Some "Straight Talk" about Muslims and Mormons

That straight-talking maverick from Arizona is living up to the hype once again. John McCain, in an interview with the outstanding website Beliefnet.com, said the following about Muslims who might one day seek to be President of the United States. From the NYTimes:

Senator John McCain said in an interview posted on the Internet on Saturday that the Constitution established the United States as a Christian nation and that his faith is probably of better spiritual guidance than that of a Muslim candidate for president…

“I just have to say in all candor that since this nation was founded primarily on Christian principles, that’s a decision the American people would have to make, but personally, I prefer someone who I know who has a solid grounding in my faith,” Mr. McCain said in response to a question about the possibility of a Muslim’s running for president. [Link]

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p>Mr. McCain, what are your views of the Constitution exactly?

Q: A recent poll found that 55 percent of Americans believe the U.S. Constitution establishes a Christian nation. What do you think?
A: I would probably have to say yes, that the Constitution established the United States of America as a Christian nation. But I say that in the broadest sense. The lady that holds her lamp beside the golden door doesn’t say, “I only welcome Christians.” We welcome the poor, the tired, the huddled masses. But when they come here they know that they are in a nation founded on Christian principles.[Link]

Well I guess it is better to agree with 55% of people than with 45% of them. Now what about Mormonism? Surely a Christian nation shouldn’t follow a Mormon right?

Q: People are raising similar concerns about Mitt Romney’s Mormonism, which some consider to be outside the Judeo-Christian tradition.
A: I believe that the Mormon religion is a religion that I don’t share, but I respect. More importantly, I’ve known so many people of the Mormon faith who have been so magnificent. I think that Governor Romney’s religion should not, absolutely not, be a disqualifying factor when people consider his candidacy for President of the United States, absolutely not. [Link]

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p>What that implies of course is that McCain doesn’t know people of the Muslim faith that have been magnificent, just so-so maybe. I can just picture an SNL skit where McCain pretends he has Muslim friends :) Of course, McCain did backtrack a little:

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…” [Link]

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p>What prompted these comments in the first place? Here is an idea:

In a response to the interview that also was posted on beliefnet, David Kuo, the former deputy director of the White House’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, characterized Mr. McCain as “a man pandering to what he thinks the Christian conservative community wants to hear. It is as if he is trying to sound like the ‘agents of tolerance’ he once critiqued, thinking that will cause Christian conservatives to like him. It is a sad performance…” [Link]

80 thoughts on “Some "Straight Talk" about Muslims and Mormons

  1. Separation of church and state is such a powerful concept that you don’t always realize how well its working in this country. Have you ever heard for ‘separation of mosque and state’ ?

    What McCain is saying actually makes some sense. This is a Christian nation, but it is truly secular in many ways. Our saffron banner waving desi brethren will shout about India’s pluralistic, secular society. But a country where Hindus and Muslims have their own set of laws, where we openly discriminate (ok, reverse discriminate) against (for?) Dalits ans SC/STs is hardly secular. But I digress.

    McCain is appealing to his core base saying things which are essentially true: - Most of this country will never want a Muslim president. Face it. If either party (ok, it will have to be the democrats) select a Muslim as their nominee, we might as well save money by not having elections. A black, gay, Jewish woman would be more ‘acceptable’. - This country WAS founded on Christian principles. That is why they had to establish separation of church and state. All the founding fathers were, if not professed believers themselves, at least brought up in Christian families. But either through fear of the power the Church of England could wield or through genuine smarts established an important divide. - Mormonism is much closer of Protestant Christianity than Islam. So long as you accept one of the bible based religions, which one doesn’t matter that much.

  2. McCain was an unknown politician till his primary victories in 2000. He had a story to stick that time. The ‘What were you doing when I gave six years of my life as a POW for my country?’ factor made him a media darling.

    After that, and especially in this campaign, he has tried to be all things to all republicans…. His pundits have convinced him no way can he go on further banking only on the independent vote.

    Just an attempt to shore up a floundering campaign. Sad to see his fall to this.

