Hillary Rodham Clinton

Hillary Clinton wants to preach, and The Atlantic omits, yep, some really obvious context

Hillary Clinton wants to preach, and The Atlantic omits, yep, some really obvious context

Love her or loathe her -- there are millions of people willing to line up behind each option -- former U.S. Secretary of State and 2016 Democratic Party candidate for President Hillary Rodham Clinton is a person of strong beliefs.

One of those, if media reports are to be accepted at face value, is that she's a dedicated person of faith who might want to step onto a platform and declare her spiritual viewpoint. A church platform. Behind a pulpit. As a United Methodist lay preacher, perhaps.

In other words, as The Atlantic notes in an analysis piece, "Hillary Wants to Preach."

Noting that Clinton is planning a campaign memoir for a fall release, the magazine/website adds that she approved -- and wrote the foreword for -- a book of devotionals sent to her on the campaign trail:

Hillary Clinton wants to preach. That’s what she told Bill Shillady, her longtime pastor, at a recent photo shoot for his new book about the daily devotionals he sent her during the 2016 campaign. Scattered bits of reporting suggest that ministry has always been a secret dream of the two-time presidential candidate: Last fall, the former Newsweek editor Kenneth Woodward revealed that Clinton told him in 1994 that she thought “all the time” about becoming an ordained Methodist minister. She asked him not to write about it, though: “It will make me seem much too pious.” The incident perfectly captures Clinton’s long campaign to modulate -- and sometimes obscure -- expressions of her faith.

The rest of this article is long on historical analysis but short on issues-focused context. We learn, for example, about her upbringing as a progressive Methodist teen-ager:

Hillary Rodham grew up attending First United Methodist Church in the conservative suburb of Park Ridge, Illinois, often taking field trips into Chicago with her youth pastor to see figures like Martin Luther King Jr. While other girls were flipping through beauty mags, she was reading about Vietnam and poverty in a now-defunct magazine for Methodist students called motive. (The title was always styled with a lower-case m.)

So we go on, and on, and on about Clinton's faith and its sometimes halting expression in the political realm.

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RNA poll: Trump dominates 2016, but was not (#Really) Religion Newsmaker of the Year

RNA poll: Trump dominates 2016, but was not (#Really) Religion Newsmaker of the Year

So when did Citizen Donald Trump win the White House? 

You could make a case that it was when Hillary Rodham Clinton kept going to see the musical "Hamilton" over and over, rather than taking her husband's advice and making a few campaign trips to visit with angry working-class, labor-union Catholic families in the deeply depressed corners of Rust Belt states like Wisconsin and Michigan.

Or maybe the key moment in the cultural earthquake that topped this year's Religion News Association Top 10 religion-stories poll -- the subject of this week's Crossroads podcast -- actually took place in 2015.

That's what David Bernstein argued in a Washington Post analysis that ran with this headline: "The Supreme Court oral argument that cost Democrats the presidency." He argued that the crucial moment in this campaign took place on April 28, 2015, during debates at the U.S. Supreme Court (.pdf transcript here) that led to the 5-4 decision on the Obergefell same-sex marriage case.

JUSTICE ALITO:  Well, in the Bob Jones case, the Court held that a college was not entitled to tax­ exempt status if it opposed interracial marriage or interracial dating. So would the same apply to a university or a college if it opposed same­sex marriage?
GENERAL VERRILLI: You know, I, I don't think I can answer that question without knowing more specifics, but it's certainly going to be an issue. I, I don't deny that. I don't deny that, Justice Alito.  It is, it is going to be an issue.

From that moment on, argued Bernstein, it was clear that -- for millions of doctrinally conservative religious believers in various faiths -- the future of the Supreme Court and the First Amendment's free exercise of religion clause was going to be the No. 1 issue in the 2016 presidential race. I totally agree with his take on that. Hold that thought.

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A Monday-morning quarterback re-examines a foggy religion news forecast for 2016

A Monday-morning quarterback re-examines a foggy religion news forecast for 2016

This Memo must begin with a confession.

The Religion Guy was among countless newsies who thought Donald Trump would lose. He figured it was close, Trump would win Ohio and Iowa, and had a good shot in Florida and North Carolina. But it didn’t seem likely (to say the least) the president-elect could grab Wisconsin, Michigan (where The Guy went to college), Pennsylvania (where his in-laws live) and fall only 1.5 percent short in Minnesota (that super-blue land of Hubert Humphrey and Walter Mondale). 

