Abingdon pulls Clinton devotional book
Amid additional concerns about unattributed content, Abingdon Press has ended distribution of “Strong for a Moment Like This,” a collection of devotionals sent to Hillary Rodham Clinton during the 2016 presidential campaign.
“Abingdon Press has zero tolerance for plagiarism,” said a statement from the Rev. Brian Milford, the president of the United Methodist Publishing House, which owns Abingdon.
“Consequently, we have discontinued sales, will remove existing copies from all sales outlets, and will have them destroyed along with our existing inventory.”
About 80,000 copies of the book were printed. “The initial printing costs and as yet unknown costs associated with return and disposal will represent a significant dollar amount,” the publisher said.
The book’s author is the Rev. Bill Shillady, a United Methodist minister in New York and pastoral friend to Clinton, who said he deeply regretted the situation.
“I apologize to those whose work I mistakenly did not attribute,” he said. “I apologize to those who must be disappointed, including Secretary Hillary Clinton, Abingdon Press and all the writers and others who have helped me publish and promote this book. I ask for everyone’s forgiveness as we work to set things straight.”
Abingdon will no longer host a Sept. 7 event, “An Evening with Hillary Clinton to Benefit Camp Olmsted,” at Riverside Church in New York.
Clinton will still participate in the event, Shillady told United Methodist News Service, although copies of the devotional book will not be distributed. Camp Olmsted is affiliated with the United Methodist City Society, where Shillady serves as executive director.
The mission of Camp Olmsted, a program of the historic Five Points Mission, is to ensure children and families from underserved populations have access to outdoor camping opportunities. The camp operates day and overnight summer programs for youth ages 5 to 14.
Abingdon said it conducted “an extensive review” of “Strong for a Moment Like This” following a discovery in mid-August of unattributed material in one of the devotionals. At that time, it was characterized as one omission “in a volume that includes over 200 original source citations and dozens of other attributions.”
After the review, Milford’s statement said, the Publishing House “was alarmed” to find other unattributed content. “We are contacting all writers and contributors involved; we deeply appreciate their time and understanding, as well as the cooperation of our valued trade partners.”
Among the contributors were a group of young clergywomen who wanted to help provide Clinton with some spiritual support during the campaign.
The creators of the #wepraywithher project — the Revs. Paige Boyer, Emily Peck-McClain, Danyelle Trexler Ditmer, Shannon Sullivan and Jen Tyler — expressed sadness that the book was being pulled but said they remained proud of their collective work.
“And while we are deeply disappointed, we recognize that Rev. Shillady played an important role in connecting us with Secretary Clinton and making this project a reality,” they said in a statement posted on social media.
Bloom is the assistant news editor for United Methodist News Service and is based in New York.