On Sunday, April 13th, the Democratic Presidential candidates celebrated the Lord’s Day by participating in a “Compassion Summit” at Messiah College in Grantham, Pennsylvania.
In the course of the discussion, moderator Campbell Brown asked Senator Hillary Clinton about her intimate encounters with the Divine.
BROWN: Let's talk about your faith. And we warned people the questions tonight would be pretty personal. So I want to ask you. You said in an interview last year that you believe in the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. And you have actually felt the presence of the Holy Spirit on many occasions. Share some of those occasions with us.
CLINTON: You know, I have, ever since I've been a little girl, felt the presence of God in my life. And it has been a gift of grace that has, for me, been incredibly sustaining. But, really, ever since I was a child, I have felt the enveloping support and love of God and I have had the experiences on many, many occasions where I felt like the Holy Spirit was there with me as I made a journey.
From most commentators, Hillary received high marks for her thoughtful, surprisingly intimate answers to such questions. She seemed oddly more sincere and engaged in talking about faith than she does when she drones on, insufferably, in her robotic rants about policy.
Nevertheless, the generally positive reaction to her comments raises obvious questions about faith, Democrats and double standards.
Imagine that George W. Bush told a public forum that he had “felt the enveloping support and love of God” since childhood, and that on “many, many occasions” he “felt like the Holy Spirit was there with me.”
It’s not hard to imagine the derisive tabloid headlines: “Bush: God Is With Me” or “Prez Sees Spirits” or “W. Talks About His Imaginary Friend.” Howard Dean might comment: “It sounds like Bush is once again saying that he talks to God, so we better watch out. The last time that happened, he took us to a war based on false intelligence.”
Meanwhile, a few days after the get-together in Pennsylvania, the Seattle City Schools cooperated in releasing thousands of students from class and bussing them downtown to listen the largely unintelligible (but very charming) ramblings of the Dalai Lama addressing a huge crown in a basketball arena. The “strict separationists” who usually pitch tantrums at any introduction of religious ideas in government classrooms, somehow winked and shrugged at the use of school time and resources to expose students to the world’s most prominent Buddhist monk.
Why is it less controversial when liberals talk about their religious outlook than it is for conservatives to speak about our faith?