Rev. Bill Shillady

CNN on Clinton's pastor: It's Friday! But Sunday's coming! Or familiar words to that effect ...

CNN on Clinton's pastor: It's Friday! But Sunday's coming! Or familiar words to that effect ...

Once again, I feel the need to respond to some emails requesting my take on a sad, but rather interesting, feature story at CNN.

The headline is certainly a grabber, one that wouldn't be surprising at a "conservative" news outlet or two (or more). But it's news, sort of, when CNN is the prime MSM outlet that goes with this: "Hillary Clinton's pastor plagiarized portion of new book."

This is actually a strong feature story, even though -- as readers stressed -- it includes a sort of "this wasn't really all that big a deal" coda. What is looming in the background is a rarely discussed trend, which is that lots of preachers (past and present) have a tendency to quote all kinds of people without getting into the details about sources. Hold that thought, because we'll come back to it.

So back to that CNN report. Here is the overture:

(CNN) Hillary Clinton's longtime pastor plagiarized the writings of another minister in a new book scheduled to be released on Tuesday.
"Strong for a Moment Like This: The Daily Devotions of Hillary Rodham Clinton," is based on emails that the Rev. Bill Shillady, a United Methodist minister, wrote to Clinton from April 2015 through December of last year. Shillady described his emails as a way to minister to a candidate in perpetual motion.
The pastor and politician formed a spiritual bond after meeting in New York in 2002. Shillady co-officiated at Chelsea Clinton's wedding in 2010, presided over Clinton's mother's memorial service and blessed her grandchildren. Clinton is a lifelong Methodist.
Clinton appears on the cover of "Strong for a Moment Like This," and wrote a foreword for the book praising Shillady and his writings. She is scheduled to appear at an event next month in New York promoting the book. A spokesman for Clinton did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

The key, however, is that Shillady failed to credit the source for some material that ended up in what CNN called an "especially emotional devotion." The source was a March 2016 blog post by the Rev. Matthew Deuel of Mission Point Community Church in Indiana.

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Hillary's devotionals get into print, but The Daily Mail bails on offering insightful coverage

Hillary's devotionals get into print, but The Daily Mail bails on offering insightful coverage

Some people, after they leave public office, inspire the building of a library. Others go on speaking tours or found charities or serve as statesmen in solving the world’s great problems. And some write devotionals.

We first heard of the latest round of presidential devotional materials when Joshua DuBois penned samples of the morning mix of Scripture, prayers and reflective thoughts he offered President Barack Obama over the years. Jimmy Carter likewise produced one.

So in the spirit of Democrats doing collections of devotionals, we have word of yet another from someone who was almost president: Hillary Clinton, courtesy of a report in The Daily Mail

The article’s lead-in paragraph is particularly clever. Modeled after a popular Judy Blume book it begins:

Are you there God? It's me, Hillary. Clinton is praying EVERY DAY after her defeat by Trump reveals pastor who sends her special prayers about 'being strong' 

We've written before about this pastor here. We then learn:

Hillary Clinton has been reading daily devotionals since losing the election which teach her about 'being strong in the midst of unpredictability', her pastor has revealed.
The Rev Bill Shillady said that the former Democratic Presidential candidate's prayers have been about 'encouragement' as she grapples with her shock defeat to Donald Trump.

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'Kum Ba Yah': AP serves up a vanilla puff piece on Hillary Clinton's 'private' faith

'Kum Ba Yah': AP serves up a vanilla puff piece on Hillary Clinton's 'private' faith

We've seen some rather shallow coverage of Hillary's Clinton faith this election cycle.

Here, here and here, for example.

Over the weekend, The Associated Press served up another such piece with this cheesy headline:

For Clinton, a daily dose of faith along with politic

AP's lede takes us straight into Clinton's private inbox (no, not that one):

At about 5 a.m. each day — maybe a little later on weekends — an email from the Rev. Bill Shillady arrives in Hillary Clinton's inbox.
The contents? A reading from Scripture. A devotional commentary. And a prayer. They're sometimes inspired by the headlines — focusing recently, for example, on the role of women in the Bible.
"I know she reads them, because she responds to me," says Shillady, executive director of the United Methodist City Society in New York. "We've had some interesting emails back and forth about some of the concepts."
It's no secret that Clinton is a lifelong Methodist. But Shillady — who officiated at Chelsea Clinton's wedding, led a memorial service for Clinton's mother, Dorothy Rodham, and gave the closing benediction at the Democratic National Convention — feels that many people don't really know how much her faith "is a daily thing."

Keep reading, and AP explains — with seemingly no need for actual sources — why Clinton keeps her faith so "private":

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