Virtual Voices

Devout Methodist, wanna-be priest

Campaign 2008

Hillary Clinton's favorite Scripture: "Faith without works is dead." Rudy Giulianis' creed: faith in God, the American spirit, work, and himself.

A Pew Forum poll finds that voters view Clinton and Giuliani as the least religious presidential candidates. The Christian Science Monitor gives a glimpse into Clinton and Giuliani's religious beliefs.

Clinton, a Methodist, said her church's Social Principles are a "prod" to her future actions: "We can find direction, if we look to the church's call to strengthen families and renew our schools and encourage policies that enable each child to have a chance to fulfill his or her God-given potential." Clinton was active in Washington prayer groups both as First Lady and as a senator. She said a Paul Tillich sermon on sin and grace helped her through the Lewinsky scandal.

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Clinton has called it "a mistake for the Democrats not to engage evangelical Christians on their own turf," and she hired an evangelical Christian to direct outreach to religious voters. Some, like columnist Cal Thomas, are cynical about Clinton's motives: "This is a politician speaking, not a person who believes in the central tenets of Christianity." Others, like Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention, say Clinton's dedication to a social gospel seems "authentic."

Giuliani, a Catholic, attended parochial schools and twice considered the priesthood. He says he has "very, very strong views on religion" but emphasizes that his religious beliefs are private: "I think in a democracy and in a government like ours, my religion is my way of looking at God, and other people have other ways of doing it, and some people don't believe in God. I think that's unfortunate. I think their life would be a lot fuller if they did, but they have that right."

He has used the Gospel story of the adulterous woman to rebuke those who criticize his personal life. He has said that "most Americans" believe human rights come from God, "and they're not just ours. They've been put there for everyone." He believes God guided him to write a book on leadership that prepared him for 9/11.

The candidates clashed on religion during their 2000 Senate race. Ironically, Giuliani (the one who keeps faith private) attacked Clinton for her "hostility toward America's religious traditions." Clinton (the one whose faith prods action) responded, "'I am outraged that he would inject religion into this campaign in any form whatsoever."

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