What Does Hillary Clinton Believe?

Religious Beliefs of Hillary Clinton Affect Positions on Religion, Secularism

Hillary Clinton church
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Politics and religion are often intertwined. Many voters believe that a politician's religious beliefs are the foundation for the political positions. In the case of Hillary Clinton, many people have publicly questioned her spiritual beliefs and even helped spread rumors that she does not hold any.

In truth, Hillary Clinton has repeatedly spoken of her Christian faith. Throughout her political career, she made numerous references to being a Methodist.

She also repeatedly spoke of how her faith has helped shape her political stance on a variety of issues, even when those conflicted with her church.

A Methodist Throughout Her Life

Hillary Clinton grew up in a Methodist household and she has taught Methodist Sunday school like her mother. During her time in the Senate, she was a member of a prayer group. While in Washington D.C. -- as both First Lady and Senator -- she regularly attended the Foundry United Methodist Church.

Hillary Clinton can be placed in the moderate to liberal wing of American Christianity. At times, she does appear to share a number of attitudes with more conservative American Christians. 

Clinton's liberalism is a relative matter. She is more liberal than many in America and certainly more liberal than the Christian Right. Yet, some would say that Clinton has a long way to go to support truly progressive stances when it comes to religious debates.

Hillary Clinton and the Methodist Church

The United Methodist Church is made up of both conservative and liberal congregations. The Foundry United Methodist Church in Washington which Hillary Clinton has regularly attended describes itself as a "reconciling congregation." According to them, this means aside from not making any distinctions about race, ethnicity, or gender, they also invite "gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons to share our faith, our community life and our ministries."

The denomination as a whole, however, is on both sides of the matter of homosexuality. Some people wish to maintain the traditional stance that "homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching." Others want to see the church become even more inclusive.

At any rate, as of the 2016 General Conference, the United Methodist Church "prohibits pastors from performing gay marriage ceremonies and churches from hosting such ceremonies." During the 2016 presidential campaign, Clinton continually expressed her support for full equality of every person in the LGBTQ community.

Abortion is formally frowned upon by the United Methodist Church, but the denomination nevertheless opposes criminalizing abortion as a medical procedure. This makes it technically pro-choice rather than pro-life. 

Hillary Clinton's stance on abortion has not always been in line conventional Methodists. This is one example in which her personal and religious beliefs have been in conflict. Clinton has long been an advocate for women's rights and freedom of choice, even when it was not accepted by her church.

Clinton has addressed conflicts such as this on many occasions. In multiple statements, books she authored, and other venues she has acknowledged that she does not always agree with the United Methodist Church.

However, that fact plays no factor in her being irreligious as some have claimed her to be.

For a while, the United Methodist Church was an important pillar of the Social Gospel Movement. This Christian social movement sought to transform American politics and society along lines consistent with the Christian gospel. Hillary Clinton has stated that she believes it was an error for Methodists to focus so much on social transformation because this took attention away from "questions of personal salvation and individual faith."

There is no evidence that Hillary Clinton's religiosity is superficial or an affectation. Her behavior is consistent with her professed beliefs and she has explained more than once how important faith is for herself personally and her family. She has also said that prayer - trying to communicate with a god - is important in her life.

The Christian Right, though, has tried to portray her as being just the opposite.

What Clinton's Rivals Have Said

It is not uncommon for political opposites to try to degrade one another on their religious values. Hillary Clinton is a very public figure and her political career has opened her up to much criticism. Unfortunately, she has also been the victim of many falsehoods regarding her personal faith.

For example, radio show host Michael Savage once described her the most godless member of the Senate:

Then you have Hillary Clinton, the most Godless woman in the Senate, right out of the Marxist playbook, speaking at the National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast, so as all politicians, suddenly she becomes religious. And here she is opening up her speech to the Hispanics who actually believe in God...

In 2006, Rev. Jerry Falwell took this a step further. He stated that Clinton can energize the Republican "base" of conservative evangelicals even more than if Lucifer were running as the Democratic candidate for president.

Demonizing Hillary Clinton transfers responsibility from the people who hate Hillary Clinton onto Clinton herself. If she's demonic, then people have no sane choice but to hate her. Furthermore, this ensures that there is no reason to hold back in attacks on her. By this thinking, you can negotiate and compromise with political equals, but not with demons.

More recently, then Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump took it even further in June 2016. While speaking to a conservative group of religious leaders in New York City, he stated that we "…don’t know anything about Hillary in terms of religion.”

Given Clinton's record of speaking about her religious beliefs and the United Methodist Church, this statement was quickly called out by journalists.

Dispelling the Myth About Clinton's Religion

Whenever speaking about the personal beliefs of anyone other than ourselves, we can only go off what they have said and look to their actions. Despite the political rhetoric, we can say that Hillary Clinton is, in fact, a Christian and a Methodist.

To the majority of people, Clinton's faith is not an issue. How faith influences political stance is a much more complicated matter and one that will likely continue to be debated.