Hillary Clinton is back in the news, but for reasons that are confounding her supporters and her detractors alike. She is reportedly weighing a decision to become a Methodist lay preacher.
There are good reasons why her fans and foes are befuddled: it is out of character for almost any Democrat these days to evince a serious interest in Christianity. Quite simply, it will not be easy for her to make the jump to preacher status given all the hostility to traditional Christian moral values that she and her Party have expressed for decades.
“God talk” has never come easily to Hillary. Her former press secretary, Mike McCurry, admits that “Hillary finds it hard to talk about religion a lot. She comes from the Methodist tradition, which, like many more liberal, mainstream Protestant denominations, is a little more buttoned up.”
That is an accurate, yet incomplete, explanation. It must also be said that mainline Protestantism has been crashing for decades, precisely because its positions on moral issues are indistinguishable from secular liberal thought. Therefore, trying to get a religious handle on such issues as abortion and marriage will not be easy. Is Hillary prepared to pivot on these matters? Not likely, which is why this is a heavy lift.
It’s even more profound than this: Hillary’s preference for discussing freedom to worship, which is a privatized understanding of religious liberty, is emblematic of her reluctance to speak about freedom of religion, which implies a more public, and robust, conception of religious liberty.
So if Hillary is going to become a preacher, she will either have to do a 180 or continue to secularize her lexicon on matters religious. The latter, however, is not likely to inspire anyone.
An even bigger problem for Hillary is the association of her Party with secularism, something that virtually every survey has confirmed. It began in 1972 and has only grown more extreme. It’s even worse than this: Religious bigotry has marked the Democrats for a long time.
In 2003, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) aligned itself with Catholics for a Free Choice (now Catholics for Choice). This is a Catholic-bashing entity funded by establishment players such as the Ford Foundation and George Soros.
On September 16, 2003, the New York Times published an op-ed page ad I wrote, “Why Are The Democrats Insulting Catholics?” Subsequently, the DNC dropped all association with the pro-abortion dummy Catholic group, but the damage had already been done.
In 2004, presidential candidate John Kerry hired Mara Vanderslice as his Director of Religious Outreach. After I outed her—she was associated with anti-Catholic causes—Kerry silenced her.
Then the DNC hired Rev. Brenda Bartella Peterson as its Senior Advisor for Religious Outreach. I outed her as well: she had filed an amicus brief with other clergy members supporting atheist Michael Newdow’s attempt to excise the words “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance. After I kept pounding her for days – she quit.
In 2007, presidential candidate John Edwards hired Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwan to work in his 2008 campaign. I outed them for their anti-Catholic writings, forcing them to quit.
In 2012, the Democratic Party deleted the word “God” from its Platform. God was reinstated after much pushback, but everyone knew what the Democrats’ real preference was.
In 2016, Hillary stood by the anti-Catholic rhetoric of her communications director, Jennifer Palmieri, and the anti-Catholic machinations of her campaign chairman, John Podesta.
A Wikileaks document showed that Podesta was instrumental in creating phony Catholic organizations, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and Catholics United: they were launched for the express purpose of creating a “revolution” in the Catholic Church.
Just recently, Democrats went into a tizzy when Rep. Ben Ray Luján, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said that pro-life Americans were welcome to join the Democrats. Also, the head of Catholic Democrats smeared the premier Catholic TV network, EWTN, as a rogue entity.
If Hillary wants to become a Christian preacher, she will have to clear many hurdles, some of which she erected. Good luck. If she succeeds, she will have no shortage of potential converts to work with—her Party is chock full of them.
Bill Donohue is President and CEO of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, the nation’s largest Catholic civil rights organization. He was awarded his Ph.D. in sociology from New York University and is the author of seven books and many articles.