Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reportedly wants to preach her Methodist faith in an informal capacity. Clinton's longtime pastor revealed the former Democratic nominee's religious ambitions while promoting a book containing the scriptures he sent her during the 2016 presidential race.
On Aug. 6, Methodist pastor Bill Shillady of the United Methodist City Society disclosed that Clinton had told him of her desire to preach during her presidential campaign. Shillady asserted that Clinton would "make a great pastor."
The Clinton confidant clarified that the former first lady was unlikely to pursue becoming a deaconess.
"I think it would be more of ... her guest preaching at some point," Shillady said. "We have a long history of lay preachers in the United Methodist Church."
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Shillady is set to publish a book containing the daily devotionals that he had sent Clinton during her presidential campaign, titled "Strong for a Moment Like This."
"I do not believe that she encouraged me to write this book in any way to change the image of her," Shillady added.
Clinton became deeply involved in Bible study and the First United Methodist Church during her childhood in Park Ridge, Illinois. The future secretary of state was strongly influenced by Methodist youth minister Don Jones.
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"[Jones] took Hillary and the youth group into the slums of Chicago, had them interact with poor blacks and Puerto Ricans, and brought them to hear [Martin Luther King Jr.] preach," history professor William Chafe of Duke University told PolitiFact.
Clinton later attributed Jones' religious teachings to her conversion from a Goldwater Republican to a Democrat.
While Clinton's religious life is well-documented, a large portion of the general public has been skeptical of her religiosity. In January 2016, a Pew Research Center poll found that 48 percent of national adults viewed Clinton as religious while 43 percent did not.
Professor Kristin Du Mez of Calvin College, a Clinton biographer, said it was "baffling to me that so many other Americans not only didn't know she was Methodist, but didn't accept that she was Christian."
Clinton fared poorly among Christian voters during the 2016 presidential election. Based on 2016 exit polling, Pew found that only 39 percent of Protestants voted for Clinton while 58 percent voted for President Donald Trump. Among Catholics, 45 percent voted for Clinton while 52 percent sided with Trump.
White evangelicals were the biggest boosters of Trump, with 81 percent casting a vote for him and only 16 percent preferring Clinton.
In October 2016, Ed Stetzer, executive director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism explained that the majority of evangelicals doubted Clinton's religiosity because she supported abortion rights and was a vocal feminist.
"Evangelicals see her as the personification of secular, progressive values, and that overshadows any of her self-identified religious practices," Stetzer told CNN.
Mark Tooley, president of the conservative think tank Religion and Democracy, asserted that Clinton's political critics crossed a line when they questioned her Methodist faith.
"Too often conservatives have been too dismissive of her religious beliefs, which are sincere," Tooley said. "She was shaped by the church and is still committed to it, and you can't understand her political framework without understanding her Methodist background."