Thursday, September 18, 2008

The first non-Christian President-to-be?

According to a recent profile piece on Cindy McCain in The New Yorker—yeah, I read it; I'm elite that way; I read The New York Review of Books, too—while they attend her family's church in Phoenix, Senator McCain has not himself ever been baptized. According to the New Testament view and the traditional view of all Christian traditions, one becomes a Christian by baptism. This would mean that, if elected, McCain would be the first non-Christian—unless you exclude Unitarians—President of the United States. And you thought he was beholden to the Christian right.

9 comments:

KT said...

Are you suggesting we shouldn't (or that you wouldn't) exclude unitarians from the set of Christians?

Tyler said...

I am suggesting that it is an open question whether historical unitarians or Unitarians should be considered Christians or not. Among the historical unitarians are such people as John Milton, who certainly was a Christian. And, probably until very recently, there were a lot of Unitarians who would have fallen within the general category “Christian”, even if many current ones do not, inasmuch as one can now be an atheist and a Unitarian, apparently with no cognitive tension.

RottweilerTOM said...

dude, baptism is NOT what incites the religious right - it's what John Talaga famously lamented - its about gays, guns and gabortions!

Pre Election day dinner or lunch in the near future?

Tyler said...

I know it won't incite them, it's just another interesting issue, sort of like the almost total absence of any religious faith in Reagan and his heroic status among them.

Anonymous said...

We need a non-Christian president--not that Christians are horrible people, but having a president without religious centrism would be nice.

Tyler said...

I'm not quite sure what religious centrism is. I think you mean something like making religion central to one's policies. But we have had a lot of Christian Presidents for whom religion has not been at all central to their policies. Think, for instance, of our current President, whose policies have almost nothing to do with Christianity—sure he's anti-abortion, but that can actually be separated from religion, leaving you only with abstinence education and his distrust for science has less to do, I think, with his religious convictions than his general belief that everything will turn out okay. It is really hard to imagine any of his social policies or his foreign policy as being motivated by religion at all. And, it is hard to imagine that a non-Christian or an agnostic or atheist would be a better President just because not Christian.

Anonymous said...

You obviously know nothing about Christianity. Accepting Jesus Christ as your personal savior and asking for the forgiveness of your sins makes you a Christian - it has nothing to do with the ritual of baptism.

Tyler said...

And, at least some anonymous posters who have not the courage of their convictions to use their own name when calling others ignorant know nothing about the 1900 years of Christianity that preceded the evangelical movements of the twentieth century. Nor have they ever read Acts or Romans.

Tyler said...

Oh, and you'd surprised how much I obviously don't know.