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JewishJournal.com

July 10, 2007

Hillary Clinton on faith

http://www.jewishjournal.com/blog/item/hillary_clinton_on_faith/


This is a gripe I will return to throughout the 2008 presidential election, in which hopefuls already are pandering to Americans’ desire to connect religiously with the commander-in-chief (probably because of this). I personally think it is dangerous to put too much stock in anything pols say. That goes double when they’ve talking about religion, something they know you want to hear but have no means for measuring their sincerity.

That being said, proceed at your own peril with this 2,093-word story in the New York Times about how Sen. Hillary Clinton’s Christian faith taught her to forgive and much, much more.

“We all have things that oftentimes we’re upset about, or ashamed of, or feel guilty over, and so many people carry these enormous burdens around,” Mrs. Clinton said in a recent interview. “One of the great gifts of faith is to let it go.”

The themes of wrongs, forgiveness and reconciliation have played out repeatedly in Mrs. Clinton’s life, as she has endured the ordeal of her husband’s infidelity, engaged in countless political battles and shared a deep, mutual distrust with adversaries.

Her Methodist faith, Mrs. Clinton says, has guided her as she sought to repair her marriage, forgiven some critics who once vilified her and struggled in the bare-knuckles world of politics to fulfill the biblical commandment to love thy neighbor.

Mrs. Clinton, the New York senator who is seeking the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, has been alluding to her spiritual life with increasing regularity in recent years, language that has dovetailed with efforts by her party to reach out to churchgoers who have been voting overwhelmingly Republican.

Mrs. Clinton’s references to faith, though, have come under attack, both from conservatives who doubt her sincerity (one writer recently lumped her with the type of Christians who “believe in everything but God”) and liberals who object to any injection of religion into politics. And her motivations have been cast as political calculation by detractors, who suggest she is only trying to moderate her liberal image.

“Many people have developed opinions about her,” said John C. Green, senior fellow at the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. “Senator Clinton has a long history of involvement in religious matters and appears to be a person of deep and sincere faith, but a lot of people don’t perceive her that way.”

Obviously her husband and Monica Lewinsky are not far from the story, from Clinton’s tales of trials overcome. Thematically, the article ends right where it began.

“The whole idea of the new covenant was really a new relationship with God, a sense that we could be forgiven, that we could seek both personally and through our relationships with others that gift of forgiveness,” she said. “It’s instrumental in life.”

(A Google image search for “hillary clinton praying” doesn’t turn up photos of the senator in prayer but instead, it appears, web pages for people praying she doesn’t end up in the White House.)

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