Reminders of fallibility are necessary as The Guy turns Monday-morning quarterback and re-examines the forecast for 2016 by the team of pros at www.religionlink.com, an essential resource on the beat sponsored by our Religion Newswriters Foundation. (Tax-deductible donations welcomed.) Its Web postings are especially helpful in listing knowledgeable observers and advocates for reporters.

Naturally, ReligionLink led with the election. On the January day its 2016 forecast appeared, the RealClearPolitics poll average among Republicans put Trump first with 35 percent, followed by three rivals with substantial evangelical appeal who together claimed 38.3 percent: Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Dr. Ben Carson, in that order. Uh, that was essentially “white evangelical” appeal, due to African-Americans’ Democratic fealty.

ReligionLink cited Rubio’s pitch to evangelicals but ignored the devout Cruz and Carson.

Remarkably, Trump’s candidacy was not mentioned.

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Hey journalists: If you wanted to find Latino Trump voters, where would it be smart to look?

Hey journalists: If you wanted to find Latino Trump voters, where would it be smart to look?

If you want to start an argument, post-Election Day, here is one of the many questions that you can ask: How many Latino voters backed Donald Trump?

The Washington Post political team has been all over this issue, asking: Did 29 percent of Hispanics actually vote for Trump? Was this just a matter of "rural" Latinos, whatever that means, swinging his way?

This is a very, very hot-button topic. During live coverage of the Florida results you could hear a "this is like 9/11" shock in the voices of the on-camera talent (I was mostly watching CNN) as they realized that a smallish, but significant, percentage of the state's complex Latino population was going to back Trump.

As a former resident of West Palm Beach, I looked at the numbers and thought to myself: (1) The Cuban vote alone cannot explain what is happening and (2) someone needs to ask this question: What percentage of Latinos in Florida have converted to evangelical and Pentecostal forms of Protestantism?

So here is the question journalists should think about as we look at another piece of Washington Post coverage on this issue: If you were going to look for Latino Trump voters in Texas, where would you start looking? 

Start with this exercise: Click over to the full blog post and look at the screen shot of this particular Post story, located at the very top of my text. What is the first thing that you see in this image?

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Thanksgiving podcast break: But lots of GetReligion links in radio visit with Metaxas

Thanksgiving podcast break: But lots of GetReligion links in radio visit with Metaxas

There is no "Crossroads" podcast this week, seeing as how our friends at Issues, Etc., are off for the holidays. Lutherans do need to party every now and then.

However, I saved something that I thought may be of interest to GetReligion readers/listeners on this Black Friday, a day in which my family has a sacred tradition of staying as far as we can from shopping malls.

This is a radio interview between my self and a man -- Eric Metaxas, by name -- who has been my friend for two decades. The subject of the interview is the debate inside The New York Times staff about the quality and direction of its coverage of, well, non-New York City America during the recent election. Click here to tune that in.

Metaxas is, of course, a New Yorker and a Yale University man. I am a prodigal Texan who has spent most of his life and career -- other than a decade-plus as an outsider in Washington, D.C. -- deep in "flyover country."

What makes the interview interesting, I think, is that Metaxas and I are coming from two different points of view about the status of Citizen Donald Trump. (We also disagree on the Bee Gees.)

As GetReligion readers know, I was outspokenly #NeverHillary #NeverTrump. Metaxas was, of course, portrayed in the mainstream press as one of the Donald's strongest evangelical supporters (forgetting this lovely bit of classic Eric satire in The New Yorker). However, anyone who was paying close attention knew that Metaxas was a strong advocate of VOTING for Trump, based on his conviction that Hillary Rodham Clinton was a uniquely dangerous threat to religious liberty in this country.

Eric and I disagreed on the wisdom of voting for Trump. You'll hear hints of this in this Eric Metaxas Show hour, even though that isn't the subject of the interview. What we agree on is that this whole campaign was not a shining hour for the mainstream press and the great Gray Lady in particular.

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Your weekend think piece: Rumors that 'white' Christianity is dead may be off a bit

Your weekend think piece: Rumors that 'white' Christianity is dead may be off a bit

It's amazing how many different subjects people are arguing about in the wake of the shocking White House win by Citizen Donald Trump.

There is, of course, the whole CNN "whitelash" angle, which fits nicely with trends -- real ones, trends seen in the exit polls -- that make the Democratic Party establishment feel better about itself.

Then there is the more specific, and accurate, point that Hillary Rodham Clinton lost the White House because of a culture gap between her campaign (as opposed to those run by her husband) and the labor, working-class, heavily Catholic culture of the pivotal "Rust Belt" states -- such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.

