Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton offered a rare lens into her faith Saturday, speaking about Christianity’s impact on her life, particularly the importance of social justice.
Delivering the keynote address at the United Methodist Women’s Assembly, Clinton praised women in the denomination for their tradition of “taking the social gospel into the world.”
Clinton said her grandmother, Hannah, sang hymns to her as a child and taught her to “never be afraid to get your hands dirty,” and that her father would kneel nightly by his bedside in prayer.
She added that her mother was also a devout Christian who taught Sunday school and ”was committed to social justice issues,” according to the United Methodist News Service.
But Clinton said it was her youth pastor, Don Jones, from First United Methodist Church in Park Ridge, Illinois, who first taught her to “embrace faith in action.”
Clinton spoke specifically about the importance of human beings caring for one another, citing the Bible’s central characters to illustrate her words.
“Like the disciples of Jesus, we cannot look away, we cannot let those in need fend for themselves and live with ourselves,” she said, according to CNN. “We are all in this together.”
Clinton also spoke about the biblical story in which Jesus fed thousands with just five loaves of bread and two fish.
“The disciples come to Jesus and suggest they send away the people to find food to fend for themselves. But Jesus said, ‘No. You feed them,’” Clinton said. “He was teaching a lesson about the responsibility we all share.”
She added, “The miracle of loaves and fish was the first great potluck supper. It is what women do every day: we feed the multitudes.”
While the speech was largely apolitical, the Associated Press reported that Clinton did address two specific issues — increasing the minimum wage and equal pay for men and women — making the case for both on moral grounds.
The speech was a rare departure for Clinton, who rarely speaks about her faith in public, as CNN noted. She spoke for 45 minutes to the more than 6,500 in attendance, reportedly waiving her honorarium and paying her own way to the event.