Democrats

What does she really believe? AP takes a shallow dive into Hillary Clinton's faith

What does she really believe? AP takes a shallow dive into Hillary Clinton's faith

The headline is nice.

The headline stirs my curiosity.

The headline entices me to click.

As I dive into this week's Associated Press story on Hillary Clinton's faith, I'm hopeful of learning more about what makes the Democratic presidential frontrunner tick — from a religious standpoint.

Here at GetReligion, of course, this topic has come up before.

In the latest story, the lede sets the scene:

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Sunday mornings at Baptist churches fall right into Hillary Clinton's comfort zone.
"This is the day the Lord has made," Clinton said recently at Grace Baptist Church in Mount Vernon, New York, as sunshine streamed through the stained-glass windows and hit the packed pews. "Being here at this church with these beautiful people, knowing how grateful I am for this spring day. I feel blessed and grace is all around us."
Black Baptist churches may not seem like an obvious match for Clinton, a white Methodist from the Chicago suburbs. But the Democratic presidential candidate, who's been criticized for her tentative, even awkward political skills, often seems most at ease in houses of worship. It's where she's shared her faith for many years and earned a loyal following.
"One thing not a lot of people really understand about her is the central role of faith in her life," said Mo Elleithee, Clinton's spokesman in her 2008 White House campaign.

OK, you have my attention. Please tell me more.

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The good, the bad and the funny in media coverage of Ted Cruz's 'Muslim neighborhoods' remarks

The good, the bad and the funny in media coverage of Ted Cruz's 'Muslim neighborhoods' remarks

Once again, Muslims in America are the focus of intense scrutiny — and they're not exactly happy about it.

Even in the immediate aftermath of Tuesday's Brussels terror attacks, we knew this storyline was coming, of course.

In our post yesterday, we stressed:

Key, again, is factual reporting that highlights the various strains of Islam (as we have said a million times, there is "no one Islam") and avoids the simplistic "Islamophobia" propaganda that plagued so much of the coverage last time.

As the world focused its thoughts and prayers on the Belgium victims, the U.S. presidential race took no break at all.

In case you missed it — and I promise this is not from the satirical newspaper The Onion — Republicans Donald Trump and Ted Cruz engaged in a Twitter spat over each other's wives.

But that wasn't the only news the candidates made Tuesday: How to prevent terrorism on U.S. soil again dominated the GOP rhetoric, and Muslims again figured heavily in the discussion.

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Hillary Clinton takes to Flint, Mich., pulpit, and New York Times brings its King James language

Hillary Clinton takes to Flint, Mich., pulpit, and New York Times brings its King James language

I traveled to Flint, Mich., over the weekend to report for The Christian Chronicle on that city's lead-tainted water crisis.

While meeting with a source Sunday afternoon, she mentioned that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton had come to Flint that day to speak at a black Baptist church. We decided to swing by the House of Prayer Missionary Baptist Church, and I snapped a picture of Clinton leaving that I posted on Instagram.

Since I didn't actually hear Clinton speak, I was curious what she said and checked the news coverage — my GetReligion antenna up and ready to spot any holy ghosts.

Clinton's description of the poisoned water in Flint as "immoral" was the soundbite that caught the media's attention — and rightly so.

This was the lede from NBC News:

FLINT, Michigan — Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton called for "action now" to combat the toxic water crisis here Sunday in a speech to a packed congregation.
"This has to be a national priority," Clinton said at the House of Prayer Missionary Baptist Church. "What happened in Flint is immoral. The children of Flint are just as precious as the children of any part of America."

And from the Detroit Free Press:

FLINT — Solving the problems of contaminated water in Flint has to remain a local, state and national priority for the foreseeable future, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton told city residents gathered in a Baptist church Sunday afternoon.
"Clean water is not optional, my friends. It’s not a luxury," she said. "This is not merely unacceptable or wrong. What happened in Flint is immoral. Children in Flint are just as precious as children in any part of America."

So was there any spiritual component to Clinton's remarks at the church? We noted last month that Clinton, a United Methodist, doesn't often discuss her faith on the campaign trail.

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Washington Post describes Bernie Sanders as a normal, cultural Jew (with a few mysteries)

Washington Post describes Bernie Sanders as a normal, cultural Jew (with a few mysteries)

Long, long ago -- during my graduate-school time at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign -- I took a readings course in what the faculty called post-Holocaust Jewish sociology and ethics. It was, needless to say, an interesting experience for a guy who grew up in Texas as the son of a Southern Baptist pastor.

