Institute on Religion & Democracy Press Release
January 25, 2018
Contact: Jeff Walton Office: 202-682-4131, Cell: 202-413-5639, E-mail: jwalton@TheIRD.org
“The President could not have chosen a fiercer defender of the persecuted and oppressed.”
– IRD Religious Liberty Director Faith J.H. McDonnell
Washington, DC—The United States Senate on Wednesday voted to confirm Kansas Governor Sam Brownback as the U.S. State Department Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom. Brownback now leads the State Department Office of International Religious Freedom, monitoring religious freedom abuses across the globe.
The IRD urges Ambassador Brownback to quickly address such critical issues as implementing certain provisions in The Frank Wolf International Religious Freedom Act that the State Department has never implemented. Among these provisions are such key issues as creating a comprehensive religious prisoners list of persons who are detained, imprisoned, tortured, and subject to forced renunciation of faith, and requiring international religious freedom training for all Foreign Service Officers. IRD also would like to see Ambassador Brownback work towards reversing the recent, disastrous decision to lift some sanctions on the genocidal Islamic Republic of Sudan.
IRD Religious Liberty Director Faith J.H. McDonnell commented:
“With more countries than ever before actively engaged in systematic, ongoing and egregious violations of religious freedom, Ambassador Brownback has a challenging job. IRD’s hope is that religious freedom will promote peace, stability, and prosperity – not only for the marginalized and oppressed people within a country, but throughout their entire region.
“The real test for Ambassador Brownback will be to see if words are backed up with actions. It is still up to concerned citizens and human rights/religious freedom organizations to make that happen.
“There is reason for optimism: in Congress, Brownback was a key defender of the persecuted and oppressed around the world. He has been a strong advocate for international religious freedom, for the marginalized people in Sudan and for human rights in North Korea and China. For this reason, it is unfortunate that the Senate Democrats chose to make this a partisan issue. The Americans in their states do not see caring for victims of religious persecution as an issue of right versus left, but as an issue of right versus wrong.
“Brownback is neither reluctant nor fearful. A leader of great integrity and humility, he will bring conviction and confidence into his position as Ambassador-at-Large. He will confront the evil that harms people of faith, and he will speak with candor to President Trump and others in his Administration.”