talking about his religion. McCain is known for criticizing others for talking about their faith. But back to the particulars of McCain's statements. There is a simple way of proving one is a Baptist: Has McCain undergone a full-immersion baptism?
As the AP noted, McCain had not been baptized into the Baptist church as of June. The first question a reporter should ask a person claiming to be Baptist is whether they have been baptized into the church. Anyone know the answer to this? Unfortunately, the AP found the politics of McCain's statement more interesting than what most Baptists in South Carolina are probably wondering.