Will Hillary Become Reverend Hillary?

 

              

        

 

                      by Kenneth Bagnell

    

    It’s hard to believe that the current President of the US is as ignorant and lying as he really is. Consider: when the first news came that Hillary Clinton might take up the Christian Ministry, he told a group of evangelicals not to worry because she has nothing to back it up. That’s an outrageous and ignorant lie. She and her family were not only practicing Christian parents but activists in their Presbyterian congregation. In brief: she grew up from infancy with regular attendance at a Chicago United Methodist Church, she was confirmed early in life, her mother taught Sunday School, Hillary was active in (a) youth groups, (b) Bible studies and (c) the altar guild. Add to this the fact that on many Saturday’s she and her fellow young people, would babysit the children of migrant workers. To me, Trump’s ignorance and malice know no equal.

       It may be a shock to you, but the American culture is distinct in many ways, one being on religion. It has its secular challenges but is far from indifference, as in much of Canada and virtually all of Europe. Not always. Twenty years ago, you had to arrive early at London’s City Temple to find a seat to hear the world famous preacher, Leslie Weatherhead.  Now, with Weatherhead long deceased, the Temple is mostly empty, and a recent book by a historian of religion, Callumn Brown is aptly called, The Death of Christian Britain. Of course I deeply regret it, but we at least can be honest and recognize, that aside from conservative evangelicals, the secular decline is radically deepening here in Canada.

       The U.S.A. is different, in fact it’s much distinct from the waning church culture of Europe and the declining church attendance in Canada.  A modest measure of American churches, struggle and have to close, but many are holding their own, some flourishing. The American inclination is a major part of the reason that Hillary Clinton, so well known and respected, may truly seek to become a minister of her own choice: Methodism. The media has been overflowing with announcements that say more or less: “Hillary Clinton is Considering Becoming a Pastor. Seriously.” And make that Methodist, the equivalent of Canada’s United Church, for after all, Hillary is clearly left of centre as is the U.C.C, and most other liberal leaning Protestant denominations.   

      Hence, what does the Christian culture – and other American faith groups — gain if she becomes an ordained minister? Probably a lot – given her strong personal character. In general, I’d base her strength on her past life in faithful Christian life, her seasoning in her political demands, a conviction she is said to have acquired in  her effort to define her life style: “Always preach the gospel…… but never mind using the words.” There’s a reason for that. I sense that, whoever advised this, feels that Christian faith is best reflected in private life, without using banner-size words, as do many evangelicals, who take a grip on your shoulder and ask “Are you saved?” I’m sure you get the point. Moreover, Clinton I sense, is not a showy person, but she’s a very bright person.

    Nonetheless she has told a friend, a minister named Rev. William Shillady — a longtime Presbyterian minister and close family friend–that she thought she’d like to become a minister herself, one who could preach well.  In turn he became her guide and supporter, so that during the Presidential election, he put together a great deal of creative work to support her: one was his writing of a devotional book during her campaign. The latest media report says that it’s to be called: “The Daily Devotions of Hillary Rodham Clinton.” Every day during the campaign he’d rise from his bed at 4 AM, to write a devotional paragraph. (He kept it up for a long time, so that finally, they totalled 635. Now a book is to be published with many of them.)  In doing so Shillady  sought help from other ministers, including, it’s said, over 100 ordained women, many forming a group they called, “We Pray With Her.” (In fact, it is not well known, but one of the messages he had sent her during the campaign was from the book of Galatians and Hillary Clinton included it in her concession address: “Let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season, we shall reap if we do not lose heart.”

      Looking back on the dreadful outcome of that American election, it’s, to me at least, very difficult to counter the massive support given Trump by the often illiterate evangelical — fundamentalist Christians.  For shame. As for Trump’s executive skills, not a day goes by but the news reports that one or more senior Washington advisors has either quit or been fired. It’s most difficult to sense in Donald Trump, even a hint of the values held by Hillary Clinton. I found a buried document in which Ms. Clinton looked back on her address to the General Conference of The United Methodist Church in 1996. In it she said the church was, next to her family, the most formative aspect in her entire life. Here’s what she spoke back then and, I’m sure, lives by still:   “The Church was a critical part of my growing up, and in preparing for this event, I almost could not even list the ways it influenced me and helped me develop as a person, not only on my own faith journey, but with a sense of obligations to others.” May she take the path to ordination. 

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1 Comment

  1. Rev. Don Gillies
    Sep 17, 2017

    I’m with you on this, though, given the complications on the road to professional ministry these days, she might want to think twice about it. Her “ministry” might be somewhat different, but still valid and helpful. Like you, I admire her, and find it hard to understand why so many Americans were turned off. Look what it got them!

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