John Kerry's Open Mind
The candidate has roots in liberal Catholicism, establishment Protestantism, and secular idealism.
October 1, 2004
Christianity Today's profiles of this year's election candidates will continue tomorrow with an article on George W. Bush's need to retain the evangelical vote.
Whatever comment you make about John Kerry's Christianity, it will fit somewhere in the spiritual timeline of his life.
Critics say Kerry, a Roman Catholic, has all the form and ritual of religion but almost none of the doctrine. Others see a selfless public servant of iron-clad Christian conscience unafraid to stand his ground on moral issues in opposition to a cardinal or bishop.
The image-buffers in the Democratic presidential campaign don't often allow a spiritual light to shine very far into the interior of John Kerry. But on occasion, Kerry himself opens up. A few months back, as his presidential campaign plane flew over Oregon's Hood River, he stared out the window. Later at an outdoor rally, he exclaimed,
"I was flying down the Hood River and the gorges. I was thinking: God! I need to get back here!
"I was planning on doing a little windsurfing."
Kerry was on his Wheels Up for a Stronger America tour. During a three-day, five-event swing through the Pacific Northwest, during which Christianity Today trailed the Kerry campaign, this was the only time the candidate invoked God's name publicly.
For Kerry, windsurfing is one measure of his spirituality. In a 1998 interview with American Windsurfer, he said windsurfing is more spiritually fulfilling than playing hockey because windsurfing "allows nature to play with you in ways that nature doesn't involve itself with a hockey game."
In that interview, Kerry provided some of his most detailed public comments about his theological ideals:
"I'm a Catholic and I practice, but at the same time I have an open-mindedness to ...