Here’s a very interesting article on Hillary Rodham Clinton’s recent religious gestures. The argument in a nutshell?
Here’s a little-understood truism about Senator Clinton: She feels right at home with the churchgoing crowd. A lifelong and devout Methodist, she spent her teen years active in the church’s youth movement. In 1993, as the newly crowned first lady, she became the symbol of an emerging religious liberalism when she gave a speech in Austin, Texas, that called for "a new politics of meaning."
"She used those words," recalls Rabbi Michael Lerner, the editor of the progressive Jewish magazine Tikkun. Lerner used to meet with Hillary at the Clinton White House until, in his words, "the liberal media and the religious right demolished her for it."
Now the senator is reclaiming her moral roots. She hasn’t found religion in order to make a presidential run—it’s more like she’s finally coming clean. Says Lerner, "There’s a new openness among Democrats to speak religion, and Hillary has gone back to being who she really is."
Clinton’s aides put it another way. "The times may have changed, but Hillary Clinton’s views have not," says Philippe Reines, her spokesperson. Everything she’s voiced recently, he points out, she’s voiced before.
I find the portrait of her religiosity entirely plausible: she could well be a (very) liberal mainline Protestant. Whether being true to herself will get her any national political traction is another issue altogether. She would have to move decisively to the right on abortion and gay marriage, which I don’t think principal constituencies in the Democratic Party will permit her to do, unless she signalled to them that she didn’t really mean it. So let’s watch for the winks.