Senate Panel Reviews International Religious Freedom Nomination

Last week the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing featuring Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, President Donald Trump’s pick to be U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom. Chairing the hearing, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) praised Brownback as “a longtime champion of religious freedom globally,” and the committee’s top Democrat, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), similarly welcomed him.

Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) posed questions related to domestic religious freedom battles connected to marriage, sexuality, and abortion debates. However, Brownback, without retreating from his longtime efforts in defense of life and liberty at home, emphasized the focus of this ambassadorial position on international religious freedom and the power it has had as a post supported by members of both major political parties. “If you start to veer out of that lane, you get pulled to other topics that other people are charged with doing, you’re going to lose the bipartisan support for the position, which is critical to have.”

In his prepared remarks, Brownback said, “Religious freedom is a fundamental right of every human no matter where they live, who they are, or what they believe. It is the right to do with your own soul what you choose, without the interference of any government or group.” Referencing the growing persecution of religious minorities worldwide, he concluded, “We cannot let this dire situation continue without an aggressive response. We as Americans must stand strong for this first freedom or we will see the world spin into increasing conflicts and violence. We must act to protect and preserve this most basic right for all people.”

Video and testimony from this hearing, which included attention from Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) to the trouble NRB member Compassion International has had with the Indian government forcing it to end its child sponsorship program there, is available here.

By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations

Published: October 13, 2017

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