‘There are two paths’, begins Barack Obama’s former faith adviser.
Talking about the shift in global politics since Brexit, the emergence of Donald Trump and the rise of nationalism across Europe, Michael Wear is not wholly pessimistic.
‘This can either continue to spiral deeper into tribalism and the politics of self affirmation,’ he admits.
But there is another possible outcome. In an interview with Christian Today, Wear outlines how the dramatic turn in global politics could provide a fresh opportunity for Christians.
‘The instability that this kind of politics is causing not just politically but in our social and personal lives can be an opportunity to grow the civic character needed for a better kind of politics,’ he says.
‘Faith offers the resources. Christianity offers the resources to find your security elsewhere so when you enter politics you are freed up to seek the welfare of the other.
‘Other-centred politics is not exclusive to Christianity but Christians have unique resources to help enable that kind of politics.’
Wear has written a book, Reclaiming Hope, about his years as one of the White House’s most junior advisers only to see Obama’s legacy shot to pieces by Trump’s triumphant campaign. And Wear does not hold the punches in his criticism of Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Labelling it one of the most arrogant in recent American history, he focuses on her refusal to engage the religious vote and points out her failure to win the majority of the Catholic vote – the first Democrat candidate to do so in years.
Faced with similar problems, the UK’s left wing movements are in equal ‘disarray’, he admits. But here again Wear is not dejected.
‘For the Labour party to be successful they have to with integrity believe that their message appeals to all in the UK and that they’re not seeking the flourishing of some over others,’ he says. ‘Until they are able to get that confidence, until they are able to have a message and policies that can be taken to all corners of the UK they will continue in this stream.’
He sees faith playing a key role in Labour’s rejuvenation.
‘The opportunity for faith on the left is in the recognition that a pluralistic society requires rather than is hampered by people of faith being able to fully live out their faith in public. The ability for the Christian to be fully Christian and the ability of the Muslim to be fully Muslim are not at odds but rather are part of the same whole.
‘This is something that in my country Republicans do not get in general. This is something that typical Labour values should be able to lean towards in the way that Conservatives are perhaps less likely to do so.
‘The alternative in what we see in France is that pluralistic society requires totalitarian secularisation that actually squashes freedom and squashes people’s personal identity.
‘That is the alternative on the left if Labour is able to articulate a vision of the fact that all faiths are bound together in their ability to fully express themselves. That could not just be a wining model but one that is deeply true and important.’
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