  3. I really don’t know if this was founded on Christian principles. u could say this country has a Christian culture. but that does not mean the ocuntry was founded on Christinaty. More like Enlightenment Principles which coincided with Christian Principles.

    a book I’ve read: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/product-description/0805077766/sr=8-3/qid=1191258029/ref=dp_proddesc_0/104-3128978-4383124?ie=UTF8&n=283155&s=books&qid=1191258029&sr=8-3

    Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism

    Book Description “Jacoby accomplishes her task with clarity, thoroughness, and an engaging passion.” Los Angeles Times Book Review At a time when the separation of church and state is under attack as never before, Freethinkers offers a powerful defense of the secularist heritage that gave Americans the first government in the world founded not on the authority of religion but on the bedrock of human reason. In impassioned, elegant prose, celebrated author Susan Jacoby traces more than two hundred years of secularist activism, beginning with the fierce debate over the omission of God from the Constitution. Moving from nineteenth-century abolitionism and suffragism through the twentieth century’s civil liberties, civil rights, and feminist movements, Freethinkers illuminates the neglected achievements of secularists who, allied with tolerant believers, have led the battle for reform in the past and today.Rich with such iconic figures as Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Paine, and the once-famous Robert Green Ingersoll, Freethinkers restores to history the passionate humanists who struggled against those who would undermine the combination of secular government and religious liberty that is the glory of the American system.

  4. This sounds awfully like the Hindutva rhetoric coming from fundamentalist politicians in Hindustan. They claim that Hindustan is a Hindu nation and all rest must assimilate or be wiped out sort of like how the Buddhists were pushed out.

    Those Hindutva people are useless. But even those guys appointed a Muslim President(yeah, not the same as a PM, but still better than what any of these religious Christians would tolerate over here).

  5. Those Hindutva people are useless. But even those guys appointed a Muslim President(yeah, not the same as a PM, but still better than what any of these religious Christians would tolerate over here).

    They didn’t have a choice. It was foisted on them by their allies TDP (and others non-saffron partners of NDA). He was a last minute, bolt from blue, compromise candidate much like the current president, after the allies vetoed hardcore saffron candidates.

  6. I used to hold a lot of respect for McCain and now he is like a fallen Jedi. Sad to see McCain go through this path.

    Same here.

    Doesn’t McCain have a Bangladeshi child? His attitude seems discordant with his adoption practices.

  7. His attitude seems discordant with his adoption practices.

    he doesnt mind the bangladeshi child coming, as long as he understands hes coming to a country founded on christian principals. doesnt seem discordant to me. He will probably raise the kid christian.

  8. McCain’s bizarre pronouncements are just another installment of the wingnut right’s attempt to Christianize the USA by rewriting history. Yes, the founding fathers were Christians, but there wasn’t anything else for them to be. It’s not as if it was ever a choice to enshrine Christianity in the constitution. Yes, the document is based broadly on Judeo-Christian notions about the equality of individuals (as opposed to groups or classes) and the right to profess or not profess a faith, but McCain is just being willfully stupid. The USA is a Christian nation? The senator should at least be able to pass a high school civics class.

  9. Oh, and one more thing–you could just as easily argue that the USA was intended by the founding fathers to be as much a Freemason nation as a Christian one.

  10. Some of you should have followed the link to read that McCain also said this; 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.”

    And this: “But I say that in the broadest sense,” he added. “The lady that holds her lamp beside the golden door doesn’t say, ‘I only welcome Christians.’ We welcome the poor, the tired, the huddled masses. But when they come here, they know that they are in a nation founded on Christian principles.”

    Asha’s Dad you might want to read this ( again from the link ); Mr. McCain, an Episcopalian, said he regularly attends a Baptist church and described himself as a “practicing Christian.” He said he has been in regular discussions with a pastor about converting to Baptist. But he said that he would not convert during the campaign because of the perception that he was doing it for political reasons.

    “I would not anticipate going through that during this presidential campaign,” Mr. McCain said. “I am afraid it might appear as if I was doing something that I otherwise wouldn’t do.”

    The biggest reason his campaign is ‘ floundering ‘ is because he is no opportunist and he stood up to the bigots in his party’s base and called for comprehensive immigration reform. The man has a stellar record of fighting corruption ( corporate, big oil, lobbyists ) and has been calling the administration out on its flawed Iraq policy for the last two years including for the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld. John McCain is the proud father of an adopted South Asian child who has gravely risked his presidential ambition by fighting for the rights of hardworking undocumented immigrants. I’d think South Asian immigrants should be lauding this guy. If some of you commenters have a bone to pick with Republicans there are targets much more deserving of your wrath – like that chameleon Mitt Romney, lazy ass Fred Thompson or that son of a bitch Tancredo.

  11. The biggest reason his campaign is ‘ floundering ‘ is because he is no opportunist and he stood up to the bigots in his party’s base

    funny. he is only principled in comparison to the rest of that slippery bunch. and tancredo? really? tancredo is a sorry excuse for a human being, leave alone as a candidate. saying that mccain is better than him is not saying anything at all.

