After a devastating loss in the U.S. presidential election in November, Hillary Clinton is reportedly embracing her religious roots, Emma Green of The Atlantic reports. And, according to Bill Shillady, Clinton’s longtime pastor, she even wants to try her hand at preaching.
Clinton, who grew up attending the First United Methodist Church in a conservative suburb outside Chicago, had de-emphasized the impact of her faith on her political beliefs ever since she was widely criticized over a speech about America’s “crisis of meaning” in 1993. In 1994, Clinton confided to former Newsweek editor Kenneth Woodward that she thought “all the time” about becoming an ordained Methodist minister — a secret he kept to himself until this fall because she told him “it will make me seem much too pious.” But after a long presidential campaign in which many Americans viewed Donald Trump as religious and Clinton as secular — in spite of Trump’s reluctance to “[profess] Jesus as his Lord and Savior” — it appears that Clinton is now more willing to open up about a faith she kept below the surface for much of her political life.
“When I would hear Hillary speak, knowing that she was a Methodist, I just heard so many resonances — about education, about women’s rights, about the importance of community,” Kristin Du Mez, a professor at Calvin College working on a book about Clinton’s faith, explained to Green. “Because of that, it was just baffling to me that so many other Americans not only didn’t know she was Methodist, but didn’t accept that she was Christian.”
“[Clinton] doesn’t wear her religion on her sleeve, she just practices it,” added Shillady, who has written Strong for a Moment Like This, a forthcoming book chronicling the Biblical verses he regularly shared with Clinton throughout the 2016 campaign.
Some noted that Clinton had quoted a verse from Galatians in her concession speech: “Let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season, we shall reap if we do not lose heart,” a verse Shillady said he had shared with her a few weeks before the election and resonated with her. Shillady said he doesn’t expect Clinton will go through any formal training or education, but that he can envision her speaking in a guest preacher role. Clinton did not respond to Green’s request for a comment about Shillady’s remarks on her faith.
Shillady also shared the most important way in which he thought Clinton had changed in the months since the election — a revelation that might come as a surprise to many.
Meanwhile, on Thursday, CNN obtained the email Shillady sent to Clinton hours after her unexpected loss to Trump. In the message, which carried the subject line “Sunday is Coming,” Shillady aimed to lift Clinton’s spirits, telling her, “Death will be shattered. Hope will be restored.” He confessed to her that the message was not the one he had hoped to write her, but went on to apply a Biblical lesson to the outcome neither of them saw coming.