WASHINGTON, DC – Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council and anchor of the daily radio broadcast Washington Watch, has been appointed to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) upon the recommendation of Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The appointment was announced on Monday, May 14, 2018.
Perkins earned a BS degree at Liberty University and a Masters’ degree from Louisiana State University. He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Liberty. Following his service in the United States Marine Corps, he served as a police officer in Baton Rouge and instructed police officers in courses offered by the U.S. State Department’s Anti-Terrorism Assistance Program.
Prior to joining the Family Research Council, Perkins served in the Louisiana Legislature from 1996 to 2004, where he initiated the State Family Impact Statement, Comprehensive Abortion Clinic Regulators, the Genetic Nondiscrimination Act, and the public-school Internet Filtering initiative. He was responsible for the expansion of the Louisiana Department of Corrections with respect to their cooperation with faith-based organizations to reduce recidivism in correctional institutions.
In addition to being president of the Family Research Council, he is a board member of Caring to Love Ministries, the president of the Council for National Policy, an elder in his home church, and an in-demand and highly-respected ordained minister.
Despite criticism of his appointment by several liberal and Islamic entities, Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy and a former USCIRF commissioner, expressed his confidence that Perkins’ “clarity and courage in the advocacy of religious freedom and universal human rights will be an outstanding addition to the mission of USCIRF and its vitally important work across the world in these difficult times.”
Perkins released the following statement after his appointment:
“I am grateful to Majority Leader McConnell for appointing me to this prestigious position. From my post at USCIRF, I look forward to doing all that I can to ensure that our government is the single biggest defender of religious freedom internationally. One immediate step our government can take in this regard is to make sure that the Frank R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act is fully and properly implemented. As a commissioner, I also look forward to working with willing partners among those nations on USCIRF’s list of ‘Countries of Particular Concern’ to substantively address religious freedom concerns, including at the grassroots level, and assist them in being removed from the list. It is my hope that through the work of USCIRF, the world will become one step closer to recognizing the vital role religious freedom and the defense of religious minorities play in peace, security and human flourishing.”
Other persons of note who have served as commissioners include Elliot Abrams, John Bolton, for U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and current National Security Advisor to President Donald Trump; and Robert Seiple, the first Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, a position filled earlier this year by former U.S. Senator and Governor of Kansas, the honorable Sam Brownback.
The USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government commission created by the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) that monitors the universal right to freedom of religion or belief abroad. USCIRF uses international standards to monitor religious freedom violations globally and makes policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress. USCIRF Commissioners are appointed by the President and Congressional leaders of both political parties. Their work is supported by a professional, nonpartisan staff. USCIRF is separate from the State Department, although the Department’s Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom is a non-voting ex officio Commissioner.
Perkins will continue to serve as the president of the Family Research Council during his two-year term as a commissioner of the USCIRF.
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