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Book by Clinton's spiritual adviser pulled for plagiarism

By Martha Quillin/The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.) (TNS) • Sep 10, 2017 at 10:00 AM

The publisher of a collection of daily devotionals written by Hillary Clinton’s pastor has pulled the book after finding extensive plagiarism.

Abingdon Press, an arm of the United Methodist Publishing House in Nashville, Tennessee, released the Rev. Bill Shillady’s “Strong for a Moment Like This” on Aug. 15. Shillady said he wrote the devotionals to Clinton during the 2016 presidential campaign.

But after early excerpts were published, a pastor in Warsaw, Indiana, recognized the passage that Shillady said he wrote for Clinton on Nov. 9, 2016, the day after she lost the election.

Shillady, a graduate of Duke Divinity School, later apologized, saying he had taken “bits and pieces from a variety of places on the internet,” but did not remember cutting and pasting sections from particular works he found.

At first, Abingdon Press, which published and promoted the book, stood behind it. But this week, the Rev. Brian K. Milford, president and publisher of The United Methodist Publishing House, said the company has conducted an extensive review of the book “and was alarmed to discover other content unattributed by the author.

“Abingdon Press has zero tolerance for plagiarism,” Milford said in a statement. “Consequently, we have discontinued sales, will remove existing copies from all sales outlets, and will have them destroyed along with our existing inventory. 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.”

Milford said the company is examining its publication processes.

Shillady told CNN: “I deeply regret my actions. I was wrong and there is no excuse for it. I apologize to those whose work I mistakenly did not attribute. I apologize to those I have 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.”

Last month, Shillady told the News & Observer he became friends with Clinton in 2002. He said he co-officiated the wedding of Clinton’s daughter, Chelsea, and had led the funeral for Clinton’s mother. He said he began emailing devotionals to Clinton on Aug. 6, 2015, and continued through Dec. 31, 2016.

The Rev. Christy Thomas, a popular retired Methodist minister and blogger who lives outside Dallas, recognized her writing on page 108 of the book. An illustration in the book indicates the devotion was sent to Clinton on Aug. 7, 2015, making it the second missive he sent to her.

The three-paragraph devotional says, in part, “We need one another for strength, for guidance, for correction, for collective power to stand for good and against evil and injustice in whatever forms we find them. We must be connected to one another in basic unity to have what it takes to keep going.”

Three days earlier, Thomas had written in her blog: “We need one another for strength, for guidance, for correction, for collective power to stand for good and against evil and injustice in whatever forms we find them…We must be connected to one another in basic unity in order to have what it takes to keep going.”

Thomas she has long been aware that other pastors borrow from her writings when they craft their sermons, and that some did so without attributing the material to her.

“But putting it in a book and taking credit for it crosses an ethical line,” she said.

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