WASHINGTON—President Obama's re-election campaign has tapped a 23-year-old executive assistant in the White House faith-based office to head up its outreach to religious communities.
Michael R. Wear, who has worked in the White House for the past three and half years, will move to Chicago to become the campaign's Faith Vote director next week, White House officials confirmed on Monday (May 14).
"It has been an honor working with Michael Wear to create positive faith-based and nonprofit partnerships to serve people in need," said Joshua DuBois, executive director of the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Wear was DuBois' executive assistant.
A native of Buffalo, N.Y., Wear was an intern during Obama's 2008 campaign, specializing in outreach to religious groups. He helped arrange candidate Obama's appearance at a presidential forum at Rick Warren's Saddleback Church in California as well as a meeting between Obama and prominent Christian leaders in Chicago.
After organizing the prayer service at the Washington National Cathedral following the president's inauguration, he went to work for DuBois, who himself headed religious outreach for the campaign before assuming the directorship of the faith-based office.
At the White House, Wear has been involved in a wide range of religious issues, with particular responsibility for adoption and foster care. He also sought to build connections with young evangelicals, including those involved in the campaign to capture Ugandan guerilla leader Joseph Kony.
"Michael has spent a number of years in the faith-based office so he knows the territory," said Amy Sullivan, author of "The Party Faithful," a book on religion and American politics. "But the Republicans would put somebody senior with years and years of experience and a big Rolodex in that position. And I guess that tells you something about how Democrats still view faith outreach and its importance."
Wear graduated from George Washington University with a B.A. in political science in 2011. He turns 24 on Wednesday.
Mark Silk is Professor of Religion in Public Life at Trinity College and director of the college's Program on Public Values. He joined Trinity College after working as a reporter, editorial writer and columnist at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He writes on news media coverage of religious subject matter. Follow Mark on Twitter @directorsilk. Daniel Burke contributed reporting. Via RNS.