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."
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.
If you read the Washington Post's report on Clinton in Flint, there's no indication that she referenced the Bible. The same is true of the Free Press story mentioned earlier. That's partly understandable, as Clinton's 17-minute speech (sermon?) is mostly political.
But if you click the video link above, you'll notice that the first words out of Clinton's mouth are from Psalm 118:24: "Well, this is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it."
Clinton started her remarks the way she often does in a house of worship, with a psalm: "This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it," she said, quoting Psalm 118:24.
And the New York Times — pulling out King James language — reported:
Mrs. Clinton began her remarks Sunday by reciting Psalm 118:24: “This is the day the Lord hath made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” She also met with local pastors before heading back to Manchester, N.H., for the last dash of campaigning before the primary in that state on Tuesday.
I'm not sure which Bible version the Old Gray Lady intended to quote. Perhaps the Times reporter thought he heard Clinton say "hath" and not "has." This is the way that verse reads in the King James Version:
This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.
Clinton didn't actually cite the book, chapter and verse, but her audience recognized the Scripture.
Near the end of her remarks, the former secretary of state and first lady turned biblical again — although I don't know that any of the major media caught it:
Again, her audience undoubtedly recognized the reference, even if reporters did not.
Galatians 6:9, an oft-quoted verse, speaks of not becoming weary while doing good, "for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not" (KJV) or "for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up" (New International Version).