Rev. Shawna Foster is a millennial member of the LGBT community

Pete Buttigieg (D) has hired the first faith outreach director of the 2020 election campaign , making it clear that he is making religion a focal point of his bid for office. In a nation where most people identify as religious or spiritual, it’s almost surprising that Buttigieg is the only candidate so far to make this move.

Mayor Pete, an Episcopalian, declared his intentions to hire a faith outreach director early on, but he had not let on too much about his potential candidates. It is now known that the campaign has hired Rev. Shawna Foster as the campaign’s outreach director. This move is surprising to many because the position is typically dominated by older, more religiously conservative individuals who are going to appeal to the campaign’s targeted religious denomination.

However, Rev. Shawna Foster is a millennial member of the LGBT community and a former Episcopalian (now Unitarian Universalist) who seeks to bring together as many people as possible. According to her website, her religious denomination seeks to “confront power instead of blaming the powerless” and insists “religion must give a voice to the voiceless and strength to those in need.”

As the faith outreach director, she will decide which groups Buttigieg interacts with most on the campaign trail. Foster is quoted as saying “I want to make sure the campaign is really reaching out to faiths that typically haven’t had much say in politics — Native American spirituality, Sikh spirituality, Bahais.”

This could be a real boon for the religious people who are not courted by presidential campaigns often, where they represent too small a portion of the vote for them to be a focus of a candidate’s precious time and energy. Like previous presidential candidates’ outreach directors, Rev. Shawna Foster will have a major job ahead of her, deciding how to balance giving a voice to the voiceless while still pursuing huge blocs of voters.

Moreover, both Buttigieg and Foster will have to harmonize when it comes to their concepts of where religion and politics should and shouldn’t mix. This is a huge first step and one that will be closely watched by other campaigners, Cory Booker in particular, as they consider people to fulfill similar posts in their campaign. For now, supporters of Buttigieg wait for his outreach director to schedule her first meeting for Mayor Buttigieg, which could be an indicator of things to come.

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