McCain’s chaplaincy

Newsweek takes a look at John McCain the Vietnam POW chaplain, which McCain describes as being the result a happy accident of his fluency with liturgy from his Episcopal upbringing rather than any particular religious devotion. But as it happened, that cart did come before the horse. His experiences “leading” worship helped him see just how powerful faith could be in bringing people together.

Michael Gerson, in writing the article, is making an argument for McCain in terms of other ways his Episcopal upbringing has influenced his policy decisions.

He appealed effectively to religious conservatives on a variety of specific issues—abortion, school choice, judicial appointments—but devoted only a single sentence to his own theology. And he is largely incapable of explaining how his faith informs his public priorities.

But McCain does have a case to make, even if he can’t seem to make it. His old Episcopal training seems to have given him something more than a mastery of the Nicene Creed. He has often shown a stubborn sense of decency and morality that should appeal broadly to Protestants (mainline and evangelical), Roman Catholics, Jews and others who are concerned about social justice.

There remains the question of who will make the case if McCain cannot, however. You can read Gerson’s attempt to, here.

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