How religious is Hillary Clinton?


Recently I mocked Hillary Clinton’s assertion that “the Bible was and remains the biggest influence on my thinking”, saying that it was yet another example of her willingness to pander to voters.

But reader Philip reminded me of an article that I recall reading back in 2007 where Kathryn Joyce and Jeff Sharlett wrote about an almost cult-like group of US legislators called ‘The Fellowship’ and Clinton’s active role in it. They say her history reveals a lot about her religious convictions.

In fact, Clinton’s God talk is more complicated—and more deeply rooted—than either fans or foes would have it, a revelation not just of her determination to out-Jesus the GOP, but of the powerful religious strand in her own politics.

Through all of her years in Washington, Clinton has been an active participant in conservative Bible study and prayer circles that are part of a secretive Capitol Hill group known as the Fellowship. Her collaborations with right-wingers such as Senator Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) and former Senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) grow in part from that connection.

The Fellowship isn’t out to turn liberals into conservatives; rather, it convinces politicians they can transcend left and right with an ecumenical faith that rises above politics. Only the faith is always evangelical, and the politics always move rightward.

The article goes on to describe the influence on her thinking of Christian theologians like Reinhold Niebuhr and Paul Tillich. These were names familiar to me from my own early days as a Christian when they were presented to me as deep and serious thinkers who were finding new ways of relating Christian beliefs to social action, though I have now forgotten all their ideas, except that Tillich was the one who introduced the idea of god as the ‘ground of being’.

Joyce and Sharlett seem to think that Clinton is not faking her religiosity but that she only invokes it at times when it is politically convenient and when it enables her to claim justification for politically advantageous actions.

It is all of a package with the Clintons. One never knows what their true convictions are except for one: that they are born to rule and to permanently occupy the halls of wealth and power.

Comments

  1. consciousness razor says

    except that Tillich was the one who introduced the idea of god as the ‘ground of being’.

    That’s just a new phrase for a very old idea that goes back to medieval (and even ancient) theology. Blame Plato and Aristotle, or better yet people commenting on them for many centuries thereafter.

    But Tillich may have introduced it to you (and plenty of others), so that might not matter.

    Joyce and Sharlett seem to think that Clinton is not faking her religiosity but that she only invokes it at times when it is politically convenient and when it enables her to claim justification for politically advantageous actions.

    That’s what genuine religiosity looks like. I mean, I guess people can be so absorbed with the issues that they make a big show of it even when they believe it’s against their own interests. But generally, it’s hard to tell the difference between “real religion” and “fake religion,” because even the most devout politicians still remain politicians and try gain whatever advantage (and use whatever spurious reasoning) they can get away with.

    It is all of a package with the Clintons. One never knows what their true convictions are except for one: that they are born to rule and to permanently occupy the halls of wealth and power.

    How else would you get the idea that you’re “born to rule,” or for any purpose at all, if not from religion? I’d say that’s about as close to a decisive demonstration of her religiosity as you’re going to get.

  2. Matt G says

    It seems to me that at the end of the day, theists want a god they can have a “personal relationship” with – one who gives their lives meaning and assures them that death is not the end. Many of these people probably realize that this seems selfish, childish, and a result of wishful thinking. Enter, “ground of being” gods, and sophisticated theology! Intellectual cover for when arrogant atheists attack! But are personal gods and ground of being gods compatible, or are these people trying to have it both ways?

  3. sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d says

    But are personal gods and ground of being gods compatible[?]

    Of course they are.
    God is omnipotent xo he can make anything compatible with anything.

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