Just as it confronts fallout with some religious communities over President Barack Obamaâ€™s newly expressed support for same-sex marriage, the Obama re-election campaign is hiring a religious outreach director, it confirmed Tuesday.
Michael Wear, who currently serves as executive assistant to the executive director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, will join the Obama campaign in Chicago as faith vote coordinator, a campaign official said.
Wear, who was raised a Catholic but now attends a nondenominational, evangelical-style church in Washington, has spearheaded White House outreach to evangelicals and has focused on policy issues like adoption throughout Obamaâ€™s first term.
A source close to the campaign said the decision to hire a faith-focused staffer was provoked largely by continuing criticism of the administration from Americaâ€™s Roman Catholic bishops and conservative Catholic organizations.
â€œI donâ€™t think the campaign originally had this position in its box,â€ said a source close to the campaign, who refused to speak on the record because the person was discussing sensitive issues.
â€œBut persistent opposition from Catholic groups sent the message that this was something (the campaign) had to think about longer-term,â€ the source said.
Sources close to the campaign say the timing of Wearâ€™s hiring was not dictated by the controversy over Obamaâ€™s support for legalized same-sex marriage. After Obama announced his support, he hosted a conference call with 13 pastors Wednesday to talk about his views. [More]