Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is facing new scrutiny for comments her campaign staffers made about Christian teachings and the differences between Catholics and evangelical Protestants and their political leanings in the 2016 presidential race.
WikiLeaks has been disclosing thousands of what it says are internal emails hacked from inside the Clinton campaign as she seeks to win the November 8 election and become the country's first female president.
In one of the emails, campaign spokeswoman Jennifer Palmieri messaged back and forth in 2011 with John Halpin, a senior fellow at the liberal think tank Center for American Progress. He wrote that the country's most powerful conservatives are all Catholic and called their politics "an amazing bastardization of the faith."
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, accompanied by traveling press secretary Nick Merrill, left, and director of communications Jennifer Palmieri, right, listens to a question from a member of the media as her campaign plane prepares to take off at Westchester County Airport in Westchester, N.Y., Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016, to head to Tampa for a rally in Tampa.
"They must be attracted to the systematic thought and severely backwards gender relations and must be totally unaware of Christian democracy," he said.
Palmieri replied, writing, "Catholicism is the most socially acceptable politically conservative religion. Their rich friends wouldn't understand if they became evangelicals."
Another 2011 email sent to current Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta from the head of a progressive group called for a "Catholic Spring," adapting the pro-democracy "Arab Spring" in the Middle East.
"There needs to be a Catholic Spring, in which Catholics themselves demand the end of a middle-ages dictatorship and the beginning of a little democracy and respect for gender equality in the Catholic Church," Voices for Progress President Sandy Newman wrote.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump told supporters Wednesday the emails show Clinton staffers "viciously attacking" Catholics and evangelicals.
"It's just the latest evidence of the hatred that the Clinton campaign has for everyday faithful Americans," he said. "If you're a person of faith, I think you're gonna vote for Donald Trump, and I have such endorsements and such support."
Podesta said a Federal Bureau of Investigation investigation into his leaked emails is part of a wider FBI probe into the suspected Russian hacking of Democratic Party emails - a charge that Russia denies.
Podesta alleged that longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone had "advance knowledge" of the leaks. Stone has admitted he has been in contact with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Stone also tweeted in August that WikiLeaks would attack Clinton and Podesta.
Podesta says Russia may be trying to influence the outcome of the U.S. presidential election to favor Trump, who has said he admires President Vladimir Putin.
Other leaked emails from the Democratic Party include allegations that Clinton campaign officials tried to discredit former Democratic presidential rival Bernie Sanders and suggestions the campaign should laugh off the controversy surrounding Clinton's State Department emails.