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Point/Counterpoint: Why Christians should — or shouldn’t — vote for Hillary

(RNS) TONY CAMPOLO: Why Christians should vote for Hillary I like Hillary Clinton. We are personal friends. But that’s not the only reason why I am hoping she becomes our next president. My support for her candidacy is based on the fact that she is brilliantly qualified for the job. As the first lady of […]


TONY CAMPOLO: Why Christians should vote for Hillary

I like Hillary Clinton. We are personal friends. But that’s not the only reason why I am hoping she becomes our next president. My support for her candidacy is based on the fact that she is brilliantly qualified for the job.

As the first lady of Arkansas, she demonstrated her administrative abilities. She took on the task of improving the state’s school system, and even her political opponents had to admit that she made significant progress in lifting an educational system from the doldrums into respectability. Of course, the huge bureaucracies of the U.S. government are much more complicated than the school system of Arkansas, but this was good training for undertaking the huge task of being the chief operating officer for the mega-agencies in Washington.

Clinton also understands how Congress works — a needed skill since legislative gridlock has characterized Washington over the last several years. Amid dire problems, the last session of Congress proved to be one of the least productive of any in our nation’s history. It seemed like the White House and those in the Congress were not able to negotiate. But Clinton is a brilliant negotiator. When she was a senator, she demonstrated that she could work across party lines to forge progressive policies that made for a better America.

She was by no means perfect in making policy decisions. After all, she believed Dick Cheney when he told her that Saddam Hussein had developed weapons of mass destruction, and that led her to vote for the second Iraq war. She learned from that experience, and her future carefulness will keep her from making that kind of mistake again. She was, however, honest enough to admit that she regretted her vote, and honesty is something we need in Washington.

As secretary of state, Clinton demonstrated her ability to negotiate foreign policy. She joined the two female secretaries of state who held that position previously and — as those on both sides of the political aisle will admit — were outstanding voices representing America’s interests around the world.

Clinton modeled being a faithful wife and a loving, effective mother at a time when we needed such a model. Many people thought, in the midst of a crisis that would have destroyed most marriages, she showed that the promises she made to her husband on their wedding day were binding through better and worse, that she really meant it. We need a president who keeps her promises.

Some of my evangelical friends raise questions about her views on abortion. But Clinton is one of the few candidates on the political stage who has a plan for cutting the abortion rate in America by at least 50 percent. She points out that 72 percent of the women who have abortions do so for economic reasons, not because they want to terminate the life of the unborn. When single, economically strapped women, who are working a minimum wage job become pregnant, they have to ask themselves if they have the means to support themselves and assume the additional responsibility of supporting a newborn. Furthermore, such women know that if they take time off to give birth they could possibly lose their desperately needed jobs. There are few support systems like day care for such mothers that will enable them to earn what they need to cover the basic expenses required for raising children. Considering these and other factors, sadly, these women often think abortion is the only viable economic option.

She is committed to addressing each of these problems, and thus diminishing the urgency that drives so many oppressed women into having abortions. As a pro-life Democrat, I am encouraged by the possibility that Clinton could be our next president. Abortions will not be ended through legislation. We must find ways to keep women who want to give birth from being driven by economic forces into curtailing their pregnancies.

I know Clinton to be a committed Christian. As a teenager, her religious beliefs were heavily impacted by hearing a sermon by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. The youth pastor of her Methodist church mentored her through her teenage years into being the kind of holistic Christian who faithfully engages in the spiritual disciplines of Bible study and prayer. As a senator, Clinton was one of the most faithful attendees of the Senate’s weekly prayer meetings.

Given all that, I am more than willing to do all I can to help Clinton get elected. Should she ask me to organize an Evangelicals for Hillary committee, I would be more than willing to do so. I believe in her. And you should too.

(Tony Campolo is an evangelical pastor and professor who gained prominence in the 1990s as a spiritual adviser to President Bill Clinton. He  is author of numerous books including “Following Jesus Without Embarrassing God,” and “Red Letter Revolution” with Shane Claiborne.)

DAVID FRENCH: Why Christians should not vote for Hillary

It’s difficult to understand the logic of Hillary Clinton’s candidacy, a drive for the Oval Office sustained far more by dynastic advantage than any recognizable record of public accomplishment.

As first lady, she presided over the secretive, disastrous “Hillarycare” health care reform effort, an effort that not only failed in a Democratically controlled Congress, but also helped propel Republicans to their first House majority in decades.

As a senator — an office she won after parachuting into New York at the tail end of her popular husband’s second term — she was undistinguished at best, with no notable legislative accomplishments.

But it’s as secretary of state that she proved truly disastrous. The Russian “reset” is now a sad joke. Cold War-era tensions have flared again, Russian forces invaded Ukraine and threaten the Baltic states, and Russian jets are buzzing American air space and provoking our allies.

In the Middle East, Americans find themselves again fighting in Iraq after a botched and premature American withdrawal created an opening for the Islamic State group, the world’s largest and deadliest jihadist army. Both Syria and Iraq are torn apart by civil war, and jihadists control more Middle Eastern territory than at any time since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.

And dare I mention Libya, a country where large sections are now under jihadist control? After the United States launched an undeclared air war to drive Moammar Gadhafi from power and so mismanaged the transition of power that the American ambassador and three other brave Americans were not only killed, but jihadists drove Americans from our embassy and later filmed themselves swimming in the ambassador’s pool.

There was so much wrong with the Libya misadventure–from Clinton’s unseemly celebration (“We came. We saw. He died.”) of Gadhafi’s brutal death-by-torture, to her failure to properly secure American diplomatic compounds even as the emerging terrorist threat was so obvious that other diplomats were evacuating Benghazi.

In Egypt, the United States actually backed the Muslim Brotherhood — the same organization that helped launch al-Qaida and Hamas — even when it was deposed through arguably the largest political protests in human history.

And we cannot — must not — forget that these foreign policy misadventures have led to human suffering on a vast, tragic scale, including Christian persecution so severe that it has verged on genocide. After clinging to the Middle East for 2,000 years — a period of time that included waves of Muslim conquest — the Christian presence has never been more precarious.

Through it all, Clinton has conducted herself with the same evasiveness and lack of integrity that characterized her conduct as first lady. Unreported foreign donations to the Clinton Foundation echo the bad old days of foreign fundraising in the Clinton White House. Her decision to conduct official business exclusively from an unsecured private email server — then turn over public records only as she deemed fit while deleting the rest — reflects spectacular disregard not only for the rules that govern federal employment but also for the public’s right to transparency from government officials.

Her brazen disregard for the truth reached its sad low in the aftermath of the Benghazi attacks, when she continually and emphatically blamed a planned jihadist assault on a purely fictional spontaneous uprising due to a YouTube video.

Clinton was a dishonest first lady, a middling senator, and a failed secretary of state. That is hardly the resume of a commander-in-chief. Clinton’s record should dismay Americans of all faiths, or no faith at all.

For Christians, however, there is also the problem of her ideology. She supports abortion-on-demand, including even late-term, partial-birth abortions. She supported the Obama administration’s efforts to force Christian employers to provide employees with abortifacients. And now she’s opposing religious freedom laws remarkably similar to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act her own husband signed into law.

Of course, Clinton isn’t counting on conservative support, but even liberal Christians can do better. There are more competent, more honest politicians — including more competent, honest female politicians — available to carry the left’s banner. Clinton is the wrong choice for Christians of every ideological stripe.

(David French is an attorney, writer, Iraq War veteran, and a contributor to National Review. He is the co-author, most recently, of the #1 New York Times bestseller, “Rise of ISIS: A Threat We Can’t Ignore.“)