If the Senate approves his nomination as Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback will face unprecedented challenges in discharging his new responsibilities.
Brownback will assume office in a year when it is projected that 7,000 people will be killed for their religious beliefs and when five billion people face high or very high restrictions on their freedom of religion or belief.
Once confirmed, Brownback will head the independent, bipartisan U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) created by the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act. This is the body that monitors the universal right to freedom of religion or belief abroad. USCIRF uses international standards to monitor religious freedom violations globally and makes policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress.
The office’s mission is to monitor “religious persecution and discrimination worldwide, recommend and implement policies in respective regions or countries, and develop programs to promote religious freedom.”
As a U.S. Senator, Brownback helped shape the International Religious Freedom Act, which passed in 1998.
The position was last held by Rabbi David Saperstein, former director of the Union for Reform Judaism’s Religious Action Center.