Failed presidential candidate and former first lady Hillary Clinton now has some interest in becoming a Methodist preacher, according to The Atlantic.
Clinton’s pastor Bill Shillady told The Atlantic that Clinton had expressed interest in preaching when he saw her at a photo shoot for his book Strong for a Moment Like This for which Clinton has written the foreward. The book features daily devotionals he sent her during the 2016 campaign.
“Clinton is lifting up an intimate, closely guarded part of herself,” Emma Green writes. “There are no more voters left to lose. In sharing her faith, perhaps Clinton sees something left to win, whether political or personal.”
Shillady says he wrote the book at Clinton’s suggestion and that Clinton and her staffers read and approved the copy ahead of time.
The book apparently offers a “rare window” into the way Scripture shaped Clinton on the campaign trail.
“Hillary Rodham grew up attending First United Methodist Church in the conservative suburb of Park Ridge, Illinois, often taking field trips into Chicago with her youth pastor to see figures like Martin Luther King Jr.,” Green notes. “While other girls were flipping through beauty mags, she was reading about Vietnam and poverty in a now-defunct magazine for Methodist students called motive.”
Such moving imagery recalls to mind the image of Chelsea Clinton who also eschewed flipping through beauty mags to write a letter at age five to then President Reagan to voice her “opposition to his visit to the Bitburg cemetery in Germany, because Nazis were buried there.”
“I didn’t think an American president should honor a group of soldiers that included Nazis. President Reagan still went, but at least I had tried in my own small way,” she earnestly recalled in her book It’s Your World (Get Informed! Get Inspired! Get Going!).
Political awareness and patriotism at a tender age must run in the Clinton family.
“Hillary finds it hard to talk about religion a lot,” Mike McCurry, Bill Clinton’s former press secretary said. She “comes from the Methodist tradition, which, like many more liberal, mainstream Protestant denominations, is a little more buttoned up.”
Yes, Clinton’s inability to discuss religion was very evident on the 2016 campaign trail when 43 percent of voters did not believe she was religious.
Clinton also frequently declined interviews with faith based publications and reportedly didn’t hire a full-time faith outreach director until June 2016. She also had no one focused specifically on evangelical outreach. White evangelicals make up one quarter of the electorate.
“Not to have anyone reaching out to a quarter of the electorate is political malpractice,” the Obama campaign’s 2012 faith outreach director, Michael Wear, told Slate following the election.
Shillady acknowledged that Clinton could have talked about her faith more on the campaign trail but said commentators ignored that aspect of her identity. “It’s been there all along,” he said. “The general public didn’t necessarily want to accept the fact that she’s a Christian because there’s so many critics out there about the Clintons.”
Clinton “doesn’t wear her religion on her sleeve,” according to Shillady, “she just practices it. She follows the edict of what’s attributed to St. Francis: ‘Preach the gospel always, and if you need to, use words.’”
One wonders how Clinton “just practices” the teachings of the United Methodist Church (UMC) that “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching” and “we support laws in civil society that define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.”
Apparently she practices this teaching by publicly and repeatedly avowing support for same-sex marriage.
“Given her depth of knowledge of the Bible and her experience of caring for people and loving people, she’d make a great pastor,” Shillady told Green.
He said that Clinton is not likely to pursue an official lay position in the Methodist church but that “it would be more of … her guest preaching at some point.”
“We have a long history of lay preachers in the United Methodist Church,” Shillady said.
At least Clinton could still opine on causes that are dear to her like access to late-term abortion and the continued taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood, an organization that performed 328,348 abortions last year.
She is surely aware, however, that the UMC recently decided to leave the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC), a pro-abortion organization, with Delegates voting 425-268 to leave the group and some Delegates commenting that “abortion is murder.”
“Maybe after all these years of hard-scrabble politics,” Green concludes, “Clinton is finally becoming a more straightforward version of herself: a woman whose fondest ambition is teaching scripture in church.”