President Trump announced Wednesday that he is nominating Governor Sam Brownback of Kansas to be the Ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom. The Kansas City Star reports:
Brownback had long been expected to be named to the post.
“Religious Freedom is the first freedom,” the governor said on Twitter Wednesday evening. “The choice of what you do with your own soul. I am honored to serve such an important cause.” …
The ambassador serves as the United States’ main spokesman for oppressed religious minorities around the globe. Brownback had been a top choice for religious leaders because of his advocacy on the issue during his tenure in the U.S. Senate.
The position requires Senate confirmation.
“Senator Brownback will, I sincerely hope, see this position as contributing to the national security of the United States,” said Tom Farr, the president of the Religious Freedom Institute in Washington, D.C.
“Advancing religious freedom in our foreign policy will help Christians and other religious minorities around the world who are suffering persecution,” said Farr, who served under two of the previous ambassadors. “It will at the same time undermine religion-based extremism and terrorism. He has an extraordinary opportunity, at low cost, to advance the fundamental national security interests of our nation.”
Some senators have described the job as made for someone like Brownback, who has advocated for human rights in places like Darfur and North Korea; but LGBT groups were outspoken in their criticism of the governor. The Religion News Service reports
Tom Witt, executive director of the LGBT-rights group Equality Kansas, decried Brownback’s nomination because of his conservative views on issues such as same-sex marriage.
“He has caused enough damage here in Kansas,” Witt said in a statement. “We do not wish him upon the world.” …
Brownback has long been a favorite of Christian conservatives for his strong stances as a U.S. senator against abortion and same-sex marriage. He also gained some attention as a vocal critic of the entertainment industry. …
Brownback converted to Catholicism in 2002 after having been a Methodist, and his religious devotion and commitment to helping the poor in other nations has led him in the past to break the mold of classic conservatives.
Featured image: Sam Brownback speaking at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland on February 27, