Knee-deep promoting her new memoir What Happened, Hillary Rodham Clinton stopped by famed Riverside Church in Manhattan on September 7 to address the age-old struggle of balancing religious beliefs and political agendas. During her visit, Clinton sat down for an interview with Rev. Ginger Gaines-Cirelli, senior pastor of Foundry United Methodist Church, to discuss how her faith helped her heal after losing one of the most surprising upsets in U.S. election history.
The interview with the former Secretary of State was a fundraiser event to benefit Camp Olmsted, a program designed to instill leadership and growth skills in children of all ages, and to allow audiences a glimpse at how Clinton’s Christian faith supposedly shaped her political path.
This time last year, Clinton had the security every politician dreams about. “I didn’t think I would lose. The two best politicians I know, my husband and Barack Obama, didn’t think I would lose,” admitted Clinton to Gaines-Cirelli. Within a few short weeks the Democratic candidate was sure she would be elected the President of the United States. The reality is her confidence may have won Clinton battles, but it failed to win her the war.
To deal with the “devastating” election loss, Clinton shared, “I relied on several tools, one of which was prayer, and I was lifted up and blessed by a lot of people who sent me prayers, sent me spiritual readings.”
She later added, “Through it all, my faith was really holding me together in a very central way. It gave me a lot of courage to get up and keep going.”
During her sit-down interview, Clinton reminisced of the Methodist church leaders who influenced her worldview. Clinton spoke fondly of Rev. Don Jones, her former Methodist youth minister who had a profound impact on her life. While growing up in the United Methodist Church certainly shaped her future, Clinton admitted “it’s not always easy…to figure out how best to translate your faith into your daily life.”
When it came to her political career, Clinton mentioned she did not often talk about her faith but strove to let it guide her actions. For Clinton the 2016 presidential campaign made it increasingly difficult to communicate her faith to the American public. “There was a misconception between who I am, what I believe, and the kind of campaign that we saw a year ago,” she shared.
What is more interesting is that Clinton seems to be under the impression that it was her focus on compassion during her campaign that caused discontent among voters. She went on to blame conservative Christians’ misguided notions, explaining:
We talked about love in a community concept, a public concept, and it was challenging to do that because there is a large group of people with a very strong opinion that if you’re a Christian, if you profess your faith, you can only have one set of political beliefs. And if you deviate from those political beliefs, you somehow are not really a Christian. I reject that completely.
No matter the reasons behind her loss, Clinton testified to a great healing that took place over the past ten months and why she chose to write her memoir:
I decided to write a book which was as much for me as for anybody else, trying to make sense of it, trying to come to grips with it, trying to find out what happened and then understand it and explain it. And that was really hard. It was excruciating to try to write it. Sometimes I would write a couple of pages and I would literally have to go lie down because it was so difficult.
To stress how much her faith guides her public life, Clinton referred to a Galatians passage instructing Christians to not grow weary when doing good works. She then followed this with two different instances of exclaiming how strenuous it is to defend others, to consistently be the one to stop people from wronging each other. “It is hard. It’s exhausting to stand up and say ‘Don’t talk about people like that. Don’t treat people like that. Don’t insult and demean a whole group of people,’” Clinton stated.
As to the Trump Administration, Clinton questioned the Christian values behind the President’s controversial plan to break down DACA. “You have to ask yourself where does that cruelty, that meanspiritedness, come from? It is not from the church. It is not from Christianity. It is not from people of faith.”
Concluding, Gaines-Cirelli described Clinton as a woman “who has stood in the midst of so much with an extraordinary amount of strength and grace and [who] we know has been grounded in faith.”
With an ending statement and call to action, Clinton rallied the audience one last time. “We need more people to join us in speaking out, but we should do it with, you know, a song in our heart. We can’t be turned into the mirror image of the people who are peddling hate and bigotry and bias and prejudice and paranoia.”
A liberal legend, Clinton has fallen into a state of mind that seems to circulate around one thing: herself. Perhaps at one time her political agenda aimed to encapsulate her faith and to help those who needed it. Now, however, she is found advocating for only her own self-interest in a country that simply wants to move forward.Google+