Thompson cites ‘good Church of Christ’ upbringing but doesn’t attend regularly
“I guess I’m one of those people who feel a little uncomfortable getting too inside your person and personality, but I understand it’s necessary,” Thompson, 65, was quoted as saying in the Spartanburg, S.C., Herald-Journal. “I’m doing the best I can with it, because I don’t hold myself out to be a perfect person. I’ve not always met the standard that I’ve set for myself, but I know that I’m right with God and I’m right with the people I love, and the people I love are right with me.”
The comments, made to a South Carolina audience and reporters after a campaign event, came after months of speculation and questions about Thompson’s ties to Churches of Christ.
In March, Thompson’s faith became an issue in the national media when Focus on the Family founder James Dobson said he didn’t think the former Tennessee senator, most recently a television and movie actor, was a Christian. The comment, published in U.S. News, appeared to throw cold water on a Thompson candidacy.
Thompson spokesman Mark Corallo said countered afterward: “Thompson is indeed a Christian. He was baptized into the Church of Christ.”
The issue of Thompson’s faith was discussed in the media for several weeks during the spring and again has resurfaced since Thompson announced his bid for the Republican presidential nomination on Sept. 5.
The Chronicle first reported in March about Thompson’s religious background after interviewing those who knew him as a youth in Tennessee.
David Pinckley, treasurer of the Pulaski Street Church of Christ in Thompson’s hometown of Lawrenceburg, Tenn., said the two grew up together.
“We went to school together, played football, went to church for many years here in Lawrenceburg,” Pinckley told the Chronicle.
Pinckley said the two were baptized around the same time, around 1951-1952.
The actor and politician lists Church of Christ as his religion on official biographies, including the 106th Congressional Record. His political Web site credits his attendance at the First Street church in Lawrenceburg, Tenn., with helping to teach him the importance of “family, hard work, faith and education.”
He helped establish a scholarship fund to honor his parents in 1997, when he donated a speaking fee earned at a fund-raising dinner at Freed-Hardeman University in Henderson, Tenn., to create an endowed scholarship for history and political science students.
Thompson said he isn’t a member of a congregation in the Washington suburb of McLean, Va., where he now lives with his wife and two young children. But he said he does worship with his mother at the Brentwood, Tenn., church when he visits her in nearby Franklin.
At home in Virginia, Thompson said he sometimes attends the Vienna, Va., Presbyterian Church with his wife, Jeri Kehn.
A Gallup Poll in May 2006 said individuals who listed their religion as Church of Christ were more likely to attend worship regularly than any other religious group.
Sixty-eight percent of Church of Christ members interviewed by Gallup said they attend worship services at least once a week or almost every week, according to a poll released last year.
Sept. 14, 2007