During that course I learned, as one scribe put it, that the most "controversial issue in modern Judaism is God." Years later, in Denver, I learned that you can put "marriage" near the top of that list of hot-button issues -- "intermarriage" to be precise.

I also remember thinking that, in many ways, being Jewish in New York City was -- in a strange way -- rather like being a Baptist in Texas.

Say what? Well, there are so many Baptists in Texas that it's impossible to stick any one label on them. There are Baptists in Texas who are to the right of the Rev. Jerry Falwell (junior or senior) and there are Texas Baptists who are theologically to the left of the local Episcopalians.

This brings me to that very interesting Washington Post story that ran under the headline, "Why Bernie Sanders doesn’t participate in organized religion."

Growing up, Bernie Sanders followed the path of many young American Jews. He went to Hebrew school, was bar mitzvahed and traveled to Israel to work on a kibbutz.
But as an adult, Sanders drifted away from Jewish customs. And as his bid for the White House gains momentum, he has the chance to make history. Not just as the first Jewish president -- but as one of the few modern presidents to present himself as not religious.

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Surprise! Hillary Clinton talks faith on the campaign trail, and CNN joins Trump in botching Corinthians (updated)

Surprise! Hillary Clinton talks faith on the campaign trail, and CNN joins Trump in botching Corinthians (updated)

Wednesday afternoon update: Looks like CNN has corrected the mistakes we pointed out. Who says GetReligion doesn't get action?

• • •

Evangelicals' role in Iowa's Republican presidential contest seems to make nonstop headlines. That's not the case on the Democratic side.

Hillary Clinton has said advertising her faith "doesn't come naturally to me."

In a story this week on how the two major parties can't agree on the issues, let alone the solutions, the Washington Post noted:

At the Democratic debate, no candidate said the words “God,” “Christian,” “Bible” or “scripture,” and the three — Clinton, Sanders and former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley — do not commonly use such words in their speeches.
By contrast, the Republican candidates tend to wear their faith on their sleeves, in part to win over conservative Christian voters in Iowa and other states.
Donald Trump brings his childhood Bible with him to some campaign rallies and holds it as a prop, although the billionaire mogul drew mockery when he botched a reference to Second Corinthians during a recent speech to students at Liberty University, the Christian college in Virginia founded by televangelist Jerry Falwell.
Former Florida governor Jeb Bush often talks about his Catholic faith and carries a rosary on the campaign trail.
And Cruz, whose father is a born-again Christian and travels the country preaching, has taken to quoting scripture in his stump speeches. He cites Second Chronicles 7:14 and urges his supporters to find time every day to pray for the country’s future.
“Just one minute when you wake up in the morning,” Cruz says. “When you’re shaving. When you’re having lunch. When you’re tucking your kids into bed.”

So when a voter asked Clinton about her faith Monday and the candidate responded with a rather detailed answer, I'm surprised no one yelled, "STOP THE PRESSES!" (I kid. I kid.)

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One thing seems clear: When it comes to religion, America is getting less 'mushy'

One thing seems clear: When it comes to religion, America is getting less 'mushy'

When it comes to the fine print in polling about politics and religion, journalists are always looking for sources who have the ability to connect the dots and then explain the connections in language that can be understood by news consumers (and news editors, too).

Oh, right. It also helps when they have a good track record when it comes to being right.

So with that in mind, let's take a trip back in time with John C. Green of the University of Akron, a major player in years of Pew Forum polling. This trip is linked to the second wave of Pew Forum data linked to the "nones," a blast of numbers that is getting lots of news attention this week. Earlier today, our own Richard Ostling offered a memo on this topic.

The year was 2008 and Green paid a visit to my Washington Journalism Center classroom to brief a circle of international journalists on some trends in American religion and, yes, politics. What ended up on our whiteboard that day?

On the right side of the American religious marketplace, defined in terms of doctrine and practice, is a camp of roughly 20 percent (maybe less) of believers who are seriously trying to practice their chosen faith at the level of daily life, said Green. Then, on the other end of the spectrum, there is a growing camp of people who are atheists, agnostics or vaguely spiritual believers who define their beliefs primarily in terms of the old doctrines that they no longer believe. This is especially true when it comes to issues of salvation and sex. As the old saying goes, on these issues these spiritual-but-not-religious believers reject all absolute truths except the statement that there are no absolute truths.
In recent national elections this growing camp of secularists and religiously unaffiliated people have formed a powerful coalition with Catholic liberals, liberal Jews and the declining numbers of people found in America's liberal religious denominations (such as the "seven sisters" of oldline Protestantism). Add it all up ... and you had a growing camp of roughly 20 percent or so on the cultural left.
The bottom line: This coalition was emerging as the dominant voice in the modern Democratic Party on matters of culture and religion.

