McCain's faith: Say what?

say whatNow this has to be the strange lede of the day. The story focuses on all of the faith talk that is going around at the moment, much of it stirred up by Barack Obama's "bitter" remarks and Hillary Clinton's related attempts to spin herself as a pew-sittin', gun-lovin' friend of the everypeople who live in that state located between Philly and Pittsburgh.

That's the context for this story by Andrea Billups of the Washington Times, which serves as a kind of flashback and update on the faith journey of Sen. John McCain from the Episcopal pews of his youth to the Southern Baptist megachurch that he favors today.

All well and good.

But what in the world is this lede about? This is one of those cases where I wonder if this is what the reporter wrote, or did this wording result from a train wreck at an overworked copy desk. Here we go:

Don't expect any public testimonies of faith from presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, who is not demonstrative about his religion but who embraces a Baptist faith that is based on salvation.

The religious intentions of Democratic candidate Sen. Barack Obama were dissected after he publicly explained his decadeslong relationship with the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., but the senator from Arizona likely will talk little about the details of his own spiritual path other than to acknowledge that he is on one.

"The most important thing is I'm a Christian," Mr. McCain told reporters in September on the campaign trail when asked about his religious affiliation.

Say what? He has adopted "a Baptist faith that is based on salvation"? As opposed to what, an Anglican faith that is not based on salvation? A Catholic faith that is not based on salvation? What kind of mainstream Christian body is not, to one degree or another, "based on salvation"?

I have literally no idea what dropped out of this sentence. Was it supposed to be a lede about a born-again concept of salvation? Is it code for the fact that his church preaches that some people are saved and others are not? In other words, is the controversy that he now attends a non-Universalist church (thus opening the door to a controversy about item No. 2 in the infamous tmatt trio)?

I am very, very confused. I await enlightenment, especially from you Godbeat veterans out there. What was this lede trying to say? Is the key that he once was not an evangelical, but now he is -- maybe?

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