July 27, 2017
If there's one thing President Trump has excelled at, it's hiring the right people for the right jobs. Yesterday, he added another solid pick to seven months of them, nominating Governor Sam Brownback (R-Kans.) to a post that will become a crucial one in the fight for the persecuted church: ambassador-at-large for religious freedom. As someone who's known Sam for years, I can say he is perfectly suited for the job -- which has never been more important than it is now, as faith is under fire in so many places around the world.
As FRC's Travis Weber pointed out, the ambassador-at-large post was created by legislation back in 1998 with the purpose of addressing religious freedom problems around the world, but it's seen limited success in shaping foreign policy in a comprehensive manner. The Frank R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act, signed into law just last December, revised the job, making it a direct report to State Secretary Rex Tillerson. This change (and others) should make whoever is in the role more effective. When it's someone of Governor Brownback's stature, we will have a real opportunity to see religious freedom significantly shape foreign policy.
In past U.S. administrations, the issue of religious liberty hasn't been given the prominence it needs to make a difference. We must bring back America's role as a global religious freedom defender by integrating and prioritizing religious freedom in our foreign policy across federal agencies. We also must conduct international religious freedom training for U.S. government employees and officials engaged in such work and ensure that our asylum and refugee processing mechanisms give fair consideration all claims of persecution on the basis of religion. Governor Brownback can help in all these areas.
"Specifically," Travis explains, "the United States must not neglect our responsibility to follow up on efforts to protect Christians, Yezidis, and others from the horrific violence in the Middle East. We have already recognized a genocide is taking place there, and now amid recent reports that State Department lawyers are removing that term from official descriptions of the situation, we must exercise even more vigilance to ensure victims of genocide get the protection they need and deserve."
Sam is a man of strong Christian faith, who takes this issue seriously. We applaud the president's choice and look forward to a new day for religious liberty under his leadership.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.