Hillary Clinton’s cynical religion

In a June 15 interview with the New York Times, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had this to say when asked which book had been most influential to her:

At the risk of appearing predictable, the Bible was and remains the biggest influence on my thinking. I was raised reading it, memorizing passages from it and being guided by it. I still find it a source of wisdom, comfort and encouragement.

It’s a softball question, so it could be all too easy to brush off her softball answer with Gawker’s follow-up: “Sure, sure. How do you feel about bald eagles, though?” But let’s face it, even as canned answers go, that was pretty bad. Bad enough to make me a hair skeptical as to whether or not I’m supposed to be excited about Candidate and President Clinton. And that was before her interview on the Daily Show a few weeks later, where she all but announced that she was running.

hillary-clinton-book-photo-hard-choicesWhether or not the Bible really is Hillary Clinton’s biggest intellectual influence, this is the answer a generic Republican presidential candidate gives. And they give it because the Bible is the only book a Republican can call their favorite without offending the religionists that are at the core of their party.

And while her answer may not have offended the far right — though it’s unclear if anyone who thinks the Bible is the most important influence on their life is going to vote for a candidate named Clinton — she offended me. And here’s why. Her answer was either craven, defensive, intellectually-empty politics at a time when we need newer, bigger ideas, or worse yet, it was an honest answer indicative of a public servant with seriously problematic and contradictory views on citizenship, power and morality.

Hillary Clinton has a chance to be different, and she’s already blowing it

Let’s first consider the very likely possibility that Hillary Clinton’s answer was bs.

When she officially announces her candidacy, Mrs. Clinton will be the strongest non-incumbent presidential candidate since Eisenhower across just about every metric we use to handicap our political horse races.

Additionally, thanks to the GOP’s failure to learn much from the last two elections, and its inability to compromise its ethnically problematic values when it comes to immigration (and women, and gays, and pretty much everybody else), she will have a built-in advantage in the Electoral College that surpasses the ones President Obama enjoyed in his two campaigns.

This doesn’t mean that the 2016 election cycle has to be boring. On the contrary, it means that Hillary Clinton may be the first presidential candidate in a very long time who can be a real person and still win.

For the next two years, the American people will pay close attention to every single word that comes out of Hillary Clinton’s mouth. Then, barring something truly disastrous on her part (à la Rick Perry), they will elect her President of the United States. While she can’t burn a flag and get away with it, there are a lot of things she can say that other candidates simply can’t because it would be too risky. Not coincidentally, those things are, in many cases, things the American people need to hear. This should be good news for us: Hillary Clinton has the luxury of being able to be the kind of candidate everyone says they want. She can treat voters like adults instead of lying to them about things that don’t matter, like her favorite book. In fact, she may even benefit politically by doing so, setting herself apart as the leader she claims to be, in contrast to whichever clearly phony challenger the GOP throws her way. Instead, she’s sounding all too familiar, and that troubles me.

Take electoral reform. In a speech last August, Mrs. Clinton slammed voter ID laws and the long lines seen in majority-minority precincts on Election Day 2012. That’s great, but playing defense on voter ID and voting machine allocation are small ideas when it comes to reforming an electoral system that, if implemented in a developing democracy, probably wouldn’t pass muster with an American election observer. Repeating those ideas adds nothing to our poorly developed national conversation concerning how we select our representatives. Mrs. Clinton has no doubt heard arguments concerning universal voter registration, democracy vouchers and other improvements on the way we handle our elections – she may even privately endorse some of them. She’s going to talk a lot over the course of the next two years about how our system of government needs fundamental changes in order to modernize for the 21st Century; I’ll be more impressed – and pleasantly surprised – if she gets real about what those changes are.

Or what about foreign policy, which is supposed to be her best case for the presidency? In the aforementioned appearance on the Daily Show, the woman who until recently was America’s top diplomat got her chance to talk about impediments to American diplomacy. Her diagnosis of the problem? We “have not been telling our story well,” and we need to “get back to” telling it. She then said that it was a mistake to “[withdraw] from the information arena,” implying that if only we met Russian propaganda in places like Ukraine with propaganda of our own, à la the Cold War, we’d have more respect abroad.

But there’s another problem with the argument. Mrs. Clinton was just our Secretary of State – and a rather hawkish one at that. If America’s international messaging has gone awry, why didn’t she fix it while she was foreign-policy-messenger-in-chief?

There are more nuanced, more serious answers to our foreign policy dilemmas, and Hillary Clinton is in a unique position to provide them. Either she knows more than she’s letting on and she’s treating us like children, or she doesn’t, and we’ve got bigger issues to deal with. Many of our leaders – certainly not all – have more knowledge and insight than the liberty, freedom and generic goodness mad-lib we get at Miss America pageants. Hillary Clinton is one of the most well-travelled, well-connected people in the world; it’s obvious when she’s holding back. (To her credit, the extended, online version of the interview includes an unaired, detailed exchange concerning the mechanics of Israel-Palestine negotiations, but the conversation was still devoid of vision and solutions.)

I know, I know, Mrs. Clinton is worried that she might repeat the mistakes of 2008, when she assumed she was inevitable and got caught off-guard by an underdog who outworked her. But she currently looks so concerned about underestimating her opponent(s) at the outset that she’s trying to run out the clock with more than two years left to go. If Clinton spends that long refusing to dig in when it comes to the big ideas surrounding American governance, she will be transparently flimsy as a candidate and vulnerable to questions concerning her credibility. Even if they don’t sink her candidacy, those questions will affect her ability to govern. Perhaps just as distressing, the American people will have missed an opportunity to be addressed by their leader as if they are a country that deserves their leader’s full attention.

