Looking at women's lives worldwide, Hillary Clinton is convinced that faith ioffers strength and hope to many, while "deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases" continue to oppress others.
The Democratic presidential candidate cited her own Methodist heritage as an example of positive faith during the recent Women in the World Summit in New York City. But religion's dark side, she said, is easily seen when doctrines limit access to "reproductive health care" and cause discrimination against gays and the transgendered.
In the future, she stressed, politicians will need to force religious leaders to change these ancient teachings to fit modern laws.
"Far too many women are still denied critical access to reproductive health," said Clinton, focusing on issues she emphasized as secretary of state.
"All the laws that we've passed don't count for much if they're not enforced. Rights have to exist in practice, not just on paper. Laws have to be backed up with resources and political will and deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed."
The Kennedy Center crowd responded with cheers and applause.