Sen. Clinton urges use of faith-based initiatives
By Michael Jonas, Globe Correspondent | January 20, 2005
On the eve of the presidential inauguration, US Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton last night embraced an issue some pundits say helped seal a second term for George W. Bush: acceptance of the role of faith in addressing social ills.
In a speech at a fund-raising dinner for a Boston-based organization that promotes faith-based solutions to social problems, Clinton said there has been a "false division" between faith-based approaches to social problems and respect for the separation of church of state.
"There is no contradiction between support for faith-based initiatives and upholding our constitutional principles," said Clinton, a New York Democrat who often is mentioned as a possible presidential candidate in 2008.
Addressing a crowd of more than 500, including many religious leaders, at Boston's Fairmont Copley Plaza, Clinton invoked God more than half a dozen times, at one point declaring, "I've always been a praying person."
She said there must be room for religious people to "live out their faith in the public square."
The issue of faith in politics has been at the center of debate following the presidential election, with some arguing that Bush's strong identification with religious values was a key to his victory over Senator John F. Kerry.
The dinner was a fund-raiser for the National TenPoint Leadership Foundation and the Dorchester-based Ella J. Baker House. Both youth outreach programs are directed by the Rev. Eugene F. Rivers 3d, a leader of the clergy-based efforts to stem youth violence in Boston in the 1990s that has become a national model for community-police partnerships.
The minister has often criticized established black leaders and liberal politicians, saying they have failed to deal honestly with the problems of youth violence.
Rivers said he hoped Clinton's appearance last night would build broader support for an issue on which some Democrats have been skittish.
"She is in a position to articulate a progressive vision around this issue of faith and values," Rivers said.
"The Clintons, on faith-based solutions, have always been way ahead of the curve," said Rivers, citing President Clinton's support of a 1996 law banning the federal government from discriminating against religious organizations seeking funding available to groups delivering social services.
In her speech, Clinton praised the efforts of Rivers and others working to curb youth violence, saying those of faith are often most willing to walk the streets of the country's most dangerous neighborhoods to try to reach young people. Where others "see trouble," she said, Rivers and faith-based soldiers "see God's work right in front of them."
Although the senator has insisted that she is focused only on her work in the Senate and constituents in New York (she faces reelection in 2006), talk of another Clinton seeking the White House seems to be a topic of speculation wherever she goes.
Mayor Thomas M. Menino got the ball rolling with his introduction of Clinton last night, calling her "the first first lady to be a US senator and maybe the first woman to be something else."
"I don't know who the right person will be in 2008, but Hillary is certainly one of the most compelling political figures on the horizon," said Alan Solomont, the former finance chairman of the Democratic National Committee, who attended last night's event. '
Clinton wasn't the only would-be candidate generating buzz at the dinner. Seated prominently at the head table was Deval Patrick, a former assistant attorney general in the Clinton administration who said last week that he is considering a run for Massachusetts governor in 2006.
"I'm interested and I'm exploring," said Patrick last night. "I'm trying to cast a wide net and talk to a lot of people."
The 48-year-old black attorney from Milton said he will decide in the next several months whether to seek the Democratic nomination for the state's highest office. Patrick, who was in charge of the Justice Department's civil rights division from 1994 to 1997, left his position last month as chief legal counsel to Coca-Cola Co., where he worked for nearly four years.The event was billed as the Ella J. Baker Awards Dinner, and four leaders were honored for supporting the youth outreach efforts of the Baker House.
Receiving awards were Boston Police Commissioner Kathleen M. O'Toole; Sylvia R. Johnson, associate director of the Hyams Foundation; former US attorney Donald K. Stern; and Roxbury District Court Judge Edward R. Redd.
Michael Jonas can be reached at email@example.com
Jan 20, '05
Wow, she is pulling out the "faith" card early!
I guess it's better to start now than two months before she runs for the Democratic candidate position in 08.
Last edit by dphrn on Jan 20, '05
Jan 20, '05
Quote from dphrn
Yep, you can "label" me cynical all you want when it comes to HRC. I won't attempt to rationalize it. I will own it...proudly!
I am not "labeling" you....but the words, they are cynical. Funny how we believe GWB's "faith" based leadership.....
Anyhow, I don't find the article useful, myself. Politicians inspire cynicism in me on both sides.
Oh, and Have a good day and let's quit w/the back and forth, ok? I am game.
Last edit by SmilingBluEyes on Jan 20, '05