When Hillary Clinton announces her candidacy, the first question she should be asked is whether or not there’s an issue she cares about strongly enough to lose the election over. I care less about what the answer is so long as it’s genuine.

God is a flip-flopperand a terrible policy wonk

But what if the Bible was her real answer? What if I’m getting all worked up and idealistic over intellectual honesty in the public sphere when Mrs. Clinton was, in fact, being completely honest?

This would be worse than if she were lying, because it would mean that she isn’t cold and calculating, but that instead she is anachronistic and unfit for leadership in the 21st Century.

For a long time, Hillary Clinton’s consideration of politics’ relationship with religion has been murky at best. As profiled in Mother Jones back in 2007, “Clinton’s God talk is more complicated—and more deeply rooted—than either fans or foes would have it, a revelation not just of her determination to out-Jesus the GOP, but of the powerful religious strand in her own politics.” She has strong ties to The Family, a secretive organization – bordering on cult – whose membership is primarily, but not exclusively, limited to the Religious Right, and whose mission is an American government that is one part theocratic and one part aristocratic. The organization certainly doesn’t come across as a group that would welcome people who just want to brush up their religious resume, so Mrs. Clinton’s affiliation with them makes it at least somewhat plausible that when she promotes the Bible she really means it.

Hillary Clinton’s religion has never been seriously vetted. No Republican candidate would ever go after someone for having ties to Jesus-freaks, and then-Senator Obama avoided religion as much as he could after the Reverend Wright news cycle(s). Interestingly, though, in a campaign marked by nastiness, Hillary Clinton stayed relatively quiet during the Reverend Wright saga, only remarking that she was offended by his remarks and wouldn’t have had him as a pastor. The reason for her relative restraint probably had something to do with the fact that, as far as cultish religious extremism goes, The Family makes Reverend Wright look like a Unitarian. President Obama had the good sense to unequivocally repudiate his sketchy religious association; if we demand the same of Mrs. Clinton, will she oblige?

When other members of The Family – Rick Santorum, Sam Brownback, Tom Coburn, Jim Demint, etc. – say mind-bogglingly dumb things in the name of Christianity, we have no problem recognizing how absurd they sound. We already know that it is wildly negligent for our leaders – especially one as respected as Hillary Clinton – to propagate the idea that the Bible is good political guidance. The President of the United States deals with issues that overlap with Biblical doctrine every day, and on issue after issue the Bible offers astoundingly bad advice for the modern era.

Hillary Clinton talks to Ron Johnson Benghazi

Hillary Clinton talks to Ron Johnson about Benghazi.

The Bible is, at best, contradictory when it comes to power and authority, which are central to The Family’s religious doctrine. We all know Mark 12:17 (“render unto Caesar what is Caesear’s and God what is God’s”), and Hebrews 13:17 endorses state authority as well (“Obey your leaders and submit to them”). But what about “All authority in Heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matthew 28:18), and “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29)? Titus 3:9 suggests that one should avoid legislating altogether, reading “avoid foolish…controversies about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless,” but Proverbs 29:2 rejects this sentiment, reading: “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice.” Daniel 2:21 tells believers that God is personally responsible for who is and is not placed in positions of authority, but Psalm 9:17 warns “nations that forget God” that they will be sent to Hell – presumably, God didn’t put their leaders there.

Of course, no citizen of the 21st Century strictly adheres to these anachronistic, mutually-exclusive commands and warnings, but that’s the point: either you adhere to them, or you aren’t really turning to the Bible for wisdom. The more seriously you take these verses, the less seriously you participate in modern society. Does Christian theology provide good guidance for forming agreeable, let alone sensible, policy when it comes to, say, marriage equality, an issue on which Hillary Clinton has been milquetoast at best? How about the Israel-Palestine conflict? Education? Will “do not take your own revenge… but leave room for the wrath of God” (Romans 12:19) square with America’s national security apparatus and commitments in a new Clinton administration? Of course not, and the success of a Hillary Clinton presidency – or any presidency, for that matter – depends on the degree to which this is recognized.

There isn’t a single political issue, domestic or foreign, that is in any way aided by reverence for the Bible. And, in most cases, belief only gets in the way. As someone who’s taken to saying – rightly, but very overtly – that she’s been to 112 countries in the past six years, in many cases for the purpose of ameliorating problems arising at least in part from policies motivated by religion, Hillary Clinton should know this as well as anyone. I hope she does. But then why is she saying what she’s saying?

Either way, I’m not impressed

So which is it? Did Hillary Clinton dumb herself down for Joe-the-Biblethumper, or is the Good Book really the greatest influence on her political decision-making process? Was her answer, as to which book most influenced her life, indicative of an intellectually dishonest politician or a dangerously honest religious powerbroker?

Hillary smacked Rumsfeld at today’s hearingNo matter which is the case, the need to express belief in order to be taken seriously as a politician can and does force otherwise smart people like Hillary Clinton to say profoundly and obviously dumb things. Mrs. Clinton has no need to sound like such a candidate, even when she is one, and yet she is already receding into a cynical, defensive political fetal position of empty patriotism and religion. She can do better, and we deserve better; especially if we’re going to be seeing a lot more of her for the next six years, if not the next decade.

