"Secretary Clinton, I want to explore how far you believe the right to abortion goes," asked Fox News Channel's Chris Wallace, moderator for the third and final presidential debate. "You have been quoted as saying that the fetus has no constitutional rights. You also voted against a ban on late-term, partial-birth abortions. Why?"
Mrs. Clinton's answer was precisely what we've come to expect. She bristled, her voice turning sharp, her tone unyielding: "Because Roe v. Wade very clearly sets out that there can be regulations on abortion so long as the life and the health of the mother are taken into account." It was her canned answer, one I've heard countless times in my years writing about her.
Donald Trump's retort was a good one, one of his best: "Well, I think it's terrible. If you go with what Hillary is saying, in the ninth month, you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb of the mother just prior to the birth of the baby. Now, you can say that that's OK and Hillary can say that that's OK, but it's not OK with me."
With that, Hillary grew angry, denouncing Trump's "scare rhetoric." I wasn't surprised. If you want to get under Hillary's skin, challenge her on abortion, what she considers a sacred "right," the hill of Roe that Hillary would die on.
She continued with this telling line: "The government has no business in the decisions that women make with their families in accordance with their faith."
With that word, "faith," I envisioned my email box filling up. That's because I have the unenviable position of being a go-to guy on questions involving the faith of Hillary Clinton—fitting punishment for daring to write a book on the faith of Hillary Clinton a decade ago. Ever since, I've been peppered with questions from all sides of the political and spiritual spectrum. Among them, the one I get the most from conservatives goes something like this: How can you call Hillary Clinton a "sincere, lifelong Christian" (as I have) when she is so fanatical on abortion?
The question frequently moves beyond abortion to more general statements about Hillary Clinton's honesty and character.
As one conservative colleague put it in an email to me this week, if Hillary is such a committed Christian, where is her faith in action—especially in regard to character and this abortion thing?
It's a valid objection from conservative Christians. It's not, however, an objection that I hear from liberal Christians. And indeed, that dichotomy gets to the crux of the matter, and it's one that conservative Christians always struggle to grasp.
Here's the reality: The fact is that Hillary Clinton, since childhood, has been a committed Methodist, which is a liberal denomination, the tenets of which she interprets very selectively—much like how Nancy Pelosi or Tim Kaine selectively interpret Catholicism. Much like how a Barack Obama selectively invokes the "Golden Rule" as (amazingly) a rationale to redefine marriage, obviously and unequivocally violating the multi-millennial natural-traditional-biblical standard of marriage as being between a man and a woman. Look at Jimmy Carter, the "born-again" president, invoking his garbled understanding of the Scriptures in his support of redefining marriage. Look at Jim Wallis and the old Sojourners gang and their myriad of radically left-wing positions.
Ask any of these liberal Christians if they believe they are acting unbiblically, or in an un-Christian or ungodly way. They will vehemently protest. They are convinced—or have convinced themselves—that they are doing the right thing. They are Religious Left Christians. And, yes, certain positions they take, especially to conservative Christians, can be downright maddening.
That brings me back to Hillary Clinton. She is a classic Religious Left Christian. In her mind, her position on abortion, even partial-birth position, is a moral one. I have no doubt that Hillary feels that someday she'll be able to stand before her Savior and make the case that she did what she thought was right because she was seeking to save women's lives via legal abortion—yep, irrespective of the 60 million unborn victims of Roe v. Wade.
And Hillary is far from alone in that belief among the Religious Left. Do a Google search on the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. It's an entire organization of left-wing believers who seem to think that the Creator would approve of Roe v. Wade. Among the members are the Episcopal Church, Obama's United Church of Christ, Presbyterian Church USA, and other mainline groups. Most significant to the Hillary discussion, Hillary's United Methodist Church was a pivotal, founding member (it finally withdrew only last April). The UMC's liberalism on abortion is a key reason that Hillary glows about being "so comfortable" as a member.
So think about it, conservative Christians: How can you insist to Hillary that she's not being a Christian in supporting legal abortion when all of these mainline Christian groups, including her own, were supporting legal abortion?
Do I agree with these groups? No, I think they're off their rockers and will have much to answer for. But if you're looking to reconcile Hillary's thinking, well, you're not thinking about it enough. Peer beyond your conservative Christian choir and gaze into the perverse ideological abyss of the Religious Left and you'll discern some answers, infuriating as they are.
Thus, returning to Hillary's answer on partial-birth abortion in the third and final presidential debate: "The government has no business in the decisions that women make with their families in accordance with their faith."
Conservative Christians who believe that statement is inherently contradictory need to realize that, to Hillary Clinton, it is not. She believes she can justify her abortion position in accordance with her faith.
To borrow from Donald Trump, Hillary can say that that's OK, but it's not OK with me. Nonetheless, to Hillary, it's OK.
Dr. Paul Kengor is professor of political science and executive director of The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College.
This article was originally published by The Washington Times and at visionandvalues.org. Used with permission.
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