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'Right With God'
But Not Churchgoer
Says Thompson

Chalk it up as another quirk of the 2008 GOP presidential field: The top-tier Repubican who entered the race as the supposed godsend for socially conservative voters in the Bible Belt who are dissatisfied with the other candidates is someone who does not attend church on a regular basis.

Asked about his religious beliefs during an appearance before about 500 Republicans in South Carolina yesterday, Fred Thompson said he attends church when he visits his mother in Tennessee but does not belong to a church or attend regularly at his home in McLean, Va., just outside Washington. The actor and former senator, who was baptized in the Church of Christ, said he gained his values from "sitting around the kitchen table" and said he did not plan to speak about his religious beliefs on the stump. "I know that I'm right with God and the people I love," he said, according to Bloomberg News Service. It's "just the way I am not to talk about some of these things."

Making Thompson's church avoidance in McLean all the more interesting is that there is no shortage of religious options in the town for the GOP elite, who dominate the Sunday morning scene in the upscale suburb. There is McLean's Trinity United Methodist Church, where the pastor is Kathleene Card, wife of former Bush chief of staff Andrew Card. There is McLean Bible Church, the evangelical mega-church that looms near the Beltway in a $90 million complex, where the many Republican dignitaries in attendance have included Clinton nemesis Ken Starr, and senators current and former James Inhofe, Dan Coats and Don Nickles. There are also plenty of bold-faced sightings at nearby Vienna Presbyterian, and in fact Thompson and his wife Jeri have on occasion been glimpsed there, sparking on-line speculation about whether he had simply switched denominations.

But the candidate put such speculation to rest yesterday. And he did not seem particularly concerned that his admission would hurt him with voters. "Me getting up and talking about what a wonderful person I am and that sort of thing, I'm not comfortable with that, and I don't think it does me any good," he said. "People will make up their own mind about that, and that's the way I like it."

--Alec MacGillis

By Washington Post editors  |  September 11, 2007; 7:39 PM ET
 
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Comments

As a Catholic in a Protestant country, I find FT's statement inoffensive and mildly reasurring. The comments above display the tendency to self-righteousness and pridefulness often spawned by this "justification by faith alone" notion...people seem to be saying ":I'm saved/good because I say so". The post-Christian desecendents of American Protestants display the same tendency. After all what is political correctness and why do we go on and on about self-esteem?

As a practical matter, I bet FT who was raised in the C of C learned the same 10 commandments and moral precepts as me and I'm glad he acknowledges them. Who is the post or anti-Christian candidate, you liberals? Clinton, Obama and Edwards campaign in churches and profess to love Jesus all the time. I think we all know, Fred means what he says and the Dems are lying to fool a segment of their base (the gullible Amercian community).

Posted by: cyclonezz | December 7, 2007 7:05 AM | Report abuse

The words of the Bible telling you what you want to hear?

Well the C of C doesn't make the words fit into anything. The Bible needs no interpritation if you read it the way it is. Why take any chances with your life? Better to error on the side of caution.

Being right with God does not mean you never sin... for we are all sinners. Pick up your Bible and read it with no dictionary or outside influence and see what the LORD has to say.

For the record though I do believe the Bible puts great importance on attending the temple of God.

Posted by: amkkmorris | September 30, 2007 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Wow... I didn't thoroughly preview before posting...please disregard the previous post I left. Thanks.

This may be very late. But with regard to the church of Christ being a denomination...I have to disagree. Church of Christ denotes a seperate entity, a distinction, a proper noun. It is the church of Christ (that is the way it is spelled). Where "church of" are simply identifying words that show ownership by Christ. For example, "a shirt of Kelli's" is the same thing as "Kelli's shirt". This is why many Chrisitians simply say "I am a member of Christ's church" or "a member of the church of Christ."People that are not aware use CoC. You want further proof check out Romans 16:16.

Further, the Old Testament was binding for the Jews;the New Testament is what Christ gave us. The Old Testament prefaced (set the stage for) the New Testament. Christ rose on the third day. The apostles came together at the beginning of the week, they did not forsake the fellowship (coming together with other Christians). We are to follow the examples of the apostles (Jews and Gentiles alike). So I'm going to pray for my brother in Christ...Mr. Thompson.


Posted by: olorosa02 | September 18, 2007 3:37 PM | Report abuse

This may be very late. But with regard to the church of Christ being a denomination...I have to disagree. Church of Christ denotes a seperate entity, a distinction, a proper noun. It is the church of Christ (that is the way it is spelled). It simply an identifying word that shows ownership by Christ. For example, "a shirt of Kelli's" is the same thing as "Kelli's shirt". This is why many Chrisitians simply I am a member of Christ's church or a member of the church of Christ. People that are not aware use CoC. You want further proof check out Romans 16:16.

Further, the Old testament was binding for the Jews, the new testament is what Christ gave us. The Old Testament prefaced (set the stage for) the New Testament. Christ rose on the third day. The apostles came together at the beginning of the week, they did not forsake the fellowship (coming together with other Christians). We are to follow the examples of the apostles (Jews and Gentiles alike). So I'm going to pray for my brother in Christ...Mr. Thompson.

Posted by: olorosa02 | September 18, 2007 3:33 PM | Report abuse

I hope Fred visits his mother every Sunday.
God gave his laws to Moses. One of these laws says to remember the Sabbath. This means that out of every seven days one must be given to God. Most of the Christian churches have chosen to designate Sunday as that day. I don't believe God is right with any one who ignores his laws.

Posted by: gcking | September 14, 2007 11:51 AM | Report abuse

DonSwitzer posted the following:

In a letter by James Madison to William Bradford of April 1, 1774, the future President Madison set forth the reasoning behind the "Separation between Church and State" which was supposed to be one of the fundamental building blocks of our representative democracy ever since that early date. He stated to his friend and fellow patriot (rebels at the time), " Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise....During almost fifteen centuries...has the legal establishment of
Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in both superstition, bigotry and persecution."

The actual, full quote says:

"Because experience witnesseth that eccelsiastical establishments, instead of maintaining the purity and efficacy of Religion, have had a contrary operation. During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution. Enquire of the Teachers of Christianity for the ages in which it appeared in its greatest lustre; those of every sect, point to the ages prior to its incorporation with Civil policy. Propose a restoration of this primitive State in which its Teachers depended on the voluntary rewards of their flocks, many of them predict its downfall. On which Side ought their testimony to have greatest weight, when for or when against their interest?"

By the way, none of the founding fathers used the statement "seperation of church and state." Study your history more. If somehow I am mistaken and one of them did use it, he is a minority hardly worth mentioning in light of what the others said.

Anyway, it is clear from the context that Madison objected to the "legal establishment of Christianity" - not to Christianity itself, which he indicates has "efficacy." Madison had some other things to say about religion and Christianity in this very same document:

"It is the duty of every man to render to the Creator such homage and such only as he believes to be acceptable to him"

and...

"Before any man can be considered as a member of Civil Society, he must be considered as a subject of the Governour of the Universe"

And, in response to a proposed law, he objected "Because the policy of the Bill is adverse to the diffusion of the light of Christianity." Diffusion means spread. James Madison advocated the spread of Christianity.

DonSwitzer also posted:

Madison's greatest fears in this respect(and those of Jefferson and Washington as well)have come to pass because as time has gone by, as this country has become "shackled" by Christianity, and one's public professed beliefs in Christ has become a "litmus test" for one's fitness for public office. This is heresy of the reverse sort, and it is a despicable persecution.
This is all made so much more fearful by the rise of the "Religious Right" and its pride and arrogance which have permeated the political thought process in the last twenty years at least.

Please. The "Religious Right" is scary? It's only scary because you've been taught to fear it. Think about it. When is the last time you've ever read about "left-wing extremists" in the media? Look around. You, the left, are in charge. Of course you won't read about "left-wing extremists." The right, although arguably comprising the majority of American citizens, is not in charge. The rise of the religious right is a counterrevolution to the rise of the secular left. Are you surprised that there should be an equal and opposite reaction for every action?

...or are you scared because you know this is a democracy, and we just might be the majority? If I were you, I'd hurry up and establish that oligarchy you seem to be working, you know, the one led by "experts" in the media, education, and entertainment industries? Trust me, you won't win using the American brand of democracy. It has deep ties to a spiritual/religious past.

Try another strategy to conquer us, such as brainwashing the masses, occupying the people you will rule with sex and drugs so they have no reason to revolt, or my personal favorite, the time-honored tradition of toasting your opposition by sheer force. What? Sound too barbaric? According to some of you, religion is supposedly destroying the world, literally. Get some guts. If someone is bent on destroying the world, don't just sit there complacently. Act on your convictions. Destroy us by any means possible. Again, we dare you. It's been tried before. Starve us out with censorship and persecution of the Orwellian kind, i.e. mind games? It's been tried before. Everything has been tried before, and we're still here. But there's nothing that says you can't try again.

But before you decide to wage your little war with us and free us from the "shackles" of Christianity, consider what Thomas Jefferson said about a world without religion:

"Twenty times in the course of my late reading have I been on the point of breaking out, 'This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion at all!!!' But in this exclamation I would have been as fanatical as Bryant or Cleverly. Without religion, this world would be something not fit to be mentioned in polite company, I mean hell."

Oh, and John Adams had this to say:

"The Christian religion, in its primitive purity and simplicity, I have entertained for more than sixty years. It is the religion of reason, equity, and love; it is the religion of the head and the heart."

If you choose to fight against religion, do us all a favor, don't look for allies among the founding fathers. You won't find any, unless you misquote horribly out of context. Stop pretending that your secular dream is built on the founding principles of this country. It's blatantly apparent that your vision is new and contrary to the American philosophy.

So, I beg you, all you Dawkinists, Hitchenists, and practitioners of Harissism, stop being wishy-washy wimps. You think religion is foolish and dangerous? Campaign to ban and eradicate it. Convinced that the majority of Americans are ignorant? Block their vote and seize power yourself. What's stopping you? What holds you back? Don't tell me you still entertain concepts of objective morality? If you can do it, get away with it, and benefit, who cares about the people you step on to get there? After all, aren't they just animals, or rather, objects to appease your need for pleasure? Why defy the selfish gene, as Dawkins calls it? If you are an illusion of random genes, how can you know that in trying to overcome them, you are merely acting out the script they set for you?

If you must insist on fighting us, at least try and offer us an intelligent opponent to contend with. Contrary to popular belief, we really do enjoy a challenge.

Bring your darkness, your so-called "enlightenment." Liberate us by abolishing all objective truth. I dare you. We're ready to fight you all the way. And we'll win, just like last time, and the time before that, and so on.

-- A message from the Religious Right.

Posted by: esran | September 13, 2007 10:32 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like Fred learned the Rove lesson well. Playing to your base.

Oh by the way, whatever happened to Tom DeLay.

Posted by: jlspruill | September 12, 2007 8:51 PM | Report abuse

It would appear that Fred is not a Jesus Freak. If not, how is he going to get Jesus Freaks to vote for him? Regards, Carl W. Lundquist, JD, Colonel, Army of the United States (Retired) ...... Boston

Posted by: cwlund | September 12, 2007 7:24 PM | Report abuse

This is one of the goofiest articles I've yet read.

One would think that before commenting on Thompson's "church-going," Mr. MacGillis would have at least done some cursory research on the Churches of Christ. To my understanding, there is no duty to attend services in C-of-C theology; also, they don't consider themselves a "denomination" since they are loosely affiliated autonomous congregations.

But stranger yet is Mr. MacGillis' reference to "religious options"--as if choosing to attend one church or another were no different than going to this-or-that restaurant.

Here's a request to all journalistic pontificators--if you're not going to bother to become educated about religion, don't embarrass yourselves by commenting on religious matters.

Posted by: manfelice | September 12, 2007 4:12 PM | Report abuse

I was pleased that Fred Thompson did not jump at the chance to put his faith in the forefront of his campaign/platform. I think conservatives who feel the need to do that really alienate a lot of moderates. I feel very similar in his sentiments. I try to "be right with God" also but am not one to proselytize to others especially in the context of a political discussion. The separation of church and state is one of the great tenets of our country and I respect that Fred Thompson seems to understand that. For any who disagree I challenge them to show me in history when any state ruled by religion has done the good of the people. Faith is a beautiful and wonderful thing. Religion is where it starts to get dangerous because you involve imperfect humans. Too many tragedies in history have been committed in the name of god. Let's leave god out of it and do what we know is right.

Big props for Fred Thompson on this.

Posted by: kristina.benoit | September 12, 2007 4:10 PM | Report abuse

".....I fear if we don't get our heads out of our ass (and out of the mainstream media circus of delusion) soon it may be too late."

When I saw that Fred was mentioned as a member of the Church of Christ, I had to put my 2 cents in. To those that theologically disagree with my point of view, I can defend every page of the New Testament with my less than perfect understanding (to God be the Glory!), thanks to the clear teaching of the C of C.

Liberals don't like happy, contented people, and that includes most evangelical Christians, cuz we are converted, happy and have a mission. We don't bother anyone but we do exercise or rights, to the annoyance of the Intolerant Left.

Fred is going to re-invent political campaigning if he keeps to the current path; He will stand up for his personal beliefs without forcing them onto others; simply professing his beliefs drives the looney-left nuts.

Keep it up Fred, don't be dissuaded by all the personal attacks, cuz the Clintons say if it's your personal life it's off limits, so we can rest assurred the Mainstream Media will leave your young wife and ex-girlfriends alone, right?

GO FRED!

Stuart K.
Florida

Stuart K.

Posted by: stuartk7070 | September 12, 2007 1:17 PM | Report abuse

I'm always somewhat amused by these "Bible Christians" arguing over whose interpretation of "the Word" is correct. If "the Word" brings 1,000 different messages to 1,000 different people, does "the Word" have multiple personality disorder? In fact, the Word was Jesus Christ, and he founded a Church on Peter and Peter brought that Church to Rome. Jesus gave Peter "the keys to the kingdom of heaven" and assured him: "Whatsoever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven and whatsoever you loose on earth will be loosened in heaven." That Church still exists today and is lead by the successor of St. Peter, Pope Benedict XVI. Yet each "believer" with his Bible under his arm and denies the authority of the successor of St. Peter makes himself his own Pope, so instead of one authority, there are about 100,000,000 popes! Logic alone tells us which path is true and sensible.

Posted by: wmass | September 12, 2007 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Not sure Rudy Giuliani will get too far with this race, he messed up on 9/11. One can also say that Fred Thompson is locking it up with the Christian movement.

If the primaries were held today, and the nominees for the Republican party were Rudy Giuliani & Fred Thompson, who would you vote for..... -------------------------------------------------> http://www.youpolls.com/details.asp?pid=466

Posted by: PollM | September 12, 2007 11:38 AM | Report abuse

In a letter by James Madison to William Bradford of April 1, 1774, the future President Madison set forth the reasoning behind the "Separation between Church and State" which was supposed to be one of the fundamental building blocks of our representative democracy ever since that early date. He stated to his friend and fellow patriot (rebels at the time), " Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise....During almost fifteen centuries...has the legal establishment of
Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in both superstition, bigotry and persecution."
Madison's greatest fears in this respect(and those of Jefferson and Washington as well)have come to pass because as time has gone by, as this country has become "shackled" by Christianity, and one's public professed beliefs in Christ has become a "litmus test" for one's fitness for public office. This is heresy of the reverse sort, and it is a despicable persecution.
This is all made so much more fearful by the rise of the "Religious Right" and its pride and arrogance which have permeated the political thought process in the last twenty years at least.
One line from Jefferson's litter to the Danbury (Conn.) Baptist Association of January 1, 1802, is very much on point, viz., "...religion is a matter which lies solely betweeen man and his God, that he owes account to to none other for his faith or his worship..."
I do not know whether Fred Thompson should or should not be the next President, but I do know very well that we cannot be a People slavish to the views of Pat Robertson, the deceased Jerry Falwell, John Hagee, Joel Osteen and persons of like mind--including Newt Gingrich and other politicians who wear their religion on their sleeves. Such persons use their professed religion as a weapon--not as a means of assuring love, civility and kindless among the People. To some extent Karl Rove took advantage of the followers of such people and then threw them aside after having "used them" in two elections. I thank my God that Rove and Bush did that and did as little damage as they did in this particular respect. And partially ignoring the people they duped (although I hate the way this might sound) is the only action those two people ever took with which I agree.
And I believe Fred Thompson has it right on this point, too: that is, his religious views are his business--not ours.
Don Switzer

Posted by: DonSwitzer | September 12, 2007 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Seems you all are a bunch of monkeys taking the bait and running with it. Who CARES if Fred does/or does not go to church? What does this have to do with anything?

Will it save an American Troop overseas?
Will it strengthen our economy? Will it make our country Safer? Will it stop Global Warming?

WAKE UP PEOPLE! Distractions from what matters are everywhere - Avoid falling into the traps. Use your brain, your voice and your Vote! Forget about the menial crap- we need to get Back to Basics and down to business!

I fear if we don't get our heads out of our ass (and out of the mainstream media circus of delusion) soon it may be too late.

Posted by: tonipmct | September 12, 2007 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Somehow it seems that the people in the New Testament who were POSITIVE they were "right with God" were the Pharisees. Jesus seemed to approve more of those who were humble, and aware of their own shortcomings.

Posted by: dn1021 | September 12, 2007 10:19 AM | Report abuse

For over 20 years, including during his marriage (according to his ex-wife) Fred has been womanizing. He does not attend church, except when mommy makes him go. And now, he is "right with God."

Some of the Christian right, in its desperation for a conservative savior, seems to be engaging in mental gymnastics in order to find Fred acceptable. They already have a candidate who is brilliant, successful and lives a squeaky clean life, but because he is the wrong denomination, they reject him. Face it, Fred Thompson is does not walk the walk, nor has he ever. He is not your savior any more than Newt Gingrich is.

Posted by: sharkaroo | September 12, 2007 8:57 AM | Report abuse

"Yes, I know I am saved and right with God, the Bible tells me so...Ephesians 2:8-10 (below). I don't need the phone book, the dictionary, or some secular icon to know about God..I just refer to his inerrant Word."

Yes, Stuart. The Bible is always right when it validates our own views, isn't it? Of course it says you're right with God. I wouldn't expect you to see it any differently.

Amazing how these googly-eyed zealots can always ascertain what God is thinking - just by co-opting whatever is written to their own situation. Convenient, and self-validating too.

Posted by: tone57 | September 12, 2007 7:15 AM | Report abuse

re: The C of C IS a denomination. Instead of your bible, check a dictionary once in a while.

You place your salvation in a dictionary, I'll place my salvation in the Word of God.

I refer you to Eph 3:21 "church" + "Christ Jesus"

To those that may struggle with someone 'knowing they are right with God' I suggest you read your history of Presidents, startig with Washington, Lincoln, T. Roosevelt. If you're offended by Fred today, you REALLY would be offended by those previous dead white guys that built this nation and helped make it the greatest nation on earth that has freed more people in all of history and that has relinquished the lands that it conquered.

Yes, I know I am saved and right with God, the Bible tells me so...Ephesians 2:8-10 (below). I don't need the phone book, the dictionary, or some secular icon to know about God..I just refer to his inerrant Word.

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-
not by works, so that no one can boast.For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."

Stuart K.
Florida

Posted by: stuartk7070 | September 12, 2007 6:39 AM | Report abuse

Better would have been "I try to be right with God". His actual statement reminds me of a Pharisee with a vary large stole with the fringe on top.

Fred might consider that, according to the Bible, being in community with other believers (AKA "going to church") is part of being right with God. Fred should certainly sit down at the kitchen table and talk to his mother about that aspect of our shared Christian faith.

Posted by: unclesmrgol | September 11, 2007 11:44 PM | Report abuse

The C of C IS a denomination. Instead of your bible, check a dictionary once in a while. It has a name that distinguishes it and an official teaching so it is, by definition, a "denomination". If Jesus Christ was still physically alive and physically visible and tangible in the pulpit every Sunday at the C of C it would STILL be a "denomination". Jeez-Lou-eeze !

Posted by: moronpolitics | September 11, 2007 11:04 PM | Report abuse

He's "right with God"? Do we have a comment from God yet? Is he "right with Fred"?

Posted by: moronpolitics | September 11, 2007 11:00 PM | Report abuse

He's "right with God"? Do we have a comment from God yet? Is he "right with Fred"?

Posted by: moronpolitics | September 11, 2007 11:00 PM | Report abuse

All the religious 501s and their universities care about is access to the white house. it is the top reason that de minimis fred is in the race.

Posted by: mikeVA1 | September 11, 2007 10:48 PM | Report abuse

Fred was raised in the Church of Christ...if you are in the C of C, you know whether you are right with God or not, cuz you are brought to Christ via The Word, not man's teaching.

A note to the illiterate of God Post writer, the Church of Christ is NOT a denomination, it's as close to the Apostles' teaching in the New Testament as there is.

Doubt me, check it out.

Stuart K.
Florida

Posted by: stuartk7070 | September 11, 2007 10:32 PM | Report abuse

"I know that I'm right with God..."

Just like GW Bush. And just like David Vitter, who announced that God had forgiven him. Amazing how Republicans know the mind of God.

Poor old God can't keep even his innermost thoughts secret from holy men like Thompson and Vitter.

Posted by: Bud0 | September 11, 2007 9:39 PM | Report abuse

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