Hillary Clinton wants to preach. That’s what she told Bill Shillady, her longtime pastor, at a recent photo shoot for his new book about the daily devotionals he sent her during the 2016 campaign. Scattered bits of reporting suggest that ministry has always been a secret dream of the two-time presidential candidate: Last fall, the former Newsweek editor Kenneth Woodward revealed that Clinton told him in 1994 that she thought “all the time” about becoming an ordained Methodist minister. She asked him not to write about it, though: “It will make me seem much too pious.” The incident perfectly captures Clinton’s long campaign to modulate—and sometimes obscure—expressions of her faith.
Now, as Clinton works to rehabilitate her public image and figure out the next steps after her brutal November loss, religion is taking a central role. After long months of struggling to persuade Americans that she is trustworthy, authentic, and fundamentally moral, Clinton is lifting up an intimate, closely guarded part of herself. There are no more voters left to lose. In sharing her faith, perhaps Clinton sees something left to win, whether political or personal.
Two books are slated to come out of Clinton world early this fall: What Happened, Clinton’s personal account of the election, and Strong for a Moment Like This, Shillady’s book of devotionals. Shillady, who runs the United Methodist City Society in New York, wrote the book at Clinton’s suggestion; he said his is the only book for which Clinton has agreed to write a foreword. Clinton and her staffers read and approved the copy ahead of time.