[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/07/mccain.religous.jpg caption="John McCain during a rally on Monday at the University of New Mexico."]
John McCain has finally begun to talk his walk with Jesus. Until recently, the details about the Republican presidential nominee's Christian convictions were missing in action. Starting this summer, McCain and some of his closest Vietnam War-era buddies began pulling back the narrative curtain.
These war stories reveal McCain's stoic, generically Christian spirituality and his honor-driven self-discipline. During his five-plus years as a prisoner in Hanoi, McCain had many defining religious moments. One Sunday in 1971, the North Vietnamese Communists decided to put an end to the church services being held by the prisoners. They burst into Room 7 and dragged McCain out. "Bud Day [commander among the prisoners] jumped up and sang 'God Bless America.' It was singing to the heavens," recalled fellow prisoner Orson Swindle in a recent interview with Christianity Today. "The Vietnamese dragged Day out and someone else jumped up." Next, Swindle and others started loudly singing, "Onward Christian Soldiers." That provoked a squad of armed soldiers to rush in and shut down the service completely. McCain was thrown into solitary confinement.
The prisoners' Christmas celebration that year proved to be another defining experience for McCain. For weeks, prisoners had demanded an English-language Bible to conduct a proper Christmas observance. The guards eventually relented and allowed one prisoner access to a Bible for 30 minutes. McCain was chosen. Using tiny pieces of broken pencil lead, McCain copied the Nativity story down on scrap paper. And on the evening of December 25, 1971, the prisoners held their service with the Lord's Prayer and Christmas carols as McCain recounted the birth of Christ. At the end, all sang, with much weeping, "Silent Night."
Filed under: John McCain
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
Questions or comments? Send an email
Want to know more? Go behind the scenes with