While liberals around the country proclaim how #ReadyForHillary they are, they should be reminded from time to time that, aside from her gender, there’s nothing to be “ready” for. Hillary Clinton represents the same ideologies, dogmas and calculations that have marked mainstream politics for the last fifty years. So far, in her preliminary campaign, she has added nothing new to our collective conversation concerning how best to live together, and I see no reason to get my hopes up.

In the end, this all speaks to an insidious truth in American politics: America was ready for an African-American president, and it is ready for a female president. But it is not ready for an honest president, and it is not ready for an unbelieving president.

And I think that’s a damn shame.


Jon Green is a graduate of Kenyon College with a degree in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. A veteran of the campaigns of Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and President Obama in 2012, he writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @JonGreen8, and on Google+. .

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  • http://mikefinleywriter.com/ mfinley98

    Which does not get other voters automatically off the hook.

  • http://mikefinleywriter.com/ mfinley98

    How can a book that says that about fruits be considered homophobic? If you ask me that’s pretty modern.

  • http://mikefinleywriter.com/ mfinley98

    But, but … the Bible is incredibly influential, even on people who have substantially walked away from it. You got the 10 Commandments, a pretty cool original story, lots of amazing stories, some very amazing poetry (Ecclesiastes) and crazy prophecy (Isaiah and Jeremeia), the first novel (Ruth), a whale tale (Jonah), a hellacious amont of fucking and murdering, fratricide and global genocide, and on top of all that you got Jesus. What’s the classic competition … Shakespeare, which is often even harder to read, Little Women, which is trite, Emerson, weird and bizarre, Melville, even weirder although amazing, and still quite hard to read. (This is all assuming a book from history, a classic text.) Whitman is amazing, but not all the time, Mark twain, kind of bitter. Wouldnt we have been even more dismayed if she has said Susan Sontag or W E B DuBois?

  • mtblaze

    No apology necessary. I can see why my statement fired you up. I just want you to know that is not how I think. Cheers.

  • Mike_in_the_Tundra

    It’s rare to see a real apology in the blogosphere. That certainly raised my opinion of you. I will also apologize for coming down so hard on you. I hope that’s not what I’m really like. There should really be no concern about hurting me. I have developed a pretty thick skin over the years. I guess there was just one little knick that I didn’t know about.

  • slideguy

    All too often.

  • http://www.americablog.com/ Naja pallida

    Do things you did when you were 17-18 years old continue to define you now?

    Many young people adopt the politics of their parents. Some manage to grow out of it.

  • mtblaze

    I very sorry to hear that it was like a knife in your gut and I’m sorry for your experience. I didn’t know that gay soldiers couldn’t be more open than that. I really didn’t and don’t have an opinion about “gay men drooling over straight men” at all and I know that is not the case. I was trying to describe a mindset that led to very dicey legislation. I’m sorry that I hurt you.

  • Mike_in_the_Tundra

    You most definitely misunderstood what I wrote. The homophobia was your interpretation of DADT. It was your opinion that the “Don’t tell” meant that gay soldiers couldn’t come on to straight soldiers. Gay men don’t go around drooling over straight men. We can appreciate the beauty of handsome males. It doesn’t matter if they are gay or straight. However, we are only going to come on to the men we feel are gay. Rarely, a gay man will accidentally come on to a straight guy, because the straight guy gave off a gay vibe.

    The purpose of the “Don’t tell” was to let gay service members know that their closet doors shouldn’t open a bit. I already told you about the photographs. The gay service members had to be certain to substitute “she’ for “he” when talking about their weekends, leaves, or nights out. In other words, always remember to substitute the female pronoun for the male pronoun if you are male. Obviously, female service members would have to do the opposite. All service members prayed they didn’t talk in their sleep.

    If service members were on leave and seen entering a gay bar, that was telling as well. Love letters had to be hidden where nobody could find them, because they will be looking. The “they” could be officers or fellow service members.

    Your comment concerning gay service members coming on to straight service members was like a knife in my gut.

  • mtblaze

    Good question. I take it that Jesus means a person’s sense of service to his fellow man, compassion, generosity of spirit and love. I think those traits tend to disappear when a person gets on the road to “gaining the whole world”.

  • BillFromDover

    What soul?

  • BillFromDover

    Where’s Elizabeth when we need her?

  • BillFromDover

    Who can run for any higher office as an atheist?

    There are 535 members in the U.S. congress… name one self-avowed non-believer.

    Gay, no problem. Atheist… fuck you!!!

    She’s about as much a christian as Obama is.

    Jesus Christ people, can’t ya recognize bullshit when ya read it?

  • mtblaze

    You’re so right. I especially like Jesus’s statement, “What profiteth a man to gain the whole world and yet lose his soul”.

  • Bluestocking

    I’ll see your Rick Warren and raise you a Donnie McClurkin…remember him? The self-styled “ex-gay man” who accompanied Obama on his campaign tour in South Carolina back in 2007? That was the moment when the scales really fell from my eyes and it became clear to me that Obama was not what he claimed to be. That being said, there was no way in hell I was going to vote for McCain…

  • Bluestocking

    With all due respect (speaking as someone who was also raised by Christian parents and is still influenced by that faith even though I no longer consider myself as belonging to it), I think the passage which says “by their fruits shall ye know them” is just as relevant…as is the one which states quite explicitly that just because someone claims to be Christian does not automatically mean that they will be accepted as one when they die.

