“Clinton doesn’t talk about her faith much. She never, as [adviser Burns] Strider says, used it “as an overt tool to talk about who she is.”
Buzzfeed’s Ruby Cramer wrote this. She graduated from Vassar in 2012. So it’s fair to say that she might have few memories of the media's "Methodist moments" during the Clinton presidency. But is Strider’s claim too good to check? Checking wouldn’t take long. Try Hillary selling her memoirs with Barbara Walters in 2003, as we wrote in Whitewash:
The biggest nail-polishing moment in the interview came when Walters turned to religion as she explained Hillary's vacation at Martha's Vineyard after Clinton was forced to admit adultery: "I don't think people realize how strong your faith is. It goes all through the book. it must have helped you then." Naturally, Hillary agreed. "It was the primary source of help to me. I was raised with faith, and that's a great gift to give a child, and I have relied on it. I've relied on prayer."
Again, no one questioned whether covering up for her husband's behavior and her long record of attacking her husband's previous accusers were a moral or religious failing. Instead, Walters insisted in one of her endless promotional interviews on ABC, 'She's a very religious woman."
The first thing that leaps to mind for the middle-aged media critic is the Newsweek article by religion editor Kenneth L. Woodward in the October 31, 1994 issue. "Soulful Matters: In the midst of a crucial and bitterly fought campaign season, the First Lady speaks exclusively with Newsweek's Religion Editor about her spiritual life." This gush from Woodward became legendary:
"Hillary Rodham Clinton is as pious as she is political. Methodism, for her, is not just a church but an extended family of faith that defines her horizons...If the Kennedy era was Camelot and the Reagan White House a ranchero on the Potomac, the Clinton presidency -- in the figure of its formidable First Lady -- is Washington's Methodist Moment."
In her interview with Woodward, she even suggested conservative evangelicals "are, as pharisees have always been, willing to manipulate people for their own particular purposes."
The May 23, 1993 New York Times Magazine carried a cover story by Michael Kelly that it unsubtly titled "Saint Hillary."
Working her way through a thicket of theologies and ideologies, she offers in language that is a mix of Bible and Bill Moyers, of New Testament and New Age, a tentative definition of what she believes.
"The very core of what I believe is this concept of individual worth, which I think flows from all of us being creatures of God and being imbued with a spirit," she says. She speaks carefully, sitting upright and leaning slightly forward at a small table in a neat and modest White House garden.
"Some years ago, I gave a series of talks about the underlying priniciples of Methodism," she goes on. "I talked a lot about how timeless a lot of scriptural lessons were because they tied in with what we now know about human beings. If you break down the Golden Rule or if you take Christ's commandment -- Love thy neighbor as thyself -- there is an underlying assumption that you will value yourself, that you will be a responsible being who will live by certain behaviors that enable you to have self-respect, because, then, out of that self-respect comes the capacity for you to respect and care for other people.
This came long before the question of Hillary's self-respect during her husband's sexual incontinence had any meaning. But this began a discourse on how a Christian doesn't tell racist, sexist jokes and wants a higher minimum wage for janitors and from there, an entire progressive political agenda.
Just don't try to claim Hillary's "never" used religious talk as an "overt tool" in political toolbox.