The confetti and popping balloons had barely subsided at the end of the Republican National Convention when John McCain’s media-shy Southern Baptist pastor delivered a closing prayer bordering on a plea for God’s endorsement.
When introducing the presidential forum at Saddleback Church last month, Rick Warren noted that the separation of church and state does not mean the separation of faith and politics. He was right about that. Warren or any other pastor is entitled—as the government is not—to ask Barack Obama and John McCain about their faith in Jesus and to judge them accordingly.
A veteran of Democratic Party politics and a former aide to representatives Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) and James Clyburn (D., S.C.), Burns Strider was senior adviser and director of faith-based outreach for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign.
With a California megachurch as the setting for their first joint campaign appearance, Republican John McCain gave crisp, campaign-tested responses, and Democrat Barack Obama offered nuanced replies to questions on religion, character, leadership and public policy.
The presumptive Republican nominee for president, Arizona senator John McCain, has for 15 years attended North Phoenix Baptist Church, which is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. The pastor of the church for that same period has been Dan Yeary.
John McCain has a deep and personal Christian commitment despite his reluctance to speak publicly about it, according to the man that the Arizona senator and presumed GOP presidential nominee claims as his pastor.
Two politically attuned professors in the South called the sharp rhetoric of Jeremiah Wright understandable in the context of an inner-city, largely black church, and both experts marveled at how political opponents seized upon the former pastor’s relationship to Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama.