John Edwards and Religion


John Edwards grew up in a Baptist home. His father was a deacon at his church. Edwards lost his Baptist convictions in college; nevertheless, he and his wife Elizabeth attended church after they were married. His faith returned in 1996 when his teenage son was killed in a car accident. Later he became a member of a United Methodist Church in Raleigh, North Carolina.

John Edwards Quotes on His Personal Religion and Beliefs

"And I lost a son in 1996, and my faith came roaring back. And it played an enormous role in my ability to get through that period, and it stayed with me and has been enormously important." [7/9/04]

Edwards became a United Methodist and is a member of the Edenton Street Methodist Church in Raleigh, where he was also on the board of the faith-based Urban Ministries of Wake County. In Washington, he has attended the more liberal Metropolitan Memorial United Methodist Church. Edwards has also co-chaired the heavily evangelical National Prayer Breakfast, where he led a prayer in 2002." [7/9/04]

"I've done what I think a lot of Americans have done, which [is]: I was raised in a very Christian home and a Southern Baptist church, and baptized in the Southern Baptist church. My dad has been a deacon in the Southern Baptist church for many years. In fact, we went back to my church a few weeks ago and he was getting the Lay Person of the Year Award, which we were all very proud of him for.

"But when I went away to college, I drifted away from my faith. Even after Elizabeth and I got married, I had drifted away. It isn't that we didn't exercise faith. We would go to church, but it was not the sort of dominant day-to-day living faith that it is for me today. And in 1996, on a day I'll never forget, my 16 year old son died. And the days after that, when I was trying to survive and Elizabeth's trying to survive, my faith came roaring back and has stayed with me since that time, and helped me deal with the personal challenges we've had. Not only the death of my son, but some of the politics and the difficulty of that on our family. Elizabeth's breast cancer. All the things that we've seen, which is not that unusual for families." [3/07]

"It's a very dangerous business – that intersection [of religion and politics]. I don't like to talk about my faith openly. I do in answer to questions, but I don't usually bring it up myself. My belief in Christ plays an enormous role in the way I view the world. But I think I also understand the distinction between [my faith and] my job as president of the United States, my responsibility to be respectful of and to embrace all faith beliefs in this country. One of the problems that we've gotten into is some identification of the president of the United States with a particular faith belief as opposed to showing great respect for all faith beliefs." [9/20/07]

"There was a significant period of my life where I wasn't close to the Lord. I wasn't praying. I wasn't seeking His advice and counsel. I wasn't always looking to Him, saying, as I pray, to do His will and not my own. I became more interested in my own desires and will than His will. When Wade [his 16-year-old son] died, I was in intense pain and trying to deal with that pain and cope with it. It just came roaring back to me how much I was dependent on my faith, on God, and that I was not in control." [9/20/07]

References and Further Reading

  • "John Edwards and Religion." PBS Religion & Ethics Newsweekly, July 9, 2004.
  • David Kuo, "John Edwards: 'My Faith Came Roaring Back'." Beliefnet, March 2007.
  • Ariel Sabar, "John Edwards: Working-Class Values and a Closely-Held Faith." Christian Science Monitor, September 20, 2007.

John Edwards on Abortion

"On the issue of abortion, I think -- I believe in a woman's right to choose, but I think this is an extraordinarily difficult issue for America. And I think it is very important for the president of the United States to recognize, while I believe the government should not make these health-care decisions for women -- I believe they should have the freedom to make them themselves -- this is a very difficult issue for many people. And I think we have to show respect for people who have different views about this." [4/26/07]

Voted No on S.1692: "A bill to amend title 18, United States Code, to ban partial birth abortions." [10/21/99]

References and Further Reading

    - "Transcript: Democratic presidential debate in S.C." MSNBC, April 26, 2007. - "U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 106th Congress - 1st Session." U.S. Senate, October 21, 1999.
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