President Obama’s former Faith Advisor has said that associating Christianity with any political party is a ‘great disservice to the gospel’. Michael Wear, who was one of the youngest members of Obama’s team, has also suggested that President Joe Biden could be the catalyst for unity that America so desperately needs.
Wear was speaking as part of an interview with former Liberal Democrat leader, Tim Farron, about the politicisation of Christianity in America and said,
Politics is very complicated, and so we all love to have a very simple way of saying, ‘well, this is who I should vote for, and here’s who I must oppose’. That’s how politics has worked out among evangelicals to a certain extent, people are not applying their faith to politics. They have a certain set of questions which they supplant that comes to represent their faith and helps to simplify and direct their political priorities.
80% of white evangelical Christians in the USA would consider themselves conservative, and vote with the Republican Party. However, Wear argued that the affiliation, particularly during the Trump years, has damaged the ability to get the gospel heard.
He argued that Christianity is neither Right nor Left,
The Christian faith has incredible resources for our social and political lives, not just our personal lives. But as CS Lewis wrote, Christianity does not offer a particular political program, and when we reduce it to that, when we equate faithfulness with a certain set of policy priorities, we’re doing a great disservice to the gospel. We’re actually treating what is prudential as ultimate and dogmatic. And what that does is that undermines our ability to proclaim what is ultimate.
The interview was part of A Mucky Business – a podcast that seeks to engage Christians in the world of politics.
Speaking about President Biden’s approach to faith, Wear said,
What this election proved is that that we still need candidates like Biden…One thing that affected us in the Obama administration is that as president, you have to make decisions that upset people. So, it’ll be a real test for Biden when he has to make decisions that upset people and when he has to make decisions that especially traditional conservatives can perceive as antagonistic. Does the President take the time to explain what he’s doing? In these polarised times, it is important for civic leaders to explain to the other side what they’re doing and make sure that it’s not lost in translation.
I think he’s proven that when he does take the time to do that there are enough voters listening, not just to help elect him, but to start reweaving some of the fabric of American society so that we aren’t just solely divided along these partisan lines.
Wear explained what he thinks will be one of the biggest tests over the next three years,
“Is he going to make the decision to spend the political capital that’s necessary to appeal to voters who may not support him in a reelection campaign? And that’s a very difficult decision to make but it’s something that seems to be at the core of who Joe Biden is, who he presents himself to be. I just think it’s an essential thing, that this White House finds some real opportunities to reach out beyond traditional democratic constituencies, and I think they’ll do that.”
The full interview, went on to cover topics including Wear’s time in the White House, advising Obama’s on engaging evangelicals, and how Wear came to faith, and is available here.
Written by: Esther Jolliffe