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Clinton talks faith, policy issues at National Baptist Convention, USA

Religion News Service | 9/16/2016, 12:35 a.m.
Talking about one’s faith doesn’t come naturally to a “Midwestern Methodist,” Hillary Clinton admitted.

Religion News Service

Talking about one’s faith doesn’t come naturally to a “Midwestern Methodist,” Hillary Clinton admitted.

Then the Democratic presidential nominee spent a half-hour doing just that, quoting Scripture, hymns and even St. Francis of Assisi as she described her “activist, social justice faith — a roll-up-your-sleeves-and-get-your-hands-dirty faith.”

“I am grateful for the gift of personal salvation and for the great obligation of the social gospel to use the gift of grace wisely, to reflect the love of God and to follow the example of Jesus Christ to the greater good of God’s beloved community,” she said. “That’s what led me to devote my life in the ways I could to serving others.”

Mrs. Clinton’s remarks came Sept. 8 at the National Baptist Convention, USA’s 136th annual session at the Kansas City Convention Center. They follow Republican Donald Trump’s address on Sept. 3 to the predominantly African-American congregation at Great Faith Ministries International church in Detroit.

The National Baptist Convention, USA is one of the nation’s oldest and largest African-American religious organizations.

In her speech, Mrs. Clinton remembered her father kneeling beside his bed to pray and her mother teaching Sunday school. She remembered traveling from Chicago’s suburbs into the city with her church youth minister to attend an African-American church for the first time and to hear a speech by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and shake his hand.

She recounted the “hard lesson” she has taught as the occasional Sunday school teacher: “We’re not asked to love each other, not urged or requested. We’re commanded to love. Indeed, Jesus made it his greatest commandment.”

She repeated the Methodist credo that has peppered her speeches throughout her campaign: “Do all the good you can for all the people you can in all the ways you can as long as ever you can.”

And she drew applause and shouts, quoting words and Scriptures that have informed her belief: As attributed to St. Francis, “Try to preach the gospel always, and, if necessary, use words,” and from the Bible, “Faith without works is dead” and “We cannot just be hearers of the word, we must be doers.”

“For me, it has always been about trying to live up to the responsibility described by the prophet Micah — that we do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with our God,” she said.

But her speech wasn’t just about faith.

Mrs. Clinton also praised the gun buyback program at Tabernacle Community Baptist Church in Milwaukee while pledging to support “common sense gun safety reforms.”

She remembered celebrating the 60th anniversary of Rosa Parks’ resistance to segregation at Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church in Montgomery, Ala., saying, “Rosa Parks may have opened up every seat on the bus. Now it’s our job to create good jobs so everyone can afford the fare.”

She pledged to reform the criminal justice system, address systemic racism, raise the national minimum wage, guarantee equal pay for women, support small businesses and bring back high school vocational programs. She called threats to limit voting rights a “blast from the Jim Crow past.”