  • Bluestocking

    Exactly. As I said to a friend of mine not too long ago, the corporate-owned mainstream media already appears to have tagged her as the heir apparent to the Democratic Party nomination — and in my opinion, if they love her, that’s a good reason to distrust her. I also haven’t forgotten the transparent and positively desperate tactics which she used during the 2012 presidential campaign — accusing Obama of being an “elitist” even though she herself was a Radcliffe graduate and trying to present herself as a perfectly ordinary “shot and a beer” type of woman. I mean, really…who the hell did she think she was kidding??

  • slideguy

    Remember, she used to campaign for Goldwater.

  • slideguy

    It’s pretty clear at this point that Clinton will say whatever she thinks we want to hear. What appalls me is that she’s taking thinking people for granted and trying to appeal the “swing voters”. The last three or four elections have made it pretty clear that swing voters are a myth, but she’s still buying it.

    Politics is tribal, and people vote for the tribe they’re loyal to. So electoral success is about getting out the vote. You have to get more of your tribe out than the other guy gets of his. Period. She’s trying to get Republicans to vote for her, and 6 plus years of watching Obama fail at appealing to Republicans hasn’t made an impression on her.

    Vote for this woman and big corporations, bankers and the military/industrial establishment will make out just fine.

  • Silver_Witch

    Thank you mtblaze…it was a pleasure have a nice conversation about Christians for a change.

  • mtblaze

    Thanks for this boatload of information.

  • mtblaze

    Thank you and I agree completely. Although I’m not a Christian, I know enough about Jesus’s teaching to realize that modern American Christians are anything but. I appreciate your kind reply.

  • mtblaze

    My uncle was a gay man in the Marines who lost his honorable discharge 20 years later when it was found that he was gay. I understand that may comment about straight soldiers was homophobic, but I was describing legislation that is homophobic so there it is. I am not homophobic.

  • Bill_Perdue

    Democrat politicians are, as so many people here state, are simply Republicans in drag. They were never part of the left, not during the FDR era or since.

    Obama is not just apathetic, he’s a union buster and so many Democrat governors like Brown and Cuomo and big city mayors like Rahm Emanuel in Chicago. Unions get busted by both parties. In point of fact Obama and the Democrats are doing their best to woo the .01% and attack unions, pandering and duplicating their betrayals of the antiwar movement, the Bill of Rights, the fight for socialized medicine and what they did to the LGBT communities for decades.

    Obama and Emanuel tried to bust the Chicago Teachers union. Obama appoints another union busters as his chief of staff: In these Times 01 29 12 “ Obama’s Union-Busting New Chief of Staff? Jacob Lew Helped Destroy Grad Students’ Union at NYU When Obama’s new Chief of Staff was NYU executive vice president, school ceased
    recognizing the grad students union”
    http://www.alternet.org/story/153935/obama’s_union-busting_new_chief_of_staff_jacob_lew_helped_destroy_grad_students’_union_at_nyu?page=entire

    Obama attacks airline and rail workers: LABORnotes 02 15 12“Two years after President Obama and Democrats abandoned labor’s much-anticipated Employee Free Choice Act, they have refused to block Republicans intent on making life miserable for airline and rail workers. A bill reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Administration, voted up 75-20 in the Senate, changes federal labor law to make organizing more difficult for railroad and airline unions. New rules will make it easier to decertify unions and harder to win elections when
    employers merge.”
    http://labornotes.org/2012/02/obama-democrats-deal-setback-airline-workers

    Obama attacks the UAW HuffPo 09 03 2010 “The White House is forcefully pushing back on former (Obama) car czar Steve Rattner’s upcoming book about his time in Washington, specifically the allegation that Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel once blurted “Fuck the UAW” when told that tens of thousands of autoworkers’ jobs were at stake in the restructuring of the auto industry.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/09/24/steven-rattner-interview-_n_737966.html

    NY Democrat Cuomo attacks unions AlterNet “On Tuesday, a group of nearly 2,000 union members and their supporters met Governor Andrew Cuomo in Albany, New York to protest his 2012-2013 budget proposal cutting pensions and benefits for workers…”
    http://www.alternet.org/rss/1/826218/unions_protest,_mic-check_pension-cutting_ny_governor_andrew_cuomo/

    California Democrat Brown attacks state workersSacramento Bee 05 16 2012“Questions swirl around Jerry Brown’s plan to cut state workers’ hours… Brown wants to move most of California’s 214,000 workers to four-day workweeks and 9.5-hour shifts starting July 1. The change would reduce state workers’ hours and pay by 5 percent each month and cut state payroll by about $839 million, $401 million of it from the deficit-ridden general fund…” http://www.sacbee.com/2012/05/16/v-print/4493111/questions-swirl-around-jerry-browns.html

    Obama attacks federal workers and postal workersLABORNotes 03 06 2012 “During the Obama administration, and especially during its first two years when Democrats controlled both houses of Congress, the alliance between unions and their political patrons began to wither. The Employee Free Choice Act, the law that would have eased union organizing drives, was shelved. When the administration bailed out the auto companies, it dictated wage cuts, plant closings, and tens of thousands of layoffs, and stripped workers’ right to strike. The health care bill attacked union-negotiated plans. A green-job transformation for the economy stalled. Then Obama announced in December 2010 that salaries for federal workers, already low compared to those of private-sector workers with similar education and longevity, would be frozen for years into the future http://labornotes.org/blogs/2012/03/labor-overlooks-bipartisan-attack-federal-workers%20

  • Bill_Perdue

    I think that’s wrong. There were large numbers of gays in the military during and after WWII. You should get a copy of Coming Out Under Fire, the History of Gay Men and Women in World War Two by Alan Berube.

