Last Week, Today: ​The Ultimate Exit Interview

Essential Reads on Faith, Politics & Culture

Last week, Michael launched a new website, as well as a new resource he created: “5 Questions Christians Should Ask Before Voting.” You can receive the resource by visiting www.michaelwear.com and signing up for it, or because you are already receiving this newsletter, just reply to this email and Michael will send you the pdf of the document. Finally, Michael was able to speak about "Christian Faithfulness and Modern American Politics” last night at Door Creek Church in Madison, WI. A picture from the event is at the end of this newsletter. More updates from Michael on the election and Reclaiming Hope to come soon!

The Ultimate Exit Interview

Doris Kearns Goodwin, a biographer of several US presidents, and Barack Obama met to talk about "peculiar ambitions," haunting decisions, and how Obama thinks of himself in the context of those who have gone before him.

When It comes to Baskets, We're all Deplorable

JD Vance responds in The New York Times to Hillary Clinton's "basket of deplorables" comment. "Those with morally objectionable viewpoints can still be good people," Vance writes. "Most of us fall into another basket altogether: One where prejudice — even implicit — coexists with incredible compassion and decency."

How Civil Society in the EU & US is “Countering Violent Extremism”

Melissa writes about a recent report published by the British Council, along with Georgia State University and the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, that explores the ways in which civil society organizations are working towards countering violent extremism.

The Best News You Don't Know

Most Americans, regardless of political views, believe that global poverty has worsened or remained steady in the past 20 years. But that couldn't be farther from the truth. Nicholas Kristof reports.

The Definitive Story of How the National Museum of African American History and Culture Came to Be

In 1915, a group of African-American veterans of the Civil War proposed a museum to commemorate African-American history in Washington. That idea has finally come to fruition. The director of the museum, Lonnie Bunch, narrates how the museum came to be and how it tells the story of America's identity.

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Michael’s book, Reclaiming Hope: Lessons Learned in the Obama White House About the Future of Faith in America is available for pre-order now on AmazonIndieBoundBooks-A-Million, and Barnes & Noble.

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Last Week, Today: Even the government’s smartest lawyers can’t figure out religious liberty

Essential Reads on Faith, Politics & Culture

Update: MTV interviews Alan Noble and Michael Wear on how Public Faith represents an "armistice for the culture war."

Even the government’s smartest lawyers can’t figure out religious liberty

Emma Green provides a well-balanced, astute perspective on the recent US Commission on Civil Rights report on religious liberty.

Donald Trump’s anything-goes campaign sets an alarming political precedent

Jonathan Martin writes on the potential implications that Trump's campaign will have on future political races, "in which candidates pay no penalty for unabashedly telling untruths, disregarding the public’s right to know, and lobbing racially charged accusations."

Also worth reading is Evan Osnos' well-researched piece on what Trump's first term in president would likely look like.

U.S. household incomes soared in 2015, recording biggest gain in decades

Some important facts to note from this article: 
- In 2015, "the poverty rate fell by 1.2 percentage points, the steepest decline since 1968." 
- Median household income rose 5.2% in 2015, which is the largest single-year rise in the history of our measuring that statistic (since 1967) 
- In 2015, "incomes increased across racial and ethnic groups as well as for both men and women. The gender pay gap narrowed to a record low"

I used to be a human being

Andrew Sullivan pens an essay on how his relationship with the internet almost killed him -- quite literally.

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Michael’s book, Reclaiming Hope: Lessons Learned in the Obama White House About the Future of Faith in America is available for pre-order now on Amazon,IndieBoundBooks-A-Million, and Barnes & Noble.

Last Week, Today | Relatively few Americans live in partisan media bubble, but they’re influential

Update: Millenial, an online blog and journal by Catholic millennials,interviewed Michael on Public Faith and its new voice in this political season.

Relatively few Americans live in partisan media bubble, but they’re influential

Despite our politically polarized climate, the majority of Americans get their political news from mainstream, relatively centrist media sources like MSN or AOL. So why all the talk of "partisan media bubble"? Brendan Nyhan explains.

Clinton, Trump, or neither? 3 views on the 2016 presidential election

Christianity Today has a special election feature: Three evangelical leaders - Ron Sider, James Dobson and Sho Baraka - write about how they will be voting in the presidential election this November. (Spoiler Alert: James Dobson’s interview is ridiculous.)

Civil rights or religious liberty — what’s on top?

U.S. Civil Rights Commission issued a report Wednesday that flatly states "religious exemptions to the protections of civil rights....significantly infringe upon these civil rights." It also states that "a basic right as important as the freedom to marry should not be subject to religious beliefs.”

This election’s faith-based candidate

EJ Dionne Jr. writes about how Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. challenged millions of Americans like him and Hillary Clinton who grew up in a conservative family to "embrace a Christian’s obligation to struggle for social and racial justice."

