News from the nation’s capital has Americans attuned to the battles between Republican and Democrats and liberals and conservatives over immigration, tax reform, healthcare, and government spending. Regardless of the subject at hand, until the recent passage of the tax reform bill, issues that many believe should be of major importance to America and the world at large are subject to the passive resistance of those opposed to whatever the Executive Branch wants to accomplish. The issue of protecting religious freedom seems to be missing.
One issue of which many Americans are unaware is the failure of the Senate to confirm the nomination of Kansas Governor Sam Brownback to the position of Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom.
The position was created in 1998 as part of the International Religious Freedom Act. Bob Seiple, former president of World Vision, was the first ambassador appointed to the position. John Hanford and Suzan Cook succeeded Seiple until President Obama appointed the first non-Christian, David Saperstein.
President Trump nominated Governor Brownback on July 26, 2017. Although religious persecution is on the rise around the globe according to a report called ‘Persecuted and Forgotten’ by the U.K. office of Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, and although people came to America 400 years ago to escape religious persecution, and although religious freedom is the first right recognized by our Constitution, the president’s nominee for this position has yet to be confirmed.
Governor Browback’s Nomination Expired in 2017
Governor Brownback is a devout Christian and an earnest supporter of religious freedom. By rule, his nomination expired at the end of 2017 and he will need to be nominated again in 2018.
While his nomination waits, groups like the Heritage Foundation have published multiple reports and have gathered country leaders to bring attention to the need for religious freedom, especially in the United States. John Malcolm and Emilie Kao recently released a report detailing the need to defend free speech and religious liberties.
The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention also regularly provides updates about the status of religious liberties around the world.
In order for America is to have significant influence in reducing religious persecution, confirming a nominee concerned with international religious freedom needs to have a higher priority.