The faith of Hillary Clinton in 7 quotes

Democratic US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton answers a question from the audience during a Town Hall event in Detroit, Michigan, March 7, 2016.Reuters

The 2016 American presidential race is proving a tricky and taxing subject for Christians. Though many US evangelical believers are traditionally Republican voters, they're faced with a candidate who might not perfectly represent their faith and worldview. However, while his language can be clumsy, Donald Trump does regularly refer to his belief in God. On the other side of the equation the likely Democratic candidate is much less vocal about her faith.

However, Hillary Clinton is known to hold a deep and private Christian faith, and her devotion to it may surprise many voters. On occasion, in interviews and at events over the years, she has spoken about her long-held membership of the Methodist church (she was a Sunday school leader and long-term prayer group member), and the strength and purpose she draws from God. Here are seven key examples, most  of them drawn from the current campaign trail, which illustrate that while Clinton's policies might not all align with some views of Christian morality, she is at least a woman who deeply values prayer, Scripture, the Church and God.

On what faith means in practice...

"I am a Christian... I think that any of us who are Christian have a constant conversation in our own heads about what we are called to do and how we are asked to do it, and I think it is absolutely appropriate for people to have very strong convictions and also, though, to discuss those with other people of faith... My study of the Bible, my many conversations with people of faith, has led me to believe the most important commandment is to love the Lord with all your might and to love your neighbour as yourself, and that is what I think we are commanded by Christ to do, 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, to find faith themselves that I think there are many different ways of exercising your faith."

(From an answer given at a campaign event in Knoxville, Iowa, Jan 2016.)

On the importance of her denomination...

"In place after place after place, the Methodist Church and my fellow Methodists have been a source of support, honest reflection and candid critique."

(From a 200th anniversary address at Foundry United Methodist church, September 2015.)

On how her faith shapes her politics...

"I have always cherished the Methodist Church because it gave us the great gift of personal salvation but also the great obligation of social gospel. And I took that very seriously and have tried, tried to be guided in my own life ever since as an advocate for children and families, for women and men around the world who are oppressed and persecuted, denied their human rights and human dignity. Like the disciples of Jesus, we cannot look away, we cannot let those in need fend for themselves and live with ourselves. We are all in this together."

(From an address to 7,000 Methodist women in Louisville, April 2014.)

On her daily connection with the Bible

"You're doing what is the most important thing to do, it's continuing to study and learn what the Scripture says and what it means. I have a preacher friend who sends me Scripture and devotionals, sometimes mini-sermons every day... It's alive. It's the living word."

(From a conversation with Baptist minister Rev Frederick Donnie Hunt, May 2015.)

And how the Bible has been her biggest influence... 

"At the risk of appearing predictable, the Bible was and remains the biggest influence on my thinking. I was raised reading it, memorising passages from it and being guided by it. I still find it a source of wisdom, comfort and encouragement."

(From an interview with the New York Times Sunday Book review, June 2014.)

On the key role Christianity plays in her life and development...

"My faith has sustained me, it has informed me, it has saved me, it has chided me, it has challenged me."

(From a 2008 interview with CBN's The 700 Club.)

On the meaning she draws from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount...

"The Sermon on the Mount should be something that you really pay attention to... What does the Sermon on the Mount really mean? What is it calling us to do and to understand? Because it sure does seem to favour the poor and the merciful and those who in worldly terms don't have a lot but who have the spirit that God recognises as being at the core of love and salvation. So there is much to be learned and I have been very disappointed and sorry that Christianity, which has such great love at its core, is sometimes used to condemn so quickly and judge so harshly. When I think part of the message that I certainly have tried to understand and live with is to look at yourself first, to make sure you are being the kind of person you should be in how you are treating others, and I am by no means a perfect person, I will certainly confess that to one and all, but I feel the continuing urge to try to do better, to try to be kinder, to try to be more loving, even with people who are quite harsh."

(From an answer given at a campaign event in Knoxville, Iowa, Jan 2016.)

Of course, Clinton is a divisive figure among Christians. But when even the Republican-backing 700 Club reports her to be "praying daily on the campaign trail with Bible verses in hand", maybe we shouldn't be so quick to dismiss the central role that faith could play in a future presidency.

Martin Saunders is a Contributing Editor for Christian Today and the Deputy CEO of Youthscape. You can follow him on Twitter: @martinsaunders