At a January 1994 ceremony in Richmond, Virginia, to honor "Religious Freedom Day," Al Gore summarized his faith: "Like Jefferson, I believe that God is too powerful and mysterious to be contained within the rigid orthodoxy of any religious faith." As he has emerged from the lengthening shadows of the Clinton administration, Gore's ever-changing public persona has been the butt of talk-show comedy acts and has fogged his identity in opinion polls. But when it comes to religion, Gore seems to have settled comfortably into a progressive variation of Christianity. Christianity Today's interviews with close associates of Gore reveal a man driven to master his world internally and externally, and a politician who approaches public office with the pious vigor of a clergyman.

Always do right

From early childhood, Gore was conditioned to be spiritually bicultural. The Southern Baptist world in rural Tennessee rarely intersected with urban Washington, D.C., and its religiously elite Episcopalians. But the Gore family mastered both environments. Gore absorbed a stiff-upper-lip moralism at the select Episcopalian St. Albans School for boys on the grounds of the National Cathedral. Its spiritual leader, Canon Charles Martin, preached to his boys to always "choose the hard right over the easy wrong."Gore's capacity for self-discipline was remarkable even by the standards of St. Albans. "It was almost unnatural for a boy to be that well-behaved," recalls John C. Davis, a sacred-studies teacher. When the St. Albans bus broke down on a science field trip in 1958, many of the boys took a respite by running around in open fields. Gore approached science teacher Alexander Haslam, asking, "Sir, is this the time to be rowdy?" The boy's self-control ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

May
Subscribe to CT and get one year free.
Tags:
From Issue:
Read These Next
Also in this Issue
Finance: SBC Funding Imperiled Subscriber Access Only
Texas Baptists resolved reduce monies for SBC seminaries and programs.
TrendingForgiveness: Muslims Moved as Coptic Christians Do the Unimaginable
Forgiveness: Muslims Moved as Coptic Christians Do the Unimaginable
Amid ISIS attacks, faithful response inspires Egyptian society.
Editor's PickTogether for the Gospels
Together for the Gospels: Unprecedented Unity Among Bible Translators Transforms Giving
Lessons learned from illumiNations initiative could help other causes.
Christianity Today
The Transcendental Gore
hide thisOctober 23 October 23

In the Magazine

October 23, 2000

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.