WASHINGTON (AFP) — US Republican presidential hopeful John McCain moved Sunday to calm controversy over an interview in which he said he would prefer to have the US president be Christian rather than Muslim.
“I just have to say in all candor that since this nation was founded primarily on Christian principles … personally, I prefer someone who I know who has a solid grounding in my faith,” said McCain, 72, in an interview posted Saturday on the faith and politics news site Beliefnet.
“I think the number one issue people should make [in the] selection of the president of the United States is, ‘Will this person carry on in the Judeo Christian principled tradition that has made this nation the greatest experiment in the history of mankind?'”
Oh, John the Baptist McCain, I almost (but not quite) feel sorry for you.
Original DVD cover.
Asked if that criteria would make it difficult for a Muslim to perform well, McCain responded: “I admire the Islam. There’s a lot of good principles in it. I think one of the great tragedies of the 21st century is that these forces of evil have perverted what’s basically an honorable religion.”
Awww, he admires the Islam. How very Christian of him!
As with everything McCain, the backpedaling followed as soon as he got his foot out of his mouth.
From The New York Times:
The interview was conducted by beliefnet, a Web site that writes extensively about religious issues of virtually every denomination. After the interview, Mr. McCain contacted the Web site to clarify his remarks, saying, “I would vote for a Muslim if he or she was the candidate best able to lead the country and defend our political values.”
In response, Muslim and Jewish organizations are saying McCain’s comments are divisive and ignore the nation’s traditions of religious pluralism and inclusion born from the Constitution. They add that McCain’s comments are heaped on top of a number of gaffs from Republican leaders who suggest the party is one that excludes people who are different from the mainstream.
“If the GOP wants to reach out to minority communities, they’re not doing a good job,” says Ibrahim Hooper, spokesperson for the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “We have a string of these Republican gaffes: Virgil Goode said ‘No Muslim should take an oath on the Koran.’ Peter King said there are too many mosques in the U.S. Daniel Pipes said Palestinian villages should be razed—and he’s an adviser to [GOP presidential candidate Rudy] Giuliani. These are troubling remarks and there’s absolute silence from the Republican Party.”
DiversityInc contacted the Republican National Committee for comment but did not receive a response.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), in a statement, described McCain’s comments as “disappointing and disturbing” and said it had sent the Arizona senator a letter asking that he withdraw his statements.
“We would have thought that a senator as experienced and respected as John McCain would place himself above such divisive appeals to religious intolerance,” said Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the ADL, in a statement. “His remarks were inaccurate and ill-advised for any candidate seeking to lead a nation as religiously diverse as ours … Absolutely nothing in the Constitution establishes that the U.S. is a Christian nation, nor is it accurate to say that this nation was founded on Christian principles.”
Oh, poor, poor John the Baptist McCain! Won’t anyone come to your defense?
From Think Progress:
But there’s at least one religious group that is proudly backing McCain’s religious bigotry. In a press release, the Christian Coalition — an organization founded by Pat Robertson — said McCain may win the presidency with his “America is a Christian Nation” comment:
In a Christian Coalition of America blog entry entitled: “McCain’s ‘America is a Christian Nation’ Comments Might Make Him President,” Jim Backlin said: “Comments like ‘America was founded on Christian principles’ by Senator John McCain just might make him president.
Oh, and there’s this guy:
Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) has also lept to his friend’s defense: “I have known John McCain very well for many years and I know that he does not have a bigoted bone in his body. I know that he is fair and just to all Americans regardless of their faith.”
Will all of this do John the Baptist McCain any good?
Sept. 30, 2007 | WASHINGTON — A powerful group of conservative Christian leaders decided Saturday at a private meeting in Salt Lake City to consider supporting a third-party candidate for president if a pro-choice nominee like Rudy Giuliani wins the Republican nomination.
The meeting of about 50 leaders, including Focus on the Family’s James Dobson, the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins and former presidential candidate Gary Bauer, who called in by phone, took place at the Grand America Hotel during a gathering of the Council for National Policy, a powerful shadow group of mostly religious conservatives. James Clymer, the chairman of the U.S. Constitution Party, was also present at the meeting, according to a person familiar with the proceedings.
According to a New York Times profile, the CNP was established in 1981, with the help of Paul Weyrich, chairman of the Free Congress Foundation, and the Rev. Tim LaHaye, the bestselling author of the “Left Behind” book series. In recent years, President Bush, former Undersecretary of State John Bolton and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld have met with the group, the Times reported. CNP membership is a closely held secret, and its meetings are not publicly announced or open to the press.
Dobson, who is one of the nation’s most outspoken Christian leaders, has previously announced that he does not support Giuliani, Arizona Sen. John McCain or former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson as nominees for the Republican Party.
(Side note: Read more about CNP here!)
Pander on, John the Baptist McCain!!