Reactionaries in our time

Rod Dreher explains how the "Benedict Option" is not an attempt to recreate a Golden Age in history, but a "recovery of the metaphysical vision the premodern Christians had," that is, "communities within which it is possible to live in greater harmony with God (which is to say, with reality) and with each other."

Pete Wells has his knives out

Ian Parker provides an inside look into the world of food criticism and Pete Wells, the restaurant critic at The New York Times.

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Michael’s book, Reclaiming Hope: Lessons Learned in the Obama White House About the Future of Faith in America is available for pre-order now on Amazon,IndieBoundBooks-A-Million, and Barnes & Noble.

Last Week, Today: How Churches Change the Equation for Life After Prison

Essential Reads on Faith, Politics & Culture

Update: Check out Michael's fun interview with Ian Cron and Suzanne Stabile on looking at politics through the lens of the Enneagram (a personality assessment and framework).

How Churches Change the Equation for Life After Prison

Morgan Lee writes in Christianity Today about what some churches are doing for the formerly incarcerated and how many churches are missing a critical opportunity for ministry after prison. “Why is it that the same vans that come to the prison on Wednesday and Sunday nights to take us to Bible study seem hesitant to pick us up from our homes now that we are released?” said Dennis Gaddy, who was interviewed in Lee's story.

Crying Wolf, Then Confronting Trump

Frank Bruni writes about how the hyperbolic charges from the left and right about the other side has "hollowed out" important words (e.g. "racist," "fascist") such that they "lose their precision and their sting" especially when it matters most.

Georgetown University Plans Steps to Atone for Slave Past

Although many universities, from Brown to Harvard to University of Virginia, have recognized their historical ties to slavery, Georgetown University is the first university that plans to make tangible steps to atone for the slave labor from which it benefited. As Michael tweeted, "This step is both unique and emerges from a commitment to Christian doctrine."

U.S. Investigating Potential Covert Russian Plan to disrupt November elections

National intelligence officers are investigating the scope and intent of what appears to be a Russian campaign to "hack systems used in the political process," especially in the upcoming elections.

How the Christian ‘masculinity’ movement is ruining men

Chandler Epp guest-writes in Jonathan Merritt's RNS column about how the biblical model of manhood is quite different from the current Christian model; manhood should be defined by moral character, not muscular strength.

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Michael’s book, Reclaiming Hope: Lessons Learned in the Obama White House About the Future of Faith in America is available for pre-order now on AmazonIndieBoundBooks-A-Million, and Barnes & Noble.

Last Week, Today | Introducing: PublicFaith.us

Essential Reads on Faith, Politics & Culture

Introducing: PublicFaith.us

Michael, Alan Noble, and a group of other Christians have teamed up to create Public Faith, a platform that lays out a 21st century political vision, one that is grounded in a commitment to an orthodox Christian faith and a belief in working towards the common good. The goal is to introduce a new, confident and humble Christian voice in this political season, one that chooses not to withdraw from the political fray nor embrace partisan power-games. Read more about why it was created as well as Jon Ward's coverage. You can join Public Faith by signing up to affirm the vision statement here.

In today’s troubling times, where are our faith leaders?

E.J. Dionne responds to Alan Jacob's piece, included in last week's newsletter, on the loss of public Christian intellectuals. He argues that it is not that we have a shortage of Christian intellectuals, but more that we aren't hearing their voices, for we live in a climate where religion is subsumed under politics. In other words, Reinhold Niebuhr could not be Reinhold Niebuhr in 2016, Dionne writes.

The story behind Evan McMullin’s run for president

Who is Evan McMullin and why is he running for president despite such low odds of success? Josh Rogin gives us the story, from McMullin's poor, Mormon upbringing to his fight to protect Syrian civilians, in the Washington Post.

Under the Dark Spell of Trump, Jerry Falwell Jr. Is Damaging Public Christian Witness

Peter Wehner writes on how Jerry Fallwell Jr., president of Liberty University, has gone too far by "allowing the Christian faith to be used as a blunt, political weapon," thus negatively shaping public perception of Christianity.

Evangelicals and Race—A New Chapter

Mark Galli, editor of Christianity Today, writes that just as evangelicals experienced collective "God moments" on issues of world hunger and abortion in the '70s and '80s, evangelicals are today experiencing a new "God moment" on racial division and injustice.

"It’s difficult to find a mainstream white evangelical leader or historically white evangelical organization that doesn’t believe that racial justice is now a core concern, alongside abortion, human sexuality, and religious freedom—and that doesn’t believe that the days of all-white evangelical organizations are coming to an end."

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Michael’s book, Reclaiming Hope: Lessons Learned in the Obama White House About the Future of Faith in America is available for pre-order now on AmazonIndieBoundBooks-A-Million, and Barnes & Noble.