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In Theory:

McCain’s comments make impact

October 13, 2007

Jewish leaders criticized Republican presidential candidate John McCain last week when he said he preferred a Christian president.

The GOP senator had been asked if he thought a Muslim candidate could be a good president. Later he said, "I would vote for a Muslim if he or she was the candidate best able to lead the country and defend our political values." But he added that "the Constitution established the United States of America as a Christian nation." What's your reaction to McCain's comments?

I thank John McCain for welcoming non-Christians into a polity synonymous with Christianity.

Though we can never be fully integrated, we are delighted to be here by his sufferance and pledge to be patriotic, albeit from the outside.

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I believed that no religion was to be endorsed by our government.

Now that I learn that Christianity and America are one, I am heartened that my vote counts, that blood shed by non-Christian troops is honored, and that I can be elected to serve alongside Christian office holders.

What to make, though, of Woodrow Wilson's observation: "The laws of Moses contributed the impulses which were to prepare the institutions of our modern world. And if we but have eyes to see, we should readily discover how very much beside religion we owe to the Jews, even the Constitution itself."

Perhaps we should say, "Welcome Sen. McCain, to America — a Jewish country."

Rabbi Mark S. Miller

Temple Bat Yahm

Newport Beach

Mr. McCain's statement was made to convince fundamentalist Christians to vote for him.

He used the comment simply to gain support.

Though many came to America as Christians from Europe in other centuries, the flow of immigration has changed.

We are gradually becoming less of a Christian country of European descent because of current immigration.

Throughout the course of all elections, politicians must worry about voting blocs. As a conservative, he wants Christian fundamentalists to vote for him.

Voters can hardly be more committed to a single presidential party based on a single statement.

For example, a statement favorable to Israel, would sway voters to vote for the candidate that made that statement.

This was the statement, or "stunt" of a desperate candidate far behind in the polls who, if he fails to get the presidential nod, will probably angle for a vice-presidential spot on the ballot.

Rabbi Marc Rubenstein

Temple Isaiah

Newport Beach

Of course the United States was not founded as a Christian nation!

The founders may have been Christian, but they upheld the concept of religious freedom, which extends to religious diversity.

They were also white men, but that does not mean that they founded the country to be a white male nation.

If we think that their Christianity implies that they meant for our country to be a Christian nation, should we assume the same in regards to their gender and ethnicity?

Hopefully, we agree that is absurd.

I like to think they were wise enough to see the negative consequences of religious nations like the Holy Roman Empire and were intentional about keeping church and state separate.

As a Christian I feel it is important to state that his comment is not reflective of all Christians and is, quite frankly, offensive.

One can be Christian and think beyond a Christian nation.

Maybe John McCain can help all of us have conversations about what we really think, assume and espouse about the way we live our lives.

Rev. Sarah Halverson

Fairview Community Church

Costa Mesa


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