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So it came as a bit of a surprise when the famously on-message Clinton, whose demeanor and accent critics often dismiss as duplicitous and disingenuous, launched into a lengthy, nuanced, and uncharacteristically unscripted articulation of her faith. Rooted in a firm theological embrace of “social justice,” this strain of religious thought contrasts sharply with Clinton’s Republican opponent.

With preacher’s son Ted Cruz and the often pastoral John Kasich dropping out of the race for the White House this week, the GOP flock has winnowed to Donald Trump, a man whose grasp of the spiritual is dubious at best.

During a town hall campaign event in Iowa this past January, a woman stood and asked Hillary Clinton an unusually blunt question about 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.

The woman, a high school guidance counselor, said she identifies as both a Democrat and a Catholic Christian, but expressed frustration about having to defend her support for Clinton to conservative friends who insist that progressivism and Christianity are incompatible. 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 …

According to Kathryn Joyce and Jeff Sharlet, she joined an all-female Bible study group in Washington affiliated with the Fellowship (aka, “the Family”), filled with the wives of influential men.

Under Jones, Clinton was reportedly exposed to theologians such as Reinhold Niebuhr and Paul Tillich, Christian thought leaders who, while not especially radical (Niebuhr is the favorite theologian of both John Mc Cain and Barack Obama), stressed the need for humanity to care for the less fortunate.

Clinton’s Methodism remained a powerful part of her identity throughout her adult life, but grew into a public force in the 1990s during her tenure as First Lady of the United States.

After moving into the White House with her husband Bill — a Baptist — in 1993, the two regularly attended services with their daughter Chelsea at Foundry Methodist Church, a historic congregation near Dupont Circle in Washington, D. Pastors and lay leaders enthusiastically welcomed the couple, which Clinton still visits on occasion — sometimes to sit in the pews, sometimes to preach from the pulpit.

But she has acknowledged profound influence on her life, noting that scripture passages sent to her from members guided her throughout her tenure as First Lady.

Neither her denomination nor her conservative friends kept Clinton from taking some progressive positions, of course.