By M. A. Thiessen
In a speech not long before she launched her 2016 presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton made a stunning declaration of war on religious Americans. Speaking to the 2015 Women in the World Summit, Clinton declared that “deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed.”
Religious beliefs have to be changed? This is perhaps the most radical statement against religious liberty ever uttered by someone seeking the presidency. It is also deeply revealing. Clinton believes that, as president, it is her job not to respect the views of religious conservatives but to force them to change their beliefs and bend to her radical agenda favoring taxpayer-funded abortion on demand.
This is the context in which we must read a recently released trove of emails – which, according to WikiLeaks, come from the accounts of Clinton staff – showing the rampant anti-Catholic bigotry that permeates Clinton World.
In a 2012 email that WikiLeaks says was sent to John Podesta, now chairman of the Clinton campaign, Voices for Progress president Sandy Newman writes that “there needs to be a Catholic Spring, in which Catholics themselves demand the end of a middle ages dictatorship and the beginning of a little democracy and respect for gender equality in the Catholic church” and proposed that the Clinton team “plant the seeds of the revolution” to change Catholic teaching. Podesta replies, “We created Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good to organize for a moment like this . . . Likewise Catholics United.” He adds, “I’ll discuss with Tara. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend is the other person to consult.”
So members of the Clinton’s inner circle created front groups to foment a “Catholic Spring” – because, as their dear leader had announced, “deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed.”
That’s not all. In another email exchange with the subject line “Conservative Catholicism,” Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri and Podesta co-author John Halpin appear to mock Catholics and evangelical Christians for their “backwards” views. Halpin ridicules Fox News chairman Rupert Murdoch for raising his kids Catholic, declaring “Friggin’ Murdoch baptized his kids in Jordan where John the Baptist baptized Jesus. Many of the most powerful elements of the conservative movement are all Catholic (many converts) from the SC and think tanks to the media and social groups. It’s an amazing bastardization of the faith. They must be attracted to the systematic thought and severely backwards gender relations and must be totally unaware of Christian democracy.”
Palmieri responds that Catholicism “is the most socially acceptable politically conservative religion. Their rich friends wouldn’t understand if they became evangelicals.” “Excellent point,” Halpin responds, adding that “they can throw around ‘Thomistic’ thought and ‘subsidiarity’ and sound sophisticated because no one knows what the hell they’re talking about.” Podesta is included on both emails.
The hostility to people of faith here is simply breathtaking. Apparently when Clinton aides speak in private, their basket of “deplorables” includes faithful Catholics and evangelicals who believe in the sanctity of human life. If they had made such comments about any other group, they would be politically excommunicated.
Yet the mainstream media has, for the most part, ignored these revelations of anti-religious bias. After Donald Trump’s disgusting comments about women were leaked, his vice-presidential running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, was besieged with questions of whether he would leave the ticket. Has anyone asked Clinton’s running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va.,who professes to be a faithful Catholic, whether he will quit the ticket over this? Does he agree that Catholics are “backwards,” that the Catholic Church is a “middle ages dictatorship” and that it is the job of politicians to foment a “Catholic Spring”? Does he agree that Democrats should be creating front groups to launch a “revolution” against the bishops? Does he share Clinton’s belief that the “religious views” of American Catholics “have to be changed”? He should be forced to answer.
Imagine what might happen if people with these kinds of bigoted views gain the levers of power. Trump’s behavior toward women is appalling, but the republic has survived with sexual miscreants in the Oval Office (see Clinton, William Jefferson and Kennedy, John Fitzgerald). If Clinton is elected, she could be the most consequential president in history in terms of reshaping the nation’s highest court. She will immediately get to pick a Supreme Court justice to replace the late Antonin Scalia. And if other justices retire – such as Ruth Bader Ginsburg (83), Anthony Kennedy (80) and Stephen Breyer (78) – she could select as many as four new justices. Does anyone imagine that Clinton and her team will pick justices who respect religious liberty? Not a chance.
Speaking at the American Enterprise Institute’s annual dinner, Professor Robert George pointed out that while our Founding Fathers were a mixed lot when it came to religion, they all understood the importance of religious freedom. That is why, he said, “our Bill of Rights begins with the words ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.’ We get that principle . . . before we ever get to ‘or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people to assemble peaceably [and to] petition the government for redress of grievances.’ ” They knew that religious liberty was essential to “dignity of the person,” he added.
The Clinton campaign emails have thus put the stakes of this election in sharp relief not only for Americans of faith but also for all those who care about human dignity. Clinton’s presidency would be a threat to the religious freedom of all Americans. Let’s see if all those on the left who have complained about bigotry this election season call out Clinton and her team- or give her a pass.
Thiessen, a fellow with the American Enterprise Institute and former chief speechwriter to President George W. Bush, writes a weekly online column for The Washington Post.
Special To The Washington Post · Marc A. Thiessen