McCain Talks About His Faith

Monday, September 17th 2007, 1:53 pm
By: News On 6

AIKEN, S.C. (AP) _ Republican presidential candidate John McCain said Monday that questions over whether he identifies himself as a Baptist or an Episcopalian are not as important as his overarching faith.

``The most important thing is that I am a Christian,'' the Arizona senator told reporters following two campaign stops in this early voting state.

The comment came after a weekend during which McCain corrected an Associated Press reporter who asked him how his Episcopalian faith plays a role in his campaign and his life. While it's well-known that McCain and his family for years have attended the North Phoenix Baptist Church in his home state of Arizona, the senator had consistently referred to himself in media reports as Episcopalian.

``It plays a role in my life. By the way, I'm not Episcopalian. I'm Baptist,'' McCain said Saturday. ``Do I advertise my faith? Do I talk about it all the time? No.''

In a June interview with McClatchy Newspapers, the senator said his wife and two of their children have been baptized in the Arizona Baptist church, but he had not. ``I didn't find it necessary to do so for my spiritual needs,'' he said.

He told McClatchy he found the Baptist church more fulfilling than the Episcopal church, but still referred to himself as an Episcopalian.

In May, McCain's campaign identified his religion to The Associated Press as Episcopalian, but noted his four younger children are Baptists and he attends the North Phoenix Baptist Church when at home.

McCain grew up Episcopalian and attended an Episcopal high school in Alexandria, Va. On Monday, he spoke briefly about that history and about the Baptist church he now attends. Then, after saying his overall faith is what's important, he concluded: ``I don't have anything else to say about that issue.''

During a morning stop in Aiken, McCain spoke to about 180 veterans and other supporters at a Veteran of Foreign Wars post as part of his three-state ``No Surrender'' tour. He encouraged people to ask legislators to turn back efforts by Democrats to curtail the war in Iraq by limiting how long troops can serve there.

After that appearance, McCain reaffirmed his support for embryonic stem cell research, which he said has split abortion foes.

``It's very tough for those of us in the pro-life community,'' McCain told reporters. ``I've come down on the side of support for embryonic stem cell research.''