    Attacks on LGBT folks in the military and elsewhere began with Truman’s loyalty oaths and witchcraft.

    DADT was never meant to protect them and the proof is in the stats on beatings, harassment and degrading discharges. They’re prodigious. We’re lucky that only one (that we know of) soldier was murdered while DADT was in force.

    DADT was the codification of military and Congressional bigotry. DOMA was even worse. Both were signed by the bigot Bill Clintons.

  • Silver_Witch

    That is not the form of Christianity practiced in this country — at least not by most Christians….in the event you find such a Christian to run for office – I would not hesitate to vote for them.

  • Mike_in_the_Tundra

    Do you really think that there were no gays in the military before DADT?

    Also, the “don’t tell” had nothing to do with straight soldiers. If a gay service member so much as had a picture of their significant other, that was telling. Your comment about straight soldiers was very homophobic. Believe it or not, I find straight men very boring. I would never come on to one. Many gay guys agree with me.

  • mtblaze

    I don’t agree with either DADT or DOMA, but I do remember before DADT came about, gays were not allowed in the military at all. I consider DADT to basically mean, “don’t harass gay soldiers (Don’t ask), and don’t come on to straight soldiers (Don’t tell). DADT allowed gays to enter into the military for the first time and has since been changed to eliminate the DADT part, so DADT was the actually the first opening of that door and does deserve some credit for that. I realize that it was a neanderthal position, but we live in such a society. I’m very glad to see the changes that are happening today and hope DOMA gets completely eliminated soon.

  • mtblaze

    I appreciate your perspective on the loss of true Democratic values by the party. I can’t remember when a major candidate actually followed the party platform. I will, however, vote for any Democrat just to keep Republicans out of office. Green Party and etc. sounds good, but how are they going to win any Federal election unless we have instant run-off voting (which I absolutely support). I would absolutely support a true Liberal candidate (Bernie Sanders comes to mind).

    I am a union man and do decry the apathy towards unions by President Obama. I’m not sure that Hillary would show the same apathy, but we won’t know until the rubber meets the road.

    Thanks for your kind response.

  • Bill_Perdue

    Right now only about 1/3 to 1/2 of the eligible electorate stay home. Fewer of them will avoid elections as the left and the union movement give them alternatives to the empire building, anti-immigrant racism, unemployment, underemployment and poverty that are the result of the policies of the Democrats and Republicans.

    The electoral challenges we won in Washington and Ohio are likely to be repated in local elections across the country this fall. http://www.labornotes.org/2013/12/2013-review-aiming-higher-labor-tries-new-angles-and-alliances

  • mtblaze

    What if the politician spontaneously follows the ethic of judge not lest ye be judged, love thy neighbor as you love thyself, thou shalt not kill, the love of money is the root of all evil, treat the least among you as you would treat me, pray in private – not in public, swear no oaths, but let yes be yes and no be no – instead of learning it from the Bible? Would those influences adversely affect your life?

  • mtblaze

    I disagree. I think that good party politics have disappeared and that’s the problem. Name a current Democrat who follows the Democratic platform. If we had politicians that actually did support and implement the Democratic platform we would be much better off.

  • mtblaze

    Gandhi said, “An eye for an eye leaves everybody blind”. Votes for none of the above leaves us with nobody as President.

  • mtblaze

    I am not a Christian but I was raised by Christian parents and I’ve been greatly and positively influenced by images of the Peaceable Kingdom, Christ’s call to treat others as you would treat him, his concern for the poor, his dispute with the money lenders, his call to turn the other cheek and return love for hatred. The good Christian ethic of the Bible (and there are bad passages as well) still speaks volumes even with the failure of so many Christians in our society to actually apply the teaching. Hillary has claimed the Bible as her main influence for many, many years.

    I think the passage that says “Judge not lest ye be judged” could be a great influence on this site.

  • mtblaze

    Thank you.

  • mtblaze

    Thanks for a reasonable post. Hillary has claimed the Bible as her main influence for many years. I also thank you for knowing that you don’t throw the baby of Christian ethic out with the bathwater of failed Christianity.

  • FLL

    I’m waiting for a president who refuses to attend the National Prayer Breakfast. That will be a milestone, but we haven’t gotten there yet because every president so far has attended.

  • Mike F

    Anyone who votes for this theocratic Dominionist shill is an idiot. That’s all I really need to say.

  • http://www.americablog.com/ Naja pallida

    Pretty much everyone in Washington attends their prayer groups. They’re the ones who organize the National Prayer Breakfasts, and the various other similar events, which are basically just conservative lobbying in religious drag.

  • Wilberforce

    The article is pure cynicism. How do you know what is in Clinton’s heart?
    The bible is one of the major traditions in this country, and though it’s been trashed by fundamentalism, it’s still an ethical guide for many.

  • 2karmanot

    Hellery Clinton, who knew?

  • Demosthenes

    What a surprise! Shocking! A politician pretending to be religious to get votes!

  • Indigo

    All true but you know, given the current political climate on both sides of the aisle, I’m convinced that Hillary is the one who can make our emerging police state an effective, nearly non-partisan tool of government. Better yet, she has the insider connections that can make the entire FBI-CIA-NSA Homeland Security tangle disappear back into the woodwork. Not that they should but that she’s got the mojo to take it all off the table. What we don’t see can’t hurt us, after all. That’s the America Way. Isn’t it?

