Beliefnet
God-O-Meter

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He wasn’t always like this. Last year, after Mike Huckabee stirred controversy with an ad that characterized him a “Christian leader,” John McCain released his own Christian ad explaining what the cross meant to him as POW in Vietnam. A few months earlier, McCain had sat down with Beliefnet and opened up about his faith, revealing his discussions with his evangelical pastor about undergoing a baptism. But that was months ago. These days, as The Politico notes this morning, McCain is mum about his religious life:

Traversing the country this week on a tour of places that have shaped his life and informed his values, John McCain spoke in strikingly personal language to introduce himself to the American public.
But missing so far is any significant mention of religious faith.
In an Oprah Winfrey-era where soul-baring and expressions of faith are the norm for public figures, the presumptive Republican nominee, open and candid about much else, retains a shroud of privacy around his Christianity.
….In this way, McCain, 71, 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 happened? Why has McCain grown quiet about his faith at the very moment he’s staged a national tour to reintroduce himself to the country? After losing pro-lifers and frequent churchgoers in so many primary states, McCain may figure that last year’s faith talk got him nowhere. Now that the nomination is his, he may feel emboldened to do things the McCain way, which means treating his faith as a personal matter.
Either way, it’s gonna get more difficult for McCain to keep quiet on religion once he squares off with Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton in the general. Obama and Clinton frequently invoke their faith on the campaign trail and often appear in religious settings. Is McCain willing to be juxtaposed to them as Mr. Secular? He knows that Democrats have the secular vote cornered, right?


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