Just the facts on religion.

John McCain and Religion

What is John McCain's Religion?

John McCain grew up Episcopalian. He attended Episcopal High School where he attended daily chapel services. McCain explains that his faith in God was reinforced when he was kidnapped and tortured by the North Vietnamese during the Vietnam War. He scratched the first seven words of The Apostles’ Creed on his cell wall, “I believe in God, the Father Almighty” and prayed fervently while incarcerated.

Fast Facts on John McCain

John McCain on His Personal Religion and Beliefs

"I pray regularly, and I don't have to be getting ready for bed, to be getting up in the morning. I seize opportunities throughout the day.... I haven't always succeeded; I've failed many times. But because the foundation of your and my belief is redemption, I've been able to receive additional comfort, strength and the desire to move forward again." [3/13/00]

"Q: For years, you've been identified as an Episcopalian. You recently began referring to yourself as a Baptist. Why? McCain: [It was] one comment on the bus after hours. I meant to say that I practice in a—I am a Christian and I attend a Baptist church. I am very aware that immersion is part—as my wife Cindy has done—is necessary to be considered a Baptist. So I was raised Episcopalian, I have attended the North Phoenix Baptist Church for many years and I am a Christian. Q: What prevents you from taking that final step of undergoing the baptism? McCain: I've had discussions with the pastor about it and we're still in conversation about it. In the meantime, I am a practicing Christian. Q: So the baptism is something you still might do? McCain: Oh, sure, yeah. But, some of the factors haven't got so much to do with religion as they have to do with just—I'm in conversations with [my] pastor about it, as short a time ago as last week. But I would not anticipate going through that during this presidential campaign. I am afraid it might appear as if I was doing something that I otherwise wouldn't do." [9/07]

"Q: How would you describe your relationship with God today? McCain: I pray every day. I ask for guidance. I ask for strength. I don't ask for personal success. I think it's wrong. When I was in prison, I told my fellow prisoners, don't pray to go home. Pray to go home with honor, if it be God's will, not just under any circumstances…. So, it's a very important part of my life. But, I cannot tell you that I've ever had a revelation from God--it's been kind of plotting. I pray, I receive comfort, I think I receive guidance, I know I receive guidance and I pray and it's, you know, it's not a spectacular kind of thing. It's something that I think is very lasting." [9/07]

"McCain says he is not 'born again' and has not been baptized. He says he is 'just a Christian,' who for many years has been attending the North Phoenix Baptist Church in Arizona with his family. He was raised in the Episcopal Church." [10/18/07]

"[Choosing a Baptist church] wasn't so much a rejection of the Episcopal Church. It was, I came into that church, I sat down, I got the message of redemption and love and forgiveness, and it resonated with me. I found going to that church was beneficial to me in my life." [10/18/07]

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References and Further Reading

    - David van Biema, "McCain's Faith: 'I Pray Regularly'." TIME, March 13, 2000. - Dan Gilgoff, "John McCain: Constitution Established a 'Christian Nation'." Beliefnet, September 2007. - Linda Feldmann, "John McCain: Keeping faith, on his own terms." Christian Science Monitor, October 18, 2007.