  12. No I am not comparing him to Tancredo. John McCain is one of the most principled people in public service irrespective of his reconciliation with Jerry Falwell – a singular about turn in an otherwise excellent, decades-long service to this nation.

  13. McCain is better than anyone else currently running on either side. The only other person who can be compared is Guiliani. If aguiliani can complete a sentence without saying 9/11, I will think about voting for him. Otherwise, I am in McCain’s corner.

    Hillary is so programmed I do not know anything baout her. She might be competent but she gives us no idea as to what she will be competent at. Obama has shown neither the experience nor the toughness to take on Hillary and I do not think he will be a competent leader. Edwards is the real liberal but somehow his campaign is tuck in neutral.

    Thompson, I have no idea. But if this is the “new Reagan” then the Republican party is in lot more trouble than I thought. Romney’s resume is impressive but he seems to be running away from the moderate positions that made him look attractive to me . Guiliani, I get you are tough but there are other issues. Other than talking about his toughness and taking phone calls in the middle of a major speech he has not convinced me that he is ready for primetime. He should be the next AG.

    McCain in spite of his pandering and stubborness regarding the Iraq war has the experience to handle foreign affairs. He has worked with Kennedy on immigration (inspite of knwoing that it might cots him in the primaries) to get a sensible policy. Although all right wingers hate his camapign finance bill, I think given the influence that big money had on politics it was a sensible step. It amy not be the final solution.

    This is the primaries and he has enough time to come back home to his more sensible positions in the general election. So let us get him elected.

  14. Doesn’t McCain have a Bangladeshi child? His attitude seems discordant with his adoption practices.

    Yeah, where “anonymous opponents used “push polling” to suggest that McCain’s Bangladeshi born daughter was his own, illegitimate black child”, according to the Boston Globe, in the 2000 Republican Primaries.

    I do wished he was President in 2000, but now, I cannot in good conscience vote for him.

    And for the love of God, don’t even attempt to compare McCain to a loud-mouthed chickenhawk coward like Tom Tancredo, who did not even go to Vietnam citing depression problems lol

    McCain fought for his country and was subjected to the worst torture unimaginable to any servicemember in Vietnam. Despite his diminished standing, I still think he is much more of a man of integrity than many other politicians.

  15. posterity, sure he was honorable in the past, but his track record in the last 7 years has been pathetic, to put the most charitable face on it. i expect politicians to compromise on principles, but when a guy’s only distinguishing feature is that he doesn’t, he better maintain that position.

  16. I wish that one of these dudes would actually take the step of elucidating what exactly they mean by “Christian principles.” The treatment of other humans as chattel? The denial of basic civil rights to homosexuals? The embrace of Zionism as a means of furthering some bizarre apocalyptic future spelled out in a religious text? Misguided opposition to the dispersal of condoms in the developing world? The acceptance of global climate change as just part of God’s divine plan for the earth?

  17. I wish that one of these dudes would actually take the step of elucidating what exactly they mean by “Christian principles.”

    Exactly… which Christian principles are we talking about, here? Should we be stoning adulterers in the public square? Or for that matter completely redistributing wealth to the poor, as Jesus seemed pretty fond of doing? Actually I remember seeing Bill Maher do a hilarious riff on the time when George W. Bush said his favorite political philosopher was Jesus… Maher was like “Uhhh, wasn’t Jesus basically a hippie socialist?”

  18. The entire war on Iraq is a racist, anti-Muslim affair that John McCain has endorsed from the get-go. The perpetrators of the war relied on American ignorance about the Middle-east and Islam and peoples’ assumptions that all Muslims could potentially fly airplanes into our skyscrapers. So, I am not surprised at all about his comments – His actions have spoken louder than words for the last 4 plus years.

  19. McCain is an idiot. I think he needs to stop reading the constitution and venture out into a book or two…or, hey, maybe the New York Times, even!…and slowly, it will start to seep in that this thing called ‘America’ was BUILT by immigrants….all kinds of immigrants – christians, jews, muslims, hindus, sikhs…immigrants who had a work ethic the day they arrived, they didn’t learn it by reading the constitution…and, mostly, they were not let in because of Uncle Sam’s mercy, but because America had its economic needs…sometimes for increased manual labor in special industries…sometimes for brain power (go H-1B’s!)….need…it’s been a two way street, McCain, wake up and smell the Tazo Chai Latte….and quit bringing religion into the picture, because it only pisses people off.

  20. I’m sure someone has the details on this but if Pearl Jam had campaigned for Al Gore instead of Ralph Nader would George W still be President?

