After her second failed attempt at the presidency, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton may be gunning for ministry. A book presenting her daily devotions on the campaign trail suggests a more faith-based career path may be in Clinton’s future.
“Hillary Clinton wants to preach. That’s what she told Bill Shillady, her longtime pastor, at a recent photo shoot for his new book about the daily devotionals he sent her during the 2016 campaign,” The Atlantic’s Emma Green reported. Shillady’s book about Clinton’s devotions, Strong for a Moment Like This: The Daily Devotions of Hillary Clinton, releases later this month. Clinton herself wrote the forward.
Green also noted that “scattered bits of reporting suggest that ministry has always been a secret dream of the two-time presidential candidate: Last fall, the former Newsweek editor Kenneth Woodward revealed that Clinton told him in 1994 that she thought ‘all the time’ about becoming an ordained Methodist minister. She asked him not to write about it, though: ‘It will make me seem much too pious.'”
“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 The Atlantic. Shillady did not predict that the former secretary of State would go to seminary or pursue an official lay position in the Methodist Church, but he did suggest she might preach.
“I think it would be more of … her guest preaching at some point,” the pastor said. “We have a long history of lay preachers in the United Methodist Church.”
Strong for a Moment Like This chronicles Shillady’s practice of sending Clinton sections of scripture in a devotional every morning. Sometimes, he asked other pastors to contribute to the project, and he enlisted the more than 100 women clergy who formed a group called “We Pray with Her.”
The pastor has also included segments of his email correspondence with Clinton, including her responses to a new prayer or parable. For instance, in Clinton’s concession speech, she quoted a verse from Galatians, saying, “Let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season, we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Galatians 6:9). Shillady had sent her that verse in a devotional a few weeks earlier.
Many Americans don’t see Clinton as a particularly religious person, Green admitted. During her husband’s presidency, Clinton’s religious speeches brought the ire of progressives, while conservatives doubted her sincerity. During the 2016 campaign, she would discuss prayer and faith at black churches, but largely avoided a religious message.
“Hillary finds it hard to talk about religion a lot,” Mike McCurry, who served as Bill Clinton’s press secretary during the early Monica Lewinsky scandal, told The Atlantic. Clinton “comes from the Methodist tradition, which, like many more liberal, mainstream Protestant denominations, is a little more buttoned up.”
The denomination’s emphasis on social justice might have contributed to that “buttoned up” quality. Many churches that emphasize political change can do so at the expense of the gospel message of Jesus Christ. While Christianity should encourage justice and mercy outside the church, its primary goal is the salvation of souls, not the election of certain candidates.
But no matter how much Clinton believes the gospel in her personal life, current Democratic politics may have encouraged her not to emphasize her faith on the stump. “The challenge was a little less with the campaign and more with the progressive infrastructure,” Joshua DuBois, who led faith outreach for the 2008 Obama campaign, told The Atlantic.
Clinton’s supporters “too often felt like there had to be a binary choice between engaging religious Americans and Secretary Clinton being a strong progressive.”
That indeed seems the crux of the matter. The current progressive/Democratic agenda of unfettered support for abortion, an unquestioning embrace of LGBT ideology, and utter demonization of anyone who disagrees as a racist, sexist, homophobic bigot slams traditional Christians perhaps hardest of all.
In endorsing this agenda, Clinton has made enemies of conservative Christians. In a speech in December 2011, she openly compared religious opposition to the LGBT agenda to honor killings, widow burning, and female genital mutilation. Last July, she condemned conscience protections as an effort “to discriminate against LGBT people under the guise of protecting religious freedom.”
The painful tragedy in Clinton’s rhetoric is that her “progressive” agenda completely ignores — and indeed calls for the “punishing” of — committed Christians like Washington state florist Barronelle Stutzman, Oregon bakers Aaron and Melissa Klein, Michigan farmers Steve and Bridget Tennes, Colorado baker Jack Philips (whose case will come before the Supreme Court), and many others.
What do all these people have in common? They are committed Christians who, for reasons of faith, refused to extend their services to a same-sex wedding, despite their history of gladly serving LGBT people in other settings. Each of them were targeted for “discriminating” against gay people for their decision not to partake in a public event solemnizing something they believe to not be a marriage.
It may be ironic that nearly half of Americans described Clinton — a lifelong Methodist — as “not very” or “not at all” religious, while some seemed more willing to believe Donald Trump is a Christian, although he has yet to publicly profess Jesus as his Lord and Savior, according to Erick Erickson.
But then again, if Clinton were a devoted Christian, she might think twice about pushing the LGBT narrative or endorsing abortion as a positive good. She might have been a bit harsher on her husband when he violated their sacred covenant by sleeping with other women.
It is impossible to judge the heart of Hillary Clinton, and in a more liberal church like the United Methodist denomination, her politics may be a good fit for the pulpit. But Americans have questioned her Christianity for good reasons, and many churchgoers would be quite concerned to hear pastor Hillary step up to the podium.