'I'm Spiritual. I'm Religious. I'm a Good Christian.'

Wesley Clark on anti-military preachers, his conversion, bigotry against his Jewish dad & when he was most 'close to God'

This interview, conducted by Beliefnet Editor-in-Chief Steven Waldman, is the first in a series with the candidates.

BELIEFNET:

Your mom was Methodist.



GENERAL WESLEY CLARK:

She was.



BELIEFNET:

So how did you end up as a Baptist as a child?



CLARK:

My mother told me once that she and my father agreed that I would not be brought up Jewish in Chicago. She had me going to a Methodist church. When we went back to Arkansas, she told me when I was four and a half years old, "You'll have to choose the one you want to go."



I remember the Methodist church in Chicago had these beautiful stained glass windows. So I saw a church in Arkansas that had those beautiful stained glass windows and it was right across the street from this barber shop that had a miniature barber's chair complete with the razor strap and everything.

So I picked that church. It was the Immanuel Baptist church. And so that was my church. I picked that church when I was not quite 5.



BELIEFNET:

Did you go to that on your own or did your Mom go with you?



CLARK:

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Mostly I went on my own. My mother went a couple of times to the Emmanuel Baptist church. When we moved over to the North Valentine street and after a couple of years she got tired of driving me to Emmanuel Baptist which is on the other side of town. So we went to a local Baptist church which was called

Pulaski Heights Baptist church

.



BELIEFNET:

What was that like as a little boy to be going to Baptist church there on your own? Do you have any memories of that?



CLARK:

Sure, I was always nagging my parents to come. I think my mother and stepfather came once or twice. That was it. Other kids had their parents there.



BELIEFNET:

What was your argument to them?



CLARK:

That I wanted them to come!

BELIEFNET:

You were 4 1/2 when your father died?



CLARK:

Not quite 4.



BELIEFNET:

Not to get psychobabbly here but any sense of how the death of your father was affecting your spiritual life?



CLARK:
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