  21. This evangelical Christian mentality has recently been reincarnated in the military to an alarming degree, as outlined by retired Air Force Office, Mickey Weinstein (Jewish, with several generations of his family serving in the military.) His book, “With God on Our Side”, shows how careers may be stymied if the officers and grunts do not conform. Doubtless this results not only in religous bigotry but enormous religious hypocracy in many of those who do outwardly accept conformity. http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/?q=node/20642

    The intent of the American founders was that religion was clearly not to play a MANDATORY role in education or public life. Many studies have been done on this subject and the country become more publicly religious during the evanagelical years of the early-mid 19th century.

  22. I’m sure someone has the details on this but if Pearl Jam had campaigned for Al Gore instead of Ralph Nader would George W still be President

    I think democrats need to stop blaming Nader and look within themselves for why they blew an election against a spoiled self entitled brat like Son of Bush and Darth Cheney. If Buchanan got more votes, i doubt Repubs would have any case to blame him. Dems lost more votes because of overpaid lousy consultants who had no firm convictions. Lieberman was a total failure in the debate and failed to show Cheney for what he was. Democrats got lazy and expected to automatically win. Nader did not cost them the senate or house either. But I see Dems blame Nader for all the problems they have had since then. Even now, for 2008, they seem to be running hoping Bush keeps messing up instead of trying to offer any concrete solutions. Right now, i am resigned to Madame Hillary winning.

  23. I’m sure someone has the details on this but if Pearl Jam had campaigned for Al Gore instead of Ralph Nader would George W still be President?

    Yeah, I wonder along the same lines too. What if Clinton had remained zipped up in WH? What if Gore had actually won his home state Tennessee? What if the Democrats had actually done more about the disenfranchised black voters and vote fraud in FL? A Democrat senator had supported the black congressional caucus when they raised the issue of voter fraud? So many variables and they had more control over many of those variables than Nader.

    Why focus on and hate one guy who actually has the balls to take a stand against corruption? If more people actually supported people like him instead of saying “Yeah, I agree, but he can’t win” (I’d be rich if I got a penny every time I heard that), maybe, just maybe things would be different. But it’s easier to blame others than to look in the mirror (though we can easily sing about it) – that’s a universal human nature, so I can understand why this canard still continues to live on, 7 years on. But I don’t agree with it. :)

  24. Senator McCain is close. I wouldn’t want a Wahabbi Muslim for President. But when it comes to Mormonism, he apparently doesn’t know about the Mormon temple oath, where Mormons swear to do EVERYTHING they can to establish their church on earth. See the Featured Post “A warning from someone inside Mitt Romney’s cult” and also “Do you want a Raelian – or a Mormon – for President?” at

    romneyforpresident.townhall.com

    Like Mormonism, the blog isn’t what it seems.

    (Funny photos too.)

  25. At the very least, overt religiosity (even to the mildest extent) would rule out any Muslim candidate, or for that matter people of most other religions. It’ll take major changes in the US and elsewhere to change perceptions, but a presidential candidate, someone who would be responsible for protecting rights saying this is downright pandering. Even Hollywood toes the line on how a President looks like, most of the time. I’m not sure though that even liberals will find easy to vote for a Muslim candidate, unless he/she has an exemplary record of defending freedoms (of course, conversatives will have their own views on how to defend freedoms and America), and he/she may actually be held to a standard higher than the norm.

  26. “”I wish that one of these dudes would actually take the step of elucidating what exactly they mean by “Christian principles.”"”

    I’ll bite, though I’m not one of those dudes.

    People fail to neglect that Jefferson and them were a small minority in their deism — and that the country never was nor should be “theirs,” which even they would agree with. If the people want a religious country, they should get to have one. Most of the country in the eighteenth century was fiercely religious at the time, especially following the Great Awakening of the 1730s and 1740s. Much of what drove the independence movement and its fighters had nothing to do with taxes or issuing currency (which is really what the constitutional framers and writers of dec of ind had in mind) but with their idea of God’s covenant with the people of this land. Complete independence from England and its church (and of course Rome and its) would finish what those separatist calvinists had in mind when they left the netherlands and came to plymouth– divorce from a corrupt materialist society and the establishment of one dedicated purely to Christian principles, Winthrop’s “City upon a hill.” Whenever people get all flushed up about America, that is what they’re getting flushed up about, and that is, even for a hindu in america, a celebration of protestantism. To pretend that Protestantism is not central to the founding of America is plain wrong; America is nothing but an experiment in radical Protestantism. The “separation of church and state” is primarily a way to keep power away from clergymen and the pope.

    Everything from the celebration of plainness in speech to the lack of ornamentation in architecture (other than for those pagan-loving people that made DC) in America is pure protestant.