John Edwards: 'My Faith Came Roaring Back'
In the first of a series of interviews with presidential candidates, Edwards discusses how faith affects his decisions.
Our selfishness. Our resort to war when it's not necessary. I think that Jesus would be disappointed in our ignoring the plight of those around us who are suffering and our focus on our own selfish short-term needs. I think he would be appalled, actually.
You've had a lot of experience with suffering. Part of your career has been representing people who we see as suffering. You've also had what you called "world stopping pain" and suffering in your own life. What has that suffering taught you?
It's been part of my own personal faith journey. Because I've done what I think a lot of Americans have done, which [is]: I was raised in a very Christian home and a Southern Baptist church, and baptized in the Southern Baptist church. My dad has been a deacon in the Southern Baptist church for many years. In fact, we went back to my church a few weeks ago and he was getting the Lay Person of the Year Award, which we were all very proud of him for.
But when I went away to college, I drifted away from my faith. Even after Elizabeth and I got married, I had drifted away. It isn't that we didn't exercise faith. We would go to church, but it was not the sort of dominant day-to-day living faith that it is for me today. And in 1996, on a day I'll never forget, my 16 year old son died. And the days after that, when I was trying to survive and Elizabeth's trying to survive, my faith came roaring back and has stayed with me since that time, and helped me deal with the personal challenges we've had. Not only the death of my son, but some of the politics and the difficulty of that on our family. Elizabeth's breast cancer. All the things that we've seen, which is not that unusual for families.
What has it taught you about God?
That God will be there when you need him. That I believe in a benevolent and merciful God. That when things seem at their worst and their lowest, he will always be there for you. That no matter what you do, he will forgive you. And it is important to ask for his forgiveness. It's important in my case to have a personal relationship with the Lord, so that I pray daily and I feel that relationship all the time. And when I'm faced with difficult decisions, which I regularly am, I very often go to him in prayer.
Do you have a favorite prayer?