You put all of that together, while highlighting the valid religion-trends angles, and you get a headline like this from The American Conservative magazine (a journal of cultural conservatism, not Republican Party orthodoxy):

White Christian Apocalypse?
That’s not what it means for America to become majority-minority.

Now, the byline on this think piece belongs to a scholar whose work is familiar to any modern reader interested in global and national trends linked to Christian life and demographics -- that of historian Philip Jenkins, best known as the author of "The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity" and numerous other important books. He currently holds a joint appointment as professor of the Humanities in history and religious studies at Penn State University and as distinguished professor of history at Baylor University.

This piece is must reading for anyone seeking to understand trends linked to the potential influence of the church -- minus ethnic adjectives -- in the coming decades. Most of all, Jenkins believes that journalists and other public thinkers need to adopt a broader definition of the word "white." Thus:

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Trump and the media meltdown: Have elite journalists spotted any religion ghosts yet?

Trump and the media meltdown: Have elite journalists spotted any religion ghosts yet?

Maybe it was just too much to ask our nation's top political journalists to see the facts.

I mean, they have had to wrestle with the fact that -- to be blunt -- Hillary Rodham Clinton is not on her way to the White House for a very simple reason: Not enough Democrats voted for her.

It wasn't the danged white evangelicals. They may have helped in Florida (look for Latino evangelical votes there too) and North Carolina, but a Democrat doesn't lose Wisconsin and Michigan because evangelicals rushed to the polls and took over.

No, as I said in my post the other day -- "Working-class folks: What Bill Clinton knew, and Hillary Rodham failed to learn" -- Hillary Rodham Clinton lost because lots of working-class, labor-family people (male and female, it turned out) who have long been Democrats didn't think she cared about them and their futures. Many of them were Catholics, including good-old cultural Catholics who don't show up in the polls all that much.

I interviewed EWTN anchor Raymond Arroyo about all of this more than a week before Election Day and one of his quotes proved to be spot on. He told me that he was hearing from the Rust Belt a lot and he told me what lots of Catholics were telling him. Thus, that "On Religion" column ended like this:

What now? Arroyo offered this Election Day advice: Watch Catholic men in the Rust Belt.
"Lots of working-class Catholics aren't sure if they're Republicans or Democrats these days," he said. "They keep swinging back and forth. ... What I hear them saying is: 'I'll go in that voting booth and make a choice, but I'm not talking about it. I'll go behind that curtain and do what I have to do.' "

As you would imagine, "Crossroads" host Todd Wilken and I talked about all of that and more when recording this week's podcast. Click here to tune that in (and sorry for the delay, with some technical complications.)

Meanwhile, journalists have been wrestling, as you would imagine, with the whole "How in the heckfire did we miss this story?" puzzle.

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Working-class folks: What Bill Clinton knew, and Hillary Rodham failed to learn

Working-class folks: What Bill Clinton knew, and Hillary Rodham failed to learn

If you have followed Bill Clinton's career closely through the decades, as I have, then you know that at one point Southern and Midwestern Democrats thought that he was the future of the party, a centrist who could understand the concerns of working-class Democrats and even his party's moral conservatives.

After all, in Arkansas he was even willing to compromise and seek some kind of centrist position on abortion. Few remember that, over in Tennessee, the young Sen. Al Gore at one time had an 80-plus percent positive rating from National Right to Life.

But there always was a nagging problem, even before Bill Clinton's libido jumped into the national headlines. Her name was Hillary Rodham Clinton and it was pretty clear that she was 1960s Wellesley College right down to the core (even with her complex Chicago roots).

So when it came to issues of class, culture and (early on) even morality, there was Bill Clinton and then there was Hillary Rodham Clinton. This leads us to a news feature in the Washington Post that had to catch the eye of long-time Clinton watchers: "The Clintons were undone by the middle-American voters they once knew so well."

The byline was just as important -- David Maraniss. We're talking about the veteran reporter who wrote "First In His Class: The Biography of Bill Clinton."

Surely Maraniss would see the cultural, moral and religious ghosts in much of the coverage of Hillary's great defeat? That would be yes, yes and no. Here's the overture:

Few Americans knew the voters who rejected Hillary Clinton better than her husband. He lived among them growing up, and then studied them with a fanatical intensity during his political rise.
But now, with any notion of a dynasty dead and gone, one explanation for the stunning political demise of the Clintons might be the extent to which they moved away from a middle-American sensibility into the realm of the coastal elite, from McDonald’s to veganism to put it in symbolic terms, making it harder for Hillary to bridge the nation’s yawning social divide.

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