Presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain had his own share of faith-based courting on Tuesday when he met with the country's highest ranking Greek Orthodox leader.
On the same day Democratic rival Barack Obama met with about 30 Christian leaders, McCain held a private meeting with Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Church in America at the archdiocese's headquarters in New York City. The two talked about religious freedom, human rights, and social issues, according to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (GOAA).
Their conversation was a continuation of the one held last June, noted GOAA, when McCain had visited the archbishop when he was running for his party's nomination.
During the meeting, the two discussed national issues such as the economic hardships facing Americans, respect for all life, and the importance of education for all citizens. They also spoke about international topics such as legal protection for the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Turkey, and a solution for the Mediterranean country of Cyprus, whose northern third has been occupied by Turkey for three decades.
"As Archbishop, I feel a responsibility to pray for all our leaders and to encourage our Greek Orthodox Faithful to do likewise, as they participate in the political process granted to all Americans by our constitutionally protected freedoms," said Archbishop Demetrios in a statement after the meeting.
"Senator McCain is an honorable American who has demonstrated his heroism and love for this country," added the archbishop, who does not endorse political candidates.
In an election year where faith and politics has taken an unprecedented role in both parties, McCain has been conspicuously quiet on his own personal faith. A religious advisor to the McCain campaign in April told political correspondent David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network that the candidate felt "using your faith for election is wrong and that his faith is extremely private."
But his opponent, Barack Obama, has enthusiastically shared about his faith and sought to rectify the idea that Republicans are the only politicians who can speak about faith in politics.
On Tuesday, Obama met with prominent Christian leaders in Chicago for a closed-door meeting. Among the high-profile leaders present were Bishop T.D. Jakes of the Dallas megachurch The Potter's House, Rich Cizik of the National Association of Evangelicals, and Franklin Graham, son of renowned evangelist Billy Graham.
Political pundits have warned that McCain's refusal to talk about his faith could cost him voters, especially evangelicals – a critical voting bloc for the Republican Party.