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McCain’s Religion

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In one of the more interesting twists in this year’s presidential election, the Democratic nominee, whether it be Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton, will be more comfortable discussing his or her personal faith than will Republican nominee John McCain. We know all about Obama’s religion and Clinton’s faith has been well analyzed too. But McCain has remained rather quiet on his own faith. Why?

Politico has a good explanation:

[McCain] is a throwback to an earlier generation when such personal matters were kept personal. To talk of Jesus Christ in the comfortable, matter of fact fashion of the past two baby-boom era presidents would be unthinkable.

What drives him – at least outwardly – is precisely what he has been talking about this week: a love of country and sense of duty instilled by a military family with a long legacy of service.

I have no problem with those who choose to speak openly of their relationship with God or Jesus. But I’ve always preferred leaders who keep a quiet faith. We do not all share the same religion and even those of us who are Christian have dramatically different interpretations of scripture and our duties as believers. Leaders who focus too much on their personal religious beliefs disconnect themselves from those who do not share the same faith. However, a politician who focuses on matters of patriotism (in its robust sense) and civic duty can connect with all of us. We are all Americans. We are not all Baptists or Episcopalians or Roman Catholics.

Before this campaign is over, McCain will likely have to describe his personal faith in greater detail. But I respect him for keeping his religion private and choosing to speak about duties and motivations in which we all can share. I do believe religion provides a strong moral core but I do not believe a man need wear his faith on his sleeve in order to be considered a good leader or even a good Christian. I haven’t always agreed with the religious figures with whom McCain has associated, but I admire the way he’s handled his personal faith and wish such conduct was more common.