Hillary Faith Politics

On Monday night CNN aired a forum on Faith Politics. The interviewer was Soledad O’Brien. Below are excerpts of Hillary’s remarks at the forum. There’s a lot of interesting stuff here particularly about abortion and Hillary’s desire to find common ground on this issue:

O’BRIEN: You don’t talk a lot about your faith, truly. I — I know because I have Googled everything you have ever said, actually.

(LAUGHTER)

O’BRIEN: But I’m going to ask you a delicate question. Infidelity in your marriage was very public. And I have to imagine it was incredibly difficult to deal with. And I would like to know how your faith helped you get through it.

CLINTON: Well, I’m not sure I would have gotten through it without my faith.

And, you know, I take my faith very seriously and very personally. And I come from a tradition that is perhaps a little too suspicious of people who wear their faith on their sleeves, so, that a lot of the…

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: … a lot of the talk about and advertising about faith doesn’t come naturally to me. It is something that — you know, I keep thinking of the Pharisees and all of Sunday school lessons and readings that I had as a child.

But I think your — your faith guides you every day. Certainly, mine does. But, at those moments in time when you’re tested, it — it is absolutely essential that you be grounded in your faith.

For some people, being tested leads them to faith. For some people, being tested in cruel and tragic ways leads them away from faith. For me, because I have been tested in ways that are both publicly known and those that are not so well known or not known at all, my faith and the support of my extended faith family, people whom I knew who were literally praying for me in prayer chains, who were prayer warriors for me, and people whom I didn’t know, who I would meet or get a letter from, sustained me through a very difficult time.

But I — I am very grateful that I had a grounding in faith that gave me the courage and the strength to do what I thought was right, regardless of what the world thought. And that’s all one can expect or hope for.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

O’BRIEN: When you pray…

(LAUGHTER)

O’BRIEN: And this is a — a very personal question. And you can defer it.

CLINTON: Oh, go ahead, Soledad.

O’BRIEN: All right.

(LAUGHTER)

O’BRIEN: It’s just us girls.

(LAUGHTER)

O’BRIEN: What do you ask for? What do you ask God for?

CLINTON: Well, it depends upon the time of day.

(LAUGHTER)

CLINTON: And, you know, sometimes, I say, oh, lord, why can’t you help me lose weight?

(LAUGHTER)

CLINTON: Sometimes — you know, sometimes, it’s, you know, obviously praying for discernment, for wisdom, for strength, for courage, praying for my family and my friends, I mean, praying for people whom I don’t have any personal connection with that I — I hear about, or I know about, or that I’m — I’m struck by.

You know, I — I will tell you, your question sort of prompted this in my head. I was at a Methodist church in Decorah, Iowa. And I was attending Sunday morning service. And I walked in, and I met the pastor, Carol Cress (ph), who welcomed me to her church and her congregation.

And she introduced me to this man from the Congo who the church had taken in as a refugee. And he said that he wanted to ask for my help for the people of the Congo. And he told me about how he had been campaigning for democracy, and he had been thrown in jail, and he had been beaten, and then he had been dragged from the jail by the officials, and he had been hung on a tree and left to die.

And the members of his church rescued him. And he told me this just as I was walking into the sanctuary. And I was just so overcome. And I spent much of the service thinking about and praying about these people in this church in the Congo — I don’t even know where in the Congo — who had saved this man and given him the chance to come and witness to somebody like me.

So, I pray for all kinds of things, some of it, to be honest, trivial and self-serving and all the rest of it.

(LAUGHTER)

CLINTON: And, when I do that, I try to say, oh, come on, that’s — you can do better than that.

(LAUGHTER)

O’BRIEN: To God or your question?

(LAUGHTER)

CLINTON: Well, I say it — I say it to myself…

(LAUGHTER)

CLINTON: … because I assume, you know, that there’s the rolling of eyes going on, that… (LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: … I certainly can do better than that.

But, you know, somebody — somebody asked me — to go back to one of your earlier questions, somebody asked me if I were a praying person, you know, shortly after we had been in the White House.

And, you know, I said yes, I — I had been fortunate. I was raised to pray, you know, as a little girl, you know, saying my prayers at night, saying grace at meals, praying in, you know, church. I see my old friend, my youth minister praying in MYF, our Methodist Youth Fellowship.

And, so, they asked me, well, are you a praying person?

And I said, well, you know, fortunately, I — I have always been a praying person. And then I — I’m grateful for that. But, if I had not been a praying person, shortly after coming to the White House, I would have become one in a big hurry.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

O’BRIEN: Senator, we have seven minutes left, and I want to get to a couple of questions from the panelists we have not yet heard from.

The Reverend Joel C. Hunter is the senior pastor at Northland Church, one of the largest churches in Florida; 1,400 locations worship with them around the globe every single weekend.

