Do All the Good You Can: How Faith Shaped Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Politics (Hardcover)

Do All the Good You Can: How Faith Shaped Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Politics By Gary Scott Smith Cover Image

Do All the Good You Can: How Faith Shaped Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Politics (Hardcover)


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Methodism in the public and private lives of the politician

After more than forty contentious years in the public eye, Hillary Rodham Clinton is one of the best-known political figures in the nation. Yet the strong religious faith at the heart of her politics and personal life often remains confounding, if not mysterious, to longtime observers. Even many of her admirers would be surprised to hear Clinton state that her Methodist outlook has “been a huge part of who I am and how I have seen the world, and what I believe in, and what I have tried to do in my life.” 

Gary Scott Smith’s biography of Clinton’s journey in faith begins with her Methodist upbringing in Park Ridge, Illinois, where she faithfully attended worship services, Sunday school, and youth group meetings. Like many mainline Protestants, Clinton’s spiritual commitment developed gradually throughout childhood, while her combination of missionary zeal and impressive personal talents has informed her career from the time of her pro bono work at Yale on behalf of children to the present.

Her Methodist faith has been very important to many of Clinton’s high-profile endeavors and in helping her cope with the prominent travails brought on by two presidential campaigns, never-ending conservative rancor, and her husband’s infidelity. Smith’s account examines Clinton’s faith in the context of work ranging from her 1990s pursuit of healthcare reform to a “Hillary doctrine” of foreign policy focused on her longtime goal of providing basic human rights for children and women--a project she saw as essential to United States security. The result is an enlightening reconsideration of an extraordinary political figure who has defied private doubts and public controversy to live by John Wesley’s dictum: “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.”

Gary Scott Smith is a professor of history emeritus at Grove City College. His many books include Mark Twain: Prophet, Preacher, and Social Philosopher.
Product Details ISBN: 9780252045318
ISBN-10: 0252045319
Publisher: University of Illinois Press
Publication Date: October 10th, 2023
Pages: 320
Language: English
"This fine-grained study is a must for students of contemporary American religion and politics." --Publishers Weekly

"Do All the Good You Can is an encomium to Hillary Rodham Clinton as a politician and a Methodist." --Foreword Reviews

"Smith’s even-handed biography will shed new light on this little-known aspect of Clinton’s character and career." --Third Coast Review

“Through careful scholarship and insightful analysis, Gary Scott Smith demonstrates how Clinton’s progressive Christianity--rooted in a commitment to her childhood Methodism--was central to her public life, and key to her ability to endure numerous personal setbacks. Smith’s book not only is an important work for understanding Hillary Clinton’s political career but contributes to our understanding of religion’s undervalued role in shaping the political left in recent American history.”--Christopher H. Evans, Do Everything: The Biography of Frances E. Willard

“People are fascinated by, even obsessed with, Hillary Clinton’s faith, and they have not been shy about taking extreme positions, some rabidly skeptical and others blindly accepting of her sincerity. Gary Scott Smith provides a dramatic overview of the extraordinary range and depth of public perception about Clinton’s religiosity, and how those views were infracted by gender, the changing role of First Ladies, and the sharp fracturing of the American religious landscape.”--Margaret Bendroth, author of The Last Puritans: Mainline Protestants and the Power of the Past