Religion has always been important to Hillary Clinton, but in the months since her election loss, she reportedly has been more open about just how significant a role it plays in her life. In fact, according to an Atlantic report, Clinton told her pastor that she's interested in preaching.
Although the news of Clinton's curiosity in becoming a preacher only broke recently, it is certainly not the first time she has expressed an interest in making religion a more central part of her life and career. Last fall, former Newsweek editor Kenneth Woodward revealed in his book Getting Religion that Clinton told him back in 1994 she thought "all the time" about becoming an ordained Methodist minister.
But she was careful not to talk about religion too much. As first lady, Clinton was mocked for her moralism. Conservatives doubted her sincerity as a Christian — and many still do, though they rarely seem to question Donald Trump's faith. It is therefore unsurprising that Clinton told Woodward back in 1994 to avoid discussing her ministry ambitions, because it would make her seem "too pious." On the campaign trail in 2015 and 2016, Clinton occasionally discussed religion and spirituality, but primarily only when asked to do so, or when speaking at a church.
Unfortunately for her, this strategy meant that working class Protestant and Catholic voters in the states she ultimately lost — like Pennsylvania and Michigan — either did not know she was religious or doubted that she was sincere because she was not vocal about her beliefs. She even explicitly said that white Catholics were not the audience she was trying to reach.
Clinton's longtime pastor, Bill Shillady, wrote a book about Clinton turning to religion on the campaign trail, titled Strong for a Moment Like This. The idea for the book — which Clinton reportedly encouraged Shillady to write and which is slated for release next week — came from the devotionals Shillady sent Clinton while she was on the campaign trail.
The book indicates that Clinton grew up in a religious community in a conservative Chicago suburb and carried religion with her throughout her career. She eventually came to ponder Biblical themes while on the campaign trail. Shillady also defended Clinton's treatment of her faith in the months preceding the election, saying that voters ignored Clinton's religious identity.
“It’s been there all along,” he told the Atlantic of Clinton's faith. “The general public didn’t necessarily want to accept the fact that she’s a Christian because there’s so many critics out there about the Clintons."
Shillady also noted that Clinton's faith had only grown stronger since her election loss, which seems to indicate that after decades in politics, Clinton's renewed focus on faith is the return to normalcy that she needs.
"I haven’t noticed anything different, except that I think she is more relaxed than I’ve ever seen her," Shillady said. "Given her depth of knowledge of the Bible and her experience of caring for people and loving people, she’d make a great pastor."