John McCain, who rarely talks about his faith publicly, discussed some of his religious beliefs with reporters Wednesday – including the question of whether he might consider being baptized again.
The presumptive Republican nominee talked with journalists traveling with him from Kentucky to West Virginia about his home congregation, North Phoenix Baptist Church.
“Pastor Dan Yeary has a message I enjoy and appreciate,” he said, adding that he and his family have “grown close to [Yeary] over the years” and that he tried to attend services at the church whenever he was home in Arizona.
“The message that Dan Yeary conveys of Christian love and redemption is one that I welcome,” said McCain. “And I’m always spiritually helped and assisted when I attend those church services, as I think most Americans are when they attend church services.”
The Arizona senator, who was raised an Episcopalian, has attended North Phoenix for nearly two decades, but is not a member because he has not been baptized into the church.
On Wednesday, he told reporters that he had been baptized in Panama, where he was born, and talked about a photo in his memoirs of himself as a baby in a baptismal gown, with his father and grandfather.
“It’s like a dress,” he chuckled.
But he was more guarded about his current plans with regard to baptism, calling them “a private thing.”
“I’ve been in discussions with Pastor Yeary, and we’ll continue those discussions,” he said. “It’s a personal thing, it’s a very personal thing concerning my faith and I am proud of my faith, I am proud of my belief and the sustenance and the redemption that I have received.
“And my faith was tested in extraordinary fashion and it was my faith that got me through not the next day, or the next hour but the next minute.”
In an interview with Baptist Press last month, Yeary said that McCain was less open about his faith because he was “a historical Episcopalian, and if you and I sat down with him and started talking Baptist talk, he just doesn’t have that kind of vocabulary.”
But he also told BP that McCain “has a strong faith and he is committed to Christ. I don’t have any doubt about it.”
On Wednesday, McCain cited the “the importance of Judeo-Christian values of ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.'”
“There’s enormous implications of that simple phrase,” he added, calling it “one of the fundamental principles of leadership.”