JOHN McCAIN, SEMI-BAPTIST....The latest weirdness from the traveling carnival that is the Republican presidential campaign is John McCain's sudden assertion that he's not an Episcopalian, as he's always identified himself before, but a Baptist. In fact, he's been attending a Baptist church for 15 years. Only one problem: he's never been, um, baptized. "I didn't find it necessary to do so for my spiritual needs," he told McClatchy a couple of months ago. Georgia cracker Ed Kilgore comments:
Well, you'd think anyone who's been attending a Baptist Church for 15 years might have caught wind of the fact that the denomination, as its name suggests, believes rather adamantly that baptism is necessary for salvation, a reasonably important "spiritual need" by most measurements.
And no, it wouldn't cut any ice with his fellow-Baptists if it turns out that McCain, like most Episcopalians, was baptized via sprinkling as an infant. Any kind of Baptist I've ever heard of holds that only a "believer's baptism" (i.e., at an age of consent) through full bodily immersion is valid. That's why their theological ancestors in Europe were contemptuously dubbed "Re-baptizers," or "Anabaptists."
I don't know why McCain has chosen to wander into this particular thicket. But the only way out I can imagine is if he asks Huckabee to baptize him during the next candidate debate.
The June McClatchy story is here:
McCain still calls himself an Episcopalian, but he said he began attending North Phoenix Baptist because he found "the message and fundamental nature more fulfilling than I did in the Episcopal church. ... They're great believers in redemption, and so am I."
I dunno. McCain may be a Baptist, but he sure doesn't sound especially convinced about it. Still, it'd be a shame to waste all that pandering he did to Jerry Falwell last year. Baptist it is!
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