The pundits agree. Carly Fiorina won the CNN presidential debate. Some polls have her moving from 13th place to second, up from one percent support to 15 percent support in a matter of a few days. Cara Carleton Sneed was born in Austin in 1954. She has three degrees, from Stanford, the University of Maryland, and MIT. Once divorced, she has been married to Frank Fiorina for 30 years. Fiorina has a compelling story, rising through the ranks from secretary to CEO of the world’s largest technology company. Under her leadership, Hewlett-Packard grew from a $44 billion company to $90 billion. She entered the world of politics with a run for the U.S. Senate in California, losing to incumbent Barbara Boxer in 2010. On May 4, Fiorina launched her presidential bid against big odds, but her stump speeches and tireless campaigning have thrust her into the upper tier of candidates. So now seems like a good time to dig into something the mainstream media will rarely cover. It is time to consider the faith of presidential candidate Carly Fiorina. We know six things about her faith.
1. Carly Fiorina was raised an Episcopalian. Her mother was her Sunday School teacher. She gave her a plaque when Carly was eight years old, which read, “What you are is God’s gift to you and what you make of yourself is your gift to God.” During her undergraduate years at Stanford, she studied medieval history, reading Thomas Aquinas, Maimonides, and other Christian, Jewish, and Islamic philosophers. The New York Times has reported that in more recent years, she has attended evangelical churches, mostly nondenominational, but not frequently.
2. Fiorina is an outspoken opponent of abortion. Speaking to the conservative Heritage Foundation, she said abortion-rights liberals protect “even flies,” while letting innocent babies die. As a global ambassador for Opportunity International, she speaks publicly for pro-life causes. Her official position is opposition to all tax-payer abortions, but allowing for legal abortions when the mother’s life is in danger and in cases of incest and rape.
3. She opposes same-sex marriage on religious grounds. Speaking to the Christian Broadcasting Network, Fiorina announced her support for California’s Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage, in 2008 and was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013. When debating Barbara Boxer, she said, “I do believe that marriage is between a man and a woman, but I have also been consistent and clear that I support civil unions for gay and lesbian couples.” She stated her conviction that “marriage is a religious institution because only a man and a woman can create life, which is a gift that comes from God.”
4. Fiorina turns to Jesus in difficult times, such as her treatment for breast cancer. According to the New York Times, she told Iowa’s Faith and Freedom Forum, “It was my husband Frank’s and my personal relationship with Jesus Christ that saved us from a desperate sadness.” Fiorina also credits her personal walk with Christ for giving her strength in the death of her step-daughter, who dealt with drug addiction.
5. Carly Fiorina is a evangelical Christian. When asked to define her religion, Fiorina flatly states, “I am a Christian.” At a prayer breakfast hosted by Opportunity International at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, she said, “My faith is deeply personal. There was a time in my life when my faith got to be kind of abstract. I prayed, but I sort of felt that God was a super CEO who couldn’t possibly know every detail of my life.” She turned to God during her battle with cancer. “Jesus was with me in a very personal way,” she said, speaking of the “power of our faith.” In an interview with The Christian Post, she said her faith informs her political views.
6. Fiorina does not often speak of a specific church life. Though acknowledging her faith in public speeches and working for many Christian causes, the Episcopalian-turned-evangelical does not speak of an active church life. She self-identifies as an evangelical Christian who prefers nondenominational churches and worship. My research could not find any instances in which she identifies a church membership near her home in Virginia or a church membership from her days in California. The New York Times, in a story on Fiorina’s faith, quoted her as admitting she does not attend church regularly, as of ten years ago. While it is certainly possible that Fiorina actively attends a local church today, that is not evident in her speeches or the reporting of many media source who have written on her life.
Carly Fiorina was raised an Episcopalian. While never abandoning her faith, it did not play as vital a role in her life as it does today until her bout with cancer in 2009. Fiorina credits her “personal relationship with Jesus” for getting her through life’s toughest battles, including the loss of her step-daughter and her fight with cancer. Her faith has been a major force in shaping her policies on such issues as life and Israel. With great conviction, the rising presidential candidate says it loudly and often – “I am a Christian.” That is the faith of Carly Fiorina.