Excerpts from an article by Matt Stearns:
McCain has written movingly of how his faith helped him survive 5 1/2 years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, but he says little about the current role of religion in his life.
"I think it's something between me and my creator," McCain said in an interview with McClatchy Newspapers. "It's primarily a private issue rather than a public one. ... When I'm asked about it, I'll be glad to discuss it. I just don't bring it up."
* * *
McCain has for years attended North Phoenix Baptist Church in Arizona. The church has about 6,000 members and is part of the theologically conservative Southern Baptist Convention, the nation's largest evangelical denomination.
Cindy McCain and two of their children have been baptized in the church. McCain hasn't: "I didn't find it necessary to do so for my spiritual needs," he said.
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."
* * *
But while his reticence to talk openly of his faith may not hurt McCain politically, many observers said it certainly would help him if he did.
Given that his chief competitors for the Republican nomination, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, aren't regarded as natural allies of Christian conservatives, "a positive religious proclamation would have a strong effect," said Don Aiesi, a political scientist at Furman University in South Carolina.
"They're looking for people who have faith that guides them in making decisions," agreed Steve Scheffler, president of the Iowa Christian Alliance.
McCain, told of that, pointed to his time as a prisoner of war, when a Vietnamese guard who had been kind to McCain etched a cross in the prison-yard dirt with his sandal one Christmas morning. The guard rubbed it out after the two had stared at it together for a minute or so.
The lesson has stayed with McCain ever since: "Wherever you are in the world, no matter how tough the situation is or how difficult, how despondent you are, there will be some way for your faith to lift you up and sustain you."
Click here to read the complete article.