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Label this! Pope tells Congress everything starts with defense of human life -- period

Label this! Pope tells Congress everything starts with defense of human life -- period

There's no question that, for those reading the Pope Francis address to Congress through the lens of politics, the most newsworthy passages were his explicit references to immigration and climate change. Why? These words pointed to wedge issues between Democrats and Republicans that will almost certainly play a major role in the 2016 elections.

Also, there were powerful passages about the death penalty and the blood money earned through the international arms trade.

It was a remarkable scene, all the way around. What are the other nominations for a list of the deepest and most philosophical speeches ever delivered to Congress?

However, if you look at the pope's remarks through the lens of doctrine -- as Francis urged reporters to do days earlier -- then the crucial passage, the thesis statement, was this one:

We need to avoid a common temptation nowadays: to discard whatever proves troublesome. Let us remember the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Mt 7:12).

This Rule points us in a clear direction. Let us treat others with the same passion and compassion with which we want to be treated. Let us seek for others the same possibilities which we seek for ourselves. Let us help others to grow, as we would like to be helped ourselves. In a word, if we want security, let us give security; if we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities. The yardstick we use for others will be the yardstick which time will use for us. The Golden Rule also reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development.

This conviction has led me, from the beginning of my ministry, to advocate at different levels for the global abolition of the death penalty. I am convinced that this way is the best, since every life is sacred, every human person is endowed with an inalienable dignity ...

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Doctrine vs. politics: Think pieces to ponder during this week of Pope Francis

Doctrine vs. politics: Think pieces to ponder during this week of Pope Francis

Every now and then, normally on weekends, your GetReligionistas point readers toward what we call "think pieces" -- editorial features (as opposed to hard news) about topics that are directly linked to religion news and/or the mainstream press coverage of religion news.

As you would imagine, there has been a ton of this kind of writing this week with the pope visiting the media-rich Acela zone between Washington, D.C., and New York City. 

Pope Francis set the agenda for this in that off-the-cuff Shepherd One chat with reporters in which he tried to explain, well, as the headline from Time stated -- "Pope Francis: I Am Not a Liberal." The top of that essay added:

As Pope Francis flew to the United States for the first time, the pontiff assured journalists on the flight that he is not a liberal. Asked to comment on the many media outlets who are asking if the Pope is liberal, the Pope seemed bemused and decisive.
“Some people might say some things sounded slightly more left-ish, but that would be a mistake of interpretation,” he said before landing in the U.S. ... “If you want me to pray the creed, I’m willing to do it.”
He underscored the point: “It is I who follows the church … my doctrine on all this … on economic imperialism, is that of the social doctrine of the church.”

Did you see what happened there? Hint: It's pretty much whatever happens when a pope delivers a major address in a setting that journalists consider newsworthy, only this time the process was in reverse.

The journalists, thinking politics (the ultimate reality in the real world), asked the pope why "media outlets" think he is a liberal and the pope, starting with a remark about praying the creed, responded in terms of doctrine.

The key phrase is "my doctrine on all of this."

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Kim Davis is in WHAT political party? A classic New York Times correction

Kim Davis is in WHAT political party? A classic New York Times correction

So be honest. Did you or did you not see this one coming?

We start with another New York Times report about that Rowan County clerk who sits in jail waiting for the Kentucky legislature to tweak the state's laws to work smoothly with both the 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court decision backing same-sex marriage and our nation's strong First Amendment history of support for the free exercise of religious convictions.

The story ends with a classic laugh-to-keep-from-crying correction that created some buzz in social media. First, the usual:

The clerk, Kim Davis of Rowan County, Ky., was ordered detained for contempt of court and later rejected a proposal to allow her deputies to process same-sex marriage licenses that could have prompted her release.

Once again, it would help if readers were informed that Kentucky law currently says -- according to the fine details buried in news reports -- that the county clerk's name has to be on a marriage license in order for it to be official. From the perspective of Kim Davis, that fact requires her to actively endorse same-sex unions, even if someone else hands out the licenses.

Thus, she balked. No one needs to agree with her stance in order to accurately report the link between the details of the Kentucky law and her act of conscience. The bottom line: Details of Kentucky laws are still important in Kentucky.

Will the governor, a Democrat, hear the calls of Democrats and Republicans for a special session to change the state's laws to protect the rights of gay couples seeking marriage as well as traditional believers in Christianity, Judaism, Islam, etc.? That's the story.

Back to the story. Here comes the highly symbolic correction:

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