Arizonan doesn't want Muslim in White House;
Mormon would be OK
New York Daily News
Sept. 29, 2007 12:00 AM
NEW YORK - GOP presidential candidate John McCain says
America is better off with a Christian president, and
he doesn't want a Muslim in the Oval Office.
"I admire the Islam. There's a lot of good principles
in it," he said. "But I just have to say in all candor
that since this nation was founded primarily on
Christian principles, personally, I prefer someone who
I know who has a solid grounding in my faith."
In a wide-ranging interview about religion and faith
with the Web site Beliefnet, McCain said he wouldn't
"rule out under any circumstance" someone who wasn't
Christian, but said, "I just feel that that's an
important part of our qualifications to lead."
A Mormon such as rival candidate Mitt Romney, he said,
would be OK.
"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," he said.
McCain later clarified his remarks, saying, "I would
vote for a Muslim if he or she was the candidate best
able to lead the country and to defend our political
A Muslim rights group ripped the Arizona Republican's
"That kind of attitude goes against the American
tradition of religious pluralism and inclusion," said
Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on
He urged McCain to "clarify his remarks" and "stress
his acceptance of political candidates of any faith."
The Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish advocacy group,
could not be reached for comment because its offices
were closed for the Sukkoth holiday.
In the interview, the senator also said the
"Constitution established the United States of America
as a Christian nation."
There is no mention of God, Jesus or Christ in the
The interview, which included the revelation that
McCain is talking to his pastor about undergoing a
full-immersion baptism after the campaign, sent
Beliefnet's irreverent "God-o-meter" spinning.
"How can the religious right hate this guy?" the site
Beliefnet columnist David Kuo said McCain was
"pandering to what he thinks the Christian
conservative community wants to hear" and predicted he
"will have a lot of explaining to do about this
The remarks came as he was starting to show gains in
McCain alienated evangelical voters in 2000 when he
branded the Revs. Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell
"agents of intolerance."