Hillary Clinton told Time magazine in 2014 that faith was the background music of her life, and that "it never fades away." Faith appears to still be playing for the U.S. commander-in-chief hopeful, as American voters this week had what was perceived as a rare opportunity to hear her detail her views on Christianity and the Bible. The description occurred during a small town hall meeting in Knoxville, Iowa, on Monday afternoon, when a high school guidance counselor asked the Democratic presidential candidate how her beliefs align with the Ten Commandments.
Clinton's explanation of her religious views happened during the question-and-answer portion of the town hall.
Jessica Manning, 36, the counselor from Pella, Iowa, first told Clinton she personally felt conflicted because she was as a Catholic and a Democrat reports The New York Times. Manning explained that when she called a Catholic radio show to discuss which candidate to support in the presidential race, the host advised her to back a candidate based on faith, rather than blindly support any one political party.
"I would say I am a Democrat because of my Christian values, but many of my friends would say they are Republicans because of their Christian values," Manning said.
"So in these next few months, as I am supporting you and defending you to my Republican friends, I am just curious, how you would say your beliefs align with the Ten Commandments and is that something that's important to you?"
Some Christians would question Clinton's level of Christianity, due to her support of pro-choice for women and LGBTQ matters. But the former Secretary of State, U.S. Senator and First Lady is, and has always been, a Methodist. She told the rural Iowa crowd her belief in God has helped guide her politics and criticized those who use Christianity to "condemn so quickly" and "judge so harshly."
"I am a person of faith. I am a Christian. I am Methodist," Clinton said at a local school gymnasium in Knoxville. "My study of the Bible and my many conversations with people of faith has led me to believe that the most important commandment is to love the lord with all your might, and to love your neighbor as yourself. That is what I think we are commanded by Christ to do."
Following is Clinton's complete response to Manning's question on Monday:
"Thank you for asking that. I am a person of faith. I am a Christian. I am a Methodist. I have been raised Methodist. I feel very grateful for the instructions and support I received starting in my family but through my church, and I think that any of us who are Christian have a constantly, constant, conversation in our own heads about what we are called to do and how we are asked to do it, and I think it is absolutely appropriate for people to have very strong convictions and also, though, to discuss those with other people of faith. Because different experiences can lead to different conclusions about what is consonant with our faith and how best to exercise it.
The idea you heard on the radio of looking at individuals, I think, is absolutely fair. My study of the Bible, my many conversations with people of faith, has led me to believe the most important commandment is to love the Lord with all your might and to love your neighbor as yourself, and that is what I think we are commanded by Christ to do, and there is so much more in the Bible about taking care of the poor, visiting the prisoners, taking in the stranger, creating opportunities for others to be lifted up, to find faith themselves that I think there are many different ways of exercising your faith. But I do believe that in many areas judgment should be left to God, that being more open, tolerant and respectful is part of what makes me humble about my faith, and I am in awe of people who truly turn the other cheek all the time, who can go that extra mile that we are called to go, who keep finding ways to forgive and move on. Those are really hard things for human beings to do, and there is a lot, certainly in the New Testament, that calls us to do that.
The famous discussion on the Sermon on the Mount should be something that you really pay attention to. There's a lot of great Bible studies: What does the Sermon on the Mount really mean? What is it calling us to do and to understand? Because it sure does seem to favor the poor and the merciful and those who in worldly terms don't have a lot but who have the spirit that God recognizes as being at the core of love and salvation.
So there is much to be learned and I have been very disappointed and sorry that Christianity, which has such great love at its core, is sometimes used to condemn so quickly and judge so harshly. When I think part of the message that I certainly have tried to understand and live with is to look at yourself first, to make sure you are being the kind of person you should be in how you are treating others, and I am by no means a perfect person, I will certainly confess that to one and all, but I feel the continuing urge to try to do better, to try to be kinder, to try to be more loving, even with people who are quite harsh.
So, I think you have to keep asking yourself, if you are a person of faith, what is expected of me and am I actually acting the way that I should? And that starts in small ways and goes out in very large ones, but it's something that I take very seriously. So thank you for asking."