Obama’s Former Faith Chief: Democratic Party Has ‘Religious Illiteracy Problem’
The former director of Barack Obama’s faith-outreach efforts says that when it comes to religion, Democrats are tone-deaf.
That, he says, explains why people of faith voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump in November’s election.
Michael Wear served in the White House faith-based initiative during Obama’s first term, and then was tapped by the president to direct faith outreach for his successful 2012 re-election campaign, where he led evangelical outreach and helped manage White House engagement on religious issues.
According to Wear, the Democrats’ “religious illiteracy problem” is tied to the demographics of the country, with more irreligious 20- and 30-year-olds taking positions of power in the Democratic Party.
“They grew up in parts of the country where navigating religion was not important socially and not important to their political careers,” said Wear in a new interview with the Atlantic. “This is very different from, like, James Carville in Louisiana in the ’80s. James Carville is not the most religious guy, but he gets religious people—if you didn’t get religious people running Democratic campaigns in the South in the ’80s, you wouldn’t win.”
But the Democrats’ disengagement from religion and religious people is more than just a demographic issue, Wear insists. It is also tied to culpable negligence.
Religious Americans’ overwhelming push for Donald Trump in the recent election “shows not just ineptitude, but the ignorance of Democrats in not even pretending to give these voters a reason to vote for them,” Wear said.
In the 2016 election, Wear said, evangelicals were looking for someone who could look out for them and at least try to understand their concerns, and they failed to find that in the Democratic party.
Wear also contends that the Democrats’ alienation of believers is tied to its alliance with the abortion industry. “Reaching out to evangelicals doesn’t mean you have to become pro-life,” he said. “It just means you have to not be so in love with how pro-choice you are, and so opposed to how pro-life we are.”
“The Democratic Party used to welcome people who didn’t support abortion into the party. We are now so far from that, it’s insane,” he added.
Wear’s comments follow closely on similar assertions by a pro-abortion writer who claims that the Democratic Party has destroyed its chances for success by barring pro-life candidates.
In an op-ed in the online journal Paste, Stephen Markley stated that Democrats have been shooting themselves in the foot by silencing pro-life voices within the Party.
While most liberals recognize that Democrats must reach out to working class whites whom they have alienated, Markley wrote, they have ignored “the primary cultural issue that keeps most of those voters incapable of even contemplating anything but a Republican vote,” namely abortion.
From Wear’s perspective, a growth in party disaffiliation is a way of “signaling moral discomfort” among many Democrats who feel abandoned by party leadership.
Pro-life Democrats who believed that their presence in the party could be an internal force acting as a constraint or a voice of opposition on abortion, “have mostly left the party,” he said.
“America is still a profoundly religious nation,” wear asserts.
“There are reports that high-level Democratic leadership was not interested in reaching out to white Catholics,” he said. “And they sure didn’t have a lot of interest in white evangelicals. That’s a huge portion of the electorate to throw out.”
“It doesn’t help you win elections if you’re openly disdainful toward the driving force in many Americans’ lives,” he said.
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