Politics & Liberal Christianity (Hillary Clinton)

clinton christianity

I don’t think this can be canned. I liked this bit, which you can read here, of Hillary Clinton talking about Christianity. A little on the plain side, it’s not deep, which it probably wasn’t meant to be. Clinton here is speaking off the cuff and fluent about her religion, suggesting how a genuine, thoughtful and value-based liberal Christianity inflects the political world view of a candidate for office. I’m posting it below in full:

“Thank you for asking that. I am a person of faith. I am a Christian. I am a Methodist. I have been raised Methodist. I feel very grateful for the instructions and support I received starting in my family but through my church, and I think that any of us who are Christian have a constantly, constant, conversation in our own heads about what we are called to do and how we are asked to do it, and I think it is absolutely appropriate for people to have very strong convictions and also, though, to discuss those with other people of faith. Because different experiences can lead to different conclusions about what is consonant with our faith and how best to exercise it.

The idea you heard on the radio of looking at individuals, I think, is absolutely fair. My study of the Bible, my many conversations with people of faith, has led me to believe the most important commandment is to love the Lord with all your might and to love your neighbor as yourself, and that is what I think we are commanded by Christ to do, and there is so much more in the Bible about taking care of the poor, visiting the prisoners, taking in the stranger, creating opportunities for others to be lifted up, to find faith themselves that I think there are many different ways of exercising your faith. But I do believe that in many areas judgment should be left to God, that being more open, tolerant and respectful is part of what makes me humble about my faith, and I am in awe of people who truly turn the other cheek all the time, who can go that extra mile that we are called to go, who keep finding ways to forgive and move on. Those are really hard things for human beings to do, and there is a lot, certainly in the New Testament, that calls us to do that.

The famous discussion on the Sermon on the Mount should be something that you really pay attention to. There’s a lot of great Bible studies: What does the Sermon on the Mount really mean? What is it calling us to do and to understand? Because it sure does seem to favor the poor and the merciful and those who in worldly terms don’t have a lot but who have the spirit that God recognizes as being at the core of love and salvation.

So there is much to be learned and I have been very disappointed and sorry that Christianity, which has such great love at its core, is sometimes used to condemn so quickly and judge so harshly. When I think part of the message that I certainly have tried to understand and live with is to look at yourself first, to make sure you are being the kind of person you should be in how you are treating others, and I am by no means a perfect person, I will certainly confess that to one and all, but I feel the continuing urge to try to do better, to try to be kinder, to try to be more loving, even with people who are quite harsh.

So, I think you have to keep asking yourself, if you are a person of faith, what is expected of me and am I actually acting the way that I should? And that starts in small ways and goes out in very large ones, but it’s something that I take very seriously. So thank you for asking.”

 

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish though and philosophical aesthetics. http://religion.syr.edu
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6 Responses to Politics & Liberal Christianity (Hillary Clinton)

  1. Jon Awbrey says:

    Well, neo-liberal christianity … but then maybe I’m being too cynical … as usual the words are very nice … but, oh, what of the deeds?

  2. dmf says:

    I actually got to know her youth pastor in his later years, lovely man sadly part of a fading community of folks at Drew U. focused on the Beloved Community, of course the Iron Lady was also a devout Methodist: http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2013/04/the-baroness-thatcher-on-methodism-and-the-church-of-england

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