  • nicho

    It really doesn’t make much difference, except on the margins. Either Republican or Democrat will follow the same agenda. I compare it to the War of the Roses. you can get excited over one camp or the other, but no matter who wins, we’re screwed. The system is broken. Until we fix the system, it really doesn’t matter whether it’s Hillary, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, whoever.

  • nicho

    Yeah, but Hillary could run a school on opportunism for politicians. She is a past master.

  • nicho

    Yeah, they were “dead broke” — and in 12 months had a net worth of $35 million. See, any American who puts their mind to it can do the same thing.

  • LisaRBoyd

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  • nicho

    Well, in the New Testament, Jesus not only condones, but recommends, embezzlement and insider trading. So what’s not for her to like. Oh, and Hill&Bill, Inc. pander without shame. So, this is just a focus group tested answer.

  • irmaagregg

    my co-worker’s mother-in-law makes $79 an hour on the
    internet . She has been fired for 8 months but last month her pay was $13333
    just working on the internet for a few hours. take a look at the site here J­a­m­2­0­.­C­O­M­

  • The_Fixer

    Jon, you are correct that it’s a bad outcome either way. Personally, I think it’s BS.

    Ms. Clinton is just as any other politician is – an opportunist and a bullshit artist. She isn’t quite as artful and glad-handy as her husband was/is, but she’s cut from the same cloth.

    Furthermore, my intelligence is insulted when she says such things. Electing her would be more of the same. I just wish there was a better candidate who has a decent chance of winning in the mix.

    It’s downright discouraging.

  • SkippyFlipjack

    I don’t actually have a big problem with her answer. Note that she said she was raised memorizing passages from it. Of course that had to be influential. The fact is, the question itself is f*cking ridiculous. “What book has had the most impact on you.” What kind of simpleton is influenced by a single book? There are probably plenty of people with really good answers — people who took a mind-expanding road trip after reading “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” or made a big love decision after reading “The Alchemist” or whatever — but for the rest of us, we were shaped by a multitude of reading material.

    An Argentinian Catholic asked me once what religion I was and I answered “I was raised Presbyterian”, a nod at atheism that he seemed to appreciate since he was sitting next to his Catholic father but had probably strayed from their teaching. I think this is what Hilary is saying — it influenced my life when I was young, and now I appreciate its aphorisms but don’t take it literally.

  • Kenny

    I’ve been a Tibetan Buddhist for 20 years, but the Bible and my Christian upbringing still has had an impact. It has nothing to do with the individual Biblical passages, but the Christian ethic of love and forgiveness–which, incidentally, led me to the Dharma and for which I am grateful. So what, Ms Clinton is a Methodist and finds comfort in Biblical passages. I do too.

    Now, having ties to the creepy Family IS a problem, so perhaps people should ask her about it and give her a chance to renounce her ties. Who knows the extent and nature of those ties. Last time I heard, it was more of a sex cult–for married guys to get their groove on, but not with their wives.

  • Baal

    Not sure I can see a hard lurch to the right in the 1990s. The party was never that far to the left to begin with.

  • http://www.americablog.com/ Naja pallida

    If I was her, I’d have picked “The Pet Goat”.

  • Bookbinder

    I’m shocked, shocked, I tell you. What was she gonna pick, “Little Red Riding Hood?” And i don’t even support her.. One Clinton was more than enough.
    But one thing is clear. She should never, ever wear a pony tail again.

  • Silver_Witch

    You may be influenced by the bible, but you my friend are not running for office…so you beliefs do not affect/effect my life – so more power to you. If Hillary Clinton is elected to President she will be able to have a profound impact on my life and that will not be okay.

  • Silver_Witch

    Either way Hillary Clinton looses. She is either a republican in democrat clothing or she is a fibber. So which do we need in the White House a Christian Hawk, or someone who believes it okay to lie to the dirty masses.

    No thank you to either.. We better start vetting a Democrate. How about Bernie, Elizabeth or for dare I say Franken.

  • Matt Rogers

    I don’t think pollysi is saying that s/he would be incapable of introspection and compassion without the Bible, or would think it’s OK to treat people like shit. I agree with you that politicians and theocrats are using the Bible as an excuse to be ruthlessly unethical. Just not seeing what you seem to see in pollysi’s post.

  • Bill_Perdue

    I’d amend that to replace ‘people’ with the political positions that people take.

    Things are changing very rapidly in favor of the left.

  • Bill_Perdue

    Warren is a zionist. ” Warren’s statement on Israel consumes far more
    space than any other foreign policy issue on the page (she makes no mention of
    China, Latin America, or Africa). To justify what she calls the
    “unbreakable bond” between the US and Israel, Warren repeats the thoughtless
    cant about “a natural partnership resting on our mutual commitment to
    democracy and freedom and on our shared values.” She then declares that
    the United States must reject any Palestinian plans to pursue statehood outside
    of negotiations with Israel. While the US can preach to the Palestinians about
    how and when to demand the end of their 45-year-long military occupation,
    Warren says the US “cannot dictate the terms” to Israel. … Warren
    goes on to describe Iran as “a significant threat to the United
    States,” echoing a key talking point of fear-mongering pro-war
    forces. “ https://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/02/26-8 and http://english.al-akhbar.com/

    She also supports Obama’s nomination of war criminals and representatives of the rich.

    She’s Obama redux, just as Obama is Nixon redux.

