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Faith and politics

Dori writes…


HillaryInterview MD


I’m working on what I think will be a fascinating topic for Friday’s show. I just spent a half hour listening to an interview that Hillary Clinton did with New York Times reporter Michael Luo. The entire interview was about her Christian faith.


Religion will always be part of the storyline of a presidential campaign. John McCain hasn’t won over the religious right. Many are uneasy about Barack Obama’s having had a Muslim father. And Mitt Romney certainly faced some prejudice over his Mormon faith.


And then there’s Hillary Clinton. I had never heard her talk about her faith. But in this NY Times interview, she spoke very candidly about how Methodist upbringing and the role that faith still plays in her life:


Hillary Clinton: I believe in the father, son, and Holy Spirit, and I have felt the presence of the Holy Spirit on many occasions in my years on this earth.

Reporter: Can I ask you theologically, do you believe that the resurrection of Jesus actually happened, that it actually historically did happen?

Senator Clinton: Yes, I do.


Then, she was asked about one of the most basic elements of Christianity:


Reporter: And, do you believe on the salvation issue — and this is controversial too — that belief in Christ is needed for going to heaven?

Senator Clinton: That one I’m a little more open to. I think that it is, as we understand our relationship to God as Christians, it is how we see our way forward, and it is the way. But, ever since I was a little girl, I’ve asked every Sunday school teacher I’ve ever had, I asked every theologian I’ve ever talked with, whether that meant that there was no salvation, there was no heaven for people who did not accept Christ. And, you’re well aware that there are a lot of answers to that. There are people who are totally rooted in the fact that, no, that’s why there are missionaries, that’s why you have to try to convert. And, then there are a lot of other people who are deeply faithful and deeply Christ-centered who say, that’s how we understand it and who are we to read God’s mind about such a weighty decision as that.


I’m intrigued by her answer to that question: “that one I’m a little more open to”. From a Christian perspective, how can someone be “open” to that question. Jesus’ words were quite clear in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”


But from a political perspective, I certainly understand the firestorm of controversy that would erupt if Hillary had given a fundamentalist answer to that question. It seems that Americans consistently want a president who believes in God. But they’re uncomfortable with politicians who are “too Christian”.


Religion topics can be a bit dicey in talk radio. But I think this one is fascinating. Theologically, I don’t know how a Christian can waffle on one of the most basic elements of their faith. But politically, I recognize that a candidate HAS to dance around that question. On Friday’s show, I’ll play audio clips from this Hillary Clinton interview and get your take on the intersection of religion and politics.

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