Governor Sam Brownback has been nominated by President Trump as the Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom. Before serving as governor in Kansas, Brownback served in the Senate from 1996-2011. As senator, he was instrumental in promoting human rights policies.
Brownback was a sponsor of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998. This act has been one of the most pivotal pieces of legislation in protecting those worldwide from religious discrimination and persecution.
Furthermore, he sponsored the North Korea Human Rights Act, which was signed into law in 2004 and is due to be reauthorized this year. Some of the goals of this law are to provide humanitarian assistance for those inside North Korea, to input information about the outside world into North Korea, and to support North Korean refugees.
Many have recognized the necessity to fill the Ambassador’s position. The nomination was applauded by Senator Lankford who released a statement saying:
“As anti-religious freedom regimes expand around the world, the United States should clearly speak out for human rights, including religious liberty…
…Mr. Brownback has been Governor of Kansas since 2011. Previously, he served as a US Senator (1996-2011) and a Representative in the House of Representatives (1995-1996) from Kansas. While a member of the Senate, he worked actively on the issue of religious freedom in multiple countries and was a key sponsor of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998.”
What does the Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom do?
The Ambassador for International Religious Freedom heads the International Religious Freedom Office within the State Department. This office monitors the status of religious liberty in every country, recommends ways to improve religious freedom, and creates programs to foster such freedoms.
One of the major initiatives of the office is to create an annual report to Congress to document the status of religious freedom in 195 countries and suggest solutions. Those with the worst religious freedom situations are categorized as Countries of Particular Concern. Countries put on this list may be subject to US sanctions.
The Ambassador often meets with US and foreign government officials to raise concerns of religious freedom and negotiate solutions.