President Trump’s nomination for Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, Sam Brownback, is being unfairly attacked in the Senate and by progressives, and by CAIR – the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
The ambassador’s job is to report to the State Department and the President and call out the persecution of people overseas based on their faith.
Brownback is a devout Catholic and has strong evangelical ties.
He has a strong and powerful track record of religious freedom.
“Only under the Trump administration would someone so opposed to the constitutional rights of an American faith community be appointed to safeguarding international religious freedom,” said Robert McCaw, from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
They are wrong. Brownback will be the perfect choice. Finally, America is showing it is taking religious persecution seriously.
But, Brownback needs to pass the Senate confirmation first.
When he finally came up for a confirmation hearing, the opposition was unfair and intense.
Sen. Tim Kane, a Democrat from Virginia, said he was concerned with Brownback rolling back extra privileges for state employees based on sexual orientation.
Brownback replied he didn’t think it was the role of the executive branch to provide such privileges when the legislature did not pass a law to do so.
It was a “non-issue” question that was merely used to skewer Brownback’s Christianity.
The assault on his “religion” continued with Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat from New Hampshire. She asked whether it is okay to deny women access to abortion in the name of religious freedom.
Brownback replied the ambassador should stick with religious freedom without getting in the middle of the abortion debate, or other debates, that cannot even gain consensus in the United States.
Brownback said he would focus on religious liberty, even though senators tried to take him off track.
He focused on religious freedom, and that being ineffective on religious freedom would lead to more violence around the world.
Brownback wrote on Twitter: “Religious freedom is the first freedom. The choice of what you do with your own soul.”
Brownback is a great choice for bringing to light and fighting persecution against Christians and other religious minorities in India, Russia Turkey, areas of the Middle East, the Philippines, Burma, China, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, and other countries.
In fact, Christians are harassed in more countries than any other religious group.
Here are 12 things you need to know about Brownback and the ambassadorship:
- The position was established by the International Freedom Act of 1998.
- The ambassador-at-large must meet with foreign religious and political leaders to craft programs for safeguarding religious freedom and oversee the Office of Religious Freedom within the State Department. The office describes its mission as promoting religious freedom as a core objective of U.S. foreign policy.
- The office monitors religious persecution and discrimination worldwide, recommends and implements policies in respective regions or countries, and develops programs to promote religious freedoms.
- Annually, the office releases a report on the state of religious freedom worldwide.
- The office can list nations as “Countries of Particular Concern” for violations of religious freedom, which could result in economic sanctions from the U.S.
- The ambassador will report directly to the Secretary of State.
- Rate levels of religious persecution among “entities of particular concern.” It also allows the labeling of non-government entities, such as terrorist groups, as violators of religious freedom.
- Under a beefed-up provision in the 1998 religious freedom law, the ambassador will oversee a “designated persons list” of individuals who severely violate the religious freedom of others.
- During his tenure in the Senate, Brownback was a determined advocate for religious freedom. In 2010, he proposed a resolution condemning Iran’s persecution of religious minorities.
- He was one of only three members of Congress to receive a perfect score on the International Religious Freedom Scorecard.
- Protecting religious freedom is a vital part of America’s efforts to foster liberty abroad. It demands speaking on behalf of oppressed religious minorities around the world. Brownback has already shown that he will speak out against persecution and implement robust responses to genocide.
- He is a strong protector of Christians, noting that “the persecution of Christians and rise of religious intolerance are often lead indicators of regions and countries tipping into chaos.”
As the 2017 report from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) noted: “The blatant assaults have become so frightening – attempted genocide, the slaughter of innocents, and wholesale destruction of places of worship – that less egregious abuses go unnoticed or at least unappreciated.”
Brownback will give a voice to the persecuted.
Call your senator and ask that they approve his nomination by dialing (202) 224-3121.
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