September 17, 2007

Despite listing himself as an Episcopalian for years, presidential candidate John McCain now claims to be a Baptist. It is true that he and his family have attended a Baptist church for years, but until now he kept referring to himself as an Episcopalian. It is interesting that he claims to have been a Baptist for years even though earlier this year he was still calling himself an Episcopalian. Another interesting aspect here is that McCain called himself an "active member" of a Baptist church even though he admitted he had not been baptized by immersion as a believer (which is the very act that gives the faith group the name Baptist).

Author David Jeffers calls McCain "McBaptist" because of his claim that he is Baptist but has not followed through with believer's baptism. He argues:

Many of the Baptist faith are going to have a hard time accepting McCain's claim that he is a Baptist while saying he 'did not find it (baptism) necessary to do so for my spiritual needs." "Baptism is not followed to meet spiritual needs; it is an act of obedience and a public profession of faith in Jesus Christ.
Jeffers also dismissed it as "pandering" and "a sign of his desperation to save his campaign." It should not matter what his church affiliation is but it seems odd for him to suddenly change it. Also odd is that he dismissed the importance of a basic tenet of the group he now claims. McCain laughed off a question that calling himself a Baptist might help him in South Carolina. But it is possible that conservatives in that state would be more friendly toward a Southern Baptist (as many of them are Southern Baptists) than someone who is part of a denomination many of them (including many Southern Baptists) view as extremely liberal.

By the way, Aaron Weaver has pointed out some interesting background about the church McCain attends. The former pastor fought the fundamentalists who took over the SBC even though he was theologically conservative and the church has remained in the SBC.