Go ahead, Reverend.

CLINTON: Hello, Reverend.

REVEREND JOEL C. HUNTER, NORTHLAND, A CHURCH DISTRIBUTED: Hi, Senator Clinton.

Abortion continues to be one of the most hurtful and divisive facts of our nation. I come from the part of the faith community that is very strongly pro-life. I know you’re pro-choice, but you have indicated that you would like to reduce the number of abortions.

Could you see yourself, with millions of voters in a pro-life camp, creating a common ground, with the goal ultimately in mind of reducing the decisions for abortion to zero?

CLINTON: Yes. Yes.

And that is what I have tried to both talk about and reach out about over the last many years, going back, really, at least 15 years, in talking about abortion being safe, legal, and rare. And, by rare, I mean rare.

And it’s been a challenge, because the pro-life and the pro- choice communities have not really been willing to find much common ground. And I think that is a great failing on all of our parts, because, for me…

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: … there are many opportunities to assist young people to make responsible decisions.

There is a tremendous educational and public outreach that could be done through churches, through schools, through so much else. But I think it has to be done with an understanding of reaching people where they are today.

We have so many young people who are tremendously influenced by the media culture and by the celebrity culture, and who have a very difficult time trying to sort out the right decisions to make.

And I personally believe that the adult society has failed those people. I mean, I think that we have failed them in our churches, our schools, our government. And I certainly think the, you know, free market has failed. We have all failed.

We have left too many children to sort of fend for themselves morally. And, so, I think there is a great opportunity. But it would require sort of a — a leaving at the sides the suspicion and the baggage that comes with people who have very strong, heartfelt feelings.

You know, when I first started thinking about this very difficult issue — because it is. It’s a moral issue. And it should not be in any way diminished as a moral issue, no matter which side you’re on, because I have seen cases where I honestly believed that the — the moral choice was very complicated and not so straightforward as to what a young woman, her family, her physician, her pastor should do.

And what concerns me is that there’s been a — a real reluctance for anyone to make a move toward the other side, for fear of being labeled as turning one’s back on the moral dimensions of the issue from either direction.

So, I would invite you, and I would be willing to work with you, to see whether there couldn’t be some common ground that one could find.

(APPLAUSE)

O’BRIEN: Our next panelist, Senator, is Monsignor Kevin Sullivan. He is with Catholic Charities USA, helps seven million people, Catholics and not Catholics, around the United States.

Go ahead.

CLINTON: Oh, I know his work very well. It’s good to see you.

MONSIGNOR KEVIN SULLIVAN, CATHOLIC CHARITIES USA: Senator Clinton, just a very simple question.

You have spoken a lot about our need to work for the common good. In an age in which there is, oftentimes, narrow and excessive individualism, how will you speak to our country about the need for sacrifice, restraint, when it comes to the critical issues of taxes, gun control, health care, and energy consumption?

CLINTON: Well, Monsignor…

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: … you know, as they say in the Senate, I ask consent to expand and extend my remarks.

(LAUGHTER)

CLINTON: You know, I — I think that one of the great challenges facing us — and — and I heard both of my friends Senator Edwards and Senator Obama speaking.

And I think you can sense how we are attempting to try to inject faith into policy and also to elicit from people a sense of our common humanity and how we have to be in this together as a nation. And, on every issue you mentioned, there is an opportunity for us to chart a new course.

But I know how difficult that is. We can set the vision. We can even work to articulate the goal. But the pathway is extraordinarily complicated because of how we live today and how we think of ourselves in relation to our fellow citizens.

Take health care. I think we could get almost unanimous agreement that having more than 45 million uninsured people, nine million of whom are children, is a moral wrong in America. And I think…

O’BRIEN: One minute, Senator.

(APPLAUSE)

O’BRIEN: One minute, Senator.

CLINTON: I think we could reach that agreement, and then we would have to start doing the hard work of deciding what we were going to do to make sure that they were not uninsured, because an uninsured person who goes to the hospital is more likely to die than an insured person. I mean, that is a fact.

So, what do we do? We have to build a political consensus. And that requires people giving up a little bit of their own turf, in order to create this common ground.

The same with energy — you know, we can’t keep talking about our dependence on foreign oil, and the need to deal with global warming, and the challenge that it poses to our climate and to God’s creation, and just let business as usual go on.

O’BRIEN: Senator…

CLINTON: And that means something has…

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: … to be taken away from some people.

(APPLAUSE)

O’BRIEN: And that’s our final word.

(LAUGHTER)

O’BRIEN: Thank you very much.

Senator Clinton, always a pleasure.

CLINTON: Thank you so much.

O’BRIEN: Nice to see you.

CLINTON: Thank you, Soledad.

O’BRIEN: My pleasure. It was my pleasure.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

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