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Human Rights Groups Urge Lawmakers to Confirm Religious Freedom Ambassador


Religious freedom advocates are calling on the U.S. government to fill a crucial position that's aimed at protecting freedom of religion around the world.

The Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom runs the State Department's office which promotes religious freedom through foreign policy.

President Trump nominated former Senate member and Kansas governor, Sam Brownback to the role in 2017, but the Senate failed to vote on his appointment.

This week, the president re-nominated Brownback and sent his name back to the Senate for confirmation.

"The fact that now we've been without a leader in that role I think is a problem," David Curry, CEO of Open Doors USA told CBN News.  

"Because you have these situations around the world where we need a spokesman who understands these issues in-depth."   

"I think Sam Brownback would be terrific on that," Curry noted.

Brownback thanked the president in a tweet saying, "Thank you @POTUS for re-nominating me to be Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom. I will continue to serve as Governor until confirmed."

The president first nominated Brownback last July, but Democrats blocked his confirmation vote over Brownback's record on LGBT rights.

If confirmed, Brownback would be charged with investigating religious freedom violations around the world. He would then submit an annual report to inform the president about those violations.

Religious liberties worldwide will suffer so long as the position is unfilled, advocates say.

"Every time positions of this importance remain vacant, the people who suffer are people around the world who do not have a voice and cannot have a voice because who should be their voice are not there for them," Kristina Arriaga, vice chairwoman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, told CBN News.

The law established the office of Special Adviser on International Religious Freedom within the National Security Council, and a bipartisan U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

That commission submits an annual report on global international religious freedom which identifies countries that are hot spots of religious persecution.  

"We need a point person," said David Curry, president of Open Doors. "This is not a partisan issue.  Democrat or Republican or Independent, you need to care about the religious liberty of others."

"If we don't have the fundamental right to decide for ourselves what we believe, which is what at heart is the issue here, then what kind of freedom do we have?" added Curry.

The law requires the U.S. government to take action against religious freedom violators. The president is given some flexibility on the actions he must take and the punishment choices range from public ostracism to economic sanctions.

The 1998 Act also established the position of Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom within the U.S. State Department.






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