  • Bill_Perdue

    DADT and DOMA are more harmful examples of Democrats walking in lockstep with Republicans, as are Clinton’s promotion and signature on NAFTA and the deregulation bills of 1999 and 2000, which, combined with NAFTA, are the chief causes of the crash of 2007.

    All of them became law with nary a peep of protest from Hillary Clinton, a bonafide right wing religious loon. He use of religion to fit in with the Democrat/Republican right is well documented in Hillary’s Prayer: Hillary Clinton’s Religion and Politics – For 15 years, Hillary Clinton has been part of a secretive religious group that seeks to bring Jesus back to Capitol Hill.” http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2007/09/hillarys-prayer-hillary-clintons-religion-and-politics

  • Bill_Perdue

    Voting is never going to produce the kind of real change we need. “If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal.” – Emma Goldman

    the only thing less effective than voting is not voting. Very funny. Welcome the worlds biggest banana republic.

    At best elections reflects the desire for change but not the reality of change. As soon as they get in office Democrats and Republicans inevitable and always betray those who voted for ‘hope and change’.

    If you really, really think it’s necessary to vote you can always write in someone. My favorite remains Chelsea Manning because of the brutality she faces at the hands of Obama and his Ribbentrop, Hillary Clinton.

  • Max_1

    People need to stop voting “PARTY” and start thinking about “PEOPLE”!
    We’ve lost “OF, FOR and BY…” because of “PARTY”.

  • 2karmanot

    ROTFL

  • Alpha 50327

    Fair enough, but the only thing less effective than voting is not voting.

  • Quilla

    Oh, darn, Hillary. The Bible? Seriously?

    Go Elizabeth Warren!

  • FLL

    OK, maybe she was not a publicly acknowledged member of The Family, but the Daily Beast article and many other sources acknowledge that Hillary often attended their prayer groups.

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    I don’t think Hillary is the sure thing the media portrays her to be. I do know people who blindly love the Clintons, but I don’t find that much enthusiasm beyond that. Also, sales of her new book are not that good. Hillary is the past. I’d like for us to look for someone new. The “usual suspect” candidate almost always loses and I think both parties would do well to look for new faces for 2016. That’s probably not going to happen given how the money works in politics these days, but both parties would do better without one of the ass clowns from 2008 and 2012 primaries dragging their proverbial luggage behind them.

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    On paper, yes. They also had pending multi-million dollar book deals and lucrative speaking tours on the horizon. Also what Senators are paid is not chump change for 3/4 of Americans. She wasn’t broke in the sense that any working person understands that term, meaning no money, no money coming in and bills that aren’t going to get paid.

  • just_AC

    1: Can you IIMAGINE how much Barry is going to charge? In some ways, I do believe that the Clinton’s were almost bankrupt when he left office – I had looked at that LONG before she came out with her teary exchange. BUT they had enormous more capabilities to turn that around quickly. Let’s say Billie and I both go for a $1,000,000 loan, who the hell do you think is gonna get that loan?

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    It would appear, no, not a member — but starting in the 1990s, the Dems began their hard lurch to the right and pandering to the fundamentalists quickly became routine. Hence saying nice thing about them, coming out in favor of education vouchers for private schools (including Christian ones), attending prayer meetings and breakfasts, etc.

    Remember Obama’s bromance with Rick Warren?

  • Bill_Perdue

    It doesn’t matter, whoever the Democrats (and Republicans) nominate will be openly rightist or, like FDR, Truman, Clinton and Obama, a stalking horse for the right and the rich (except FDR, who was rich himself).

    I live in Nevada and I’ll vote for “none of the above” because that’s preferable to voting for warmongers, racists and union busters any day of the week.

    http://vimeo.com/52860939

    My advice is this – on Tuesday, the 4th of November, 2014 and on Tuesday, the 8th of November, 2016 vote socialist, vote for referendums for a decent minimum wage, write in Chelsea Manning or just sit it out as a protest vote.

  • FLL

    During the 1990s, wasn’t Hillary a member of the fundamentalist Christian club in Washington D.C. named “The Family?”

    Edit: I found a good summary article at “The Daily Beast”:

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/02/25/obama-the-family-and-uganda-s-anti-gay-christian-mafia.html

  • Alpha 50327

    Out of curiosity, who would you like to see the Dems put up for 2016? I think it’s true any anyone who wants to be president and goes thru what it takes to become president should be immediately disqualified from being president. Nonetheless, who would you vote for?

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Slight correction: Hillary Clinton had ample opportunities to be different, but blew them all off.

    That statement wasn’t ‘predictable’ — it was pandering so naked only it’s cravenness and blatancy made it notable.

  • Indigo

    Politicians are opportunists.
    Hillary is a politcian.
    Ergo, Hillary is an opportunist.

    Gosh! Who knew?

  • http://www.americablog.com/ Naja pallida

    It may be where you first saw the concepts in print, but if you had no access to the Bible, would you really not understand to not treat other people like shit? Without the Bible you wouldn’t be capable of introspection or compassion? That simple morality is not the sole providence of Christianity, and the Bible is certainly not the reason it exists… but the Bible is being actively used in our politics as an excuse to do the opposite.

  • Bill_Perdue

    Noting new here. Hillary Clinton has always been a union busting, warmongering rightist.

    She’s always been Hillary Clinton a right wing christer loon. http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2007/09/hillarys-prayer-hillary-clintons-religion-and-politics

    She’s a graduate of the Wal-Mart school of union busting and scabbery. She sat on the Wal-Mart board of directors for six years while Bill Clinton was using the office of Governor of Arkansas to spread the influence of Wal-Mart across the country. Later, by championing and signing NAFTA, he helped Wal-Mart infest the world. “At least eight universities, including four public institutions, have paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for Hillary Rodham Clinton to speak on their campuses over the past year, sparking a backlash from some student groups and teachers at a time of austerity in higher education.

    In one previously undisclosed transaction, the University of Connecticut — which just raised tuition by 6.5 percent — paid $251,250 from a donor fund for Clinton to speak on campus in April. Other examples include $300,000 to speak at the University of California at Los Angeles in March and $225,000 for a speech scheduled for October at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas.” http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/at-time-of-austerity-eight-universities-spent-top-dollar-on-hillary-clinton-speeches/2014/07/02/cf1d1070-016a-11e4-b8ff-89afd3fad6bd_story.html

    The Clintons are subsidized by Wal-Mart through Wal-Marts contributions’ to the Clinton Foundation and speaking fees that can go for $200,000.00 a shot. It’s the corporations way of saying thank you for NAFTA, DOMA, DADT and deregulation. Chelsea Clinton is the Vice Chair of Clinton Foundation. It’s the family business scam.

    Hillary Clintons political role in the 2008 primaries shifted from being HRH Hillary Clinton to a mean spirited race baiter as Obama surged ahead in the polls. She played the race card against
    Obama every chance she got.

    She’s a venomous and destructive warmonger in the tradition of Bill Clinton and the Bushes. She played Ribbentrop to Obama’s efforts to attack Palestine, Libya, Pakistan, Yemen, Bahrain (regional base of the US and U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and United States Fifth Fleet) and Afghanistan. She was a key player in Obama’s effort to play out the occupation of Iraq until the US was forced out by Iraqi threats to indict US military and mercenary forces for war crimes.
    U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and United States Fifth Fleet.

    She and Obama were enraged when Chelsea Manning exposed their role as war criminals and empire builders. Chelsea Manning was tortured and jailed. Chelsea Manning should have gotten
    medals and the Nobel Peace Prize for her heroism.

    She’s never apologized for her homophobia.

    The left couldn’t ask for a better object lesson in the utter senselessness and assured destructiveness of folly of the lesser evil idiocy.

  • http://heimaey.us/ heimaey

    Yes and it’s hardly ever pointed out that the scribes who wrote the NT down had a very rudimentary grasp of Greek.

  • Dave of the Jungle

    My parents dragged me to a Billy Graham Crusade in 1968 when Richard Nixon was running for President. He appeared on the stage with Graham and gave a little speech. Even though I was only 14, I thought, “What a crock.”

    I still think it’s a crock when politicians make claims of inspiration from the Bible; even if it’s a candidate I would vote for.

  • pollysi

    If I were asked the same question, I would have to also say the Bible. I was raised in a moderately liberal Christian home and a church where the emphasis was strongly on Jesus’s message to love your neighbor. I can’t think of another book that has influenced my life as deeply. I constantly look at policy through the Christian lens. . . Proverbs 14:31, Matthew 25:35, I John 3:17-18. . . . I’m not really much of a believer, but the Christian ethic at its highest form permeates my life. Much as I love Jane Austen, her novels don’t make me think constantly about my actions.

  • http://www.americablog.com/ Naja pallida

    Not to mention, it was carefully hand assembled by rejecting literally dozens of potential chapters. None of which really had any more or less legitimacy than those that were eventually included. Anything that didn’t mesh with the patriarchy and politics of the time was simply tossed aside, if not outright erased from history. Then the whole thing was translated through multiple languages, with translators putting their own biased interpretations in. If any other book was so blatantly self-contradictory and edited by committee and randomly changed a hundred times in a hundred ways to suit the politics and personal interpretations of the editors, it’d be the mockery of the literary world and relegated to the clearance bin at used book stores. Lost amid a pile of copies of Decision Points.

  • http://heimaey.us/ heimaey

    There’s really nothing of value to quote from the Bible when you know it’s true history. If people were only more educated on theology.

  • http://heimaey.us/ heimaey

    So a book written thousands of year ago that contradicts itself constantly (in both Testaments – not just the OT&NT) is her go to book? Also the NT was basically written as a fuck you to Rome which was then copped by the Romans who completely made up the part about a sympathetic Pilate to help the cult grow in the RE. WHAAAT?

  • Jimmy

    I always consider this answer utter political BS, even from Republicans. If these people are truly influences by the teachings of the Bible, or more specifically for Christians, Jesus Christ then they’ve completely missed the point. Can they even quote anything from the bible other than Genesis 1:1 or John 3:16?

  • Baal

    This annoys the crap out of me. It is the single most incoherent collection of texts than anyone generally reads, and I am wondering what morality one draws from, say, the story of Satan and God wagering on how much poor Job can take, as in the movie Trading Places? A pissed off Jesus cursing a fig tree because it did not have fruit out of season? God ordering genocide and then taking retribution when it isn’t total? A bunch of dessert tribesmen treacherously wiping out their friendly neighbors who just got circumcised as an act of good will and whose dicks were still sore? Lot’s daughters getting drunk and then fucking him? Or Lot offering to allow a raging mob to rape his daughters because they wanted to fuck the handsome angel who was traveling with him?

    But yes, in America all politicians think they have to bow before this ridiculous book.

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    She’s always been very chummy with that C Street bunch. This is not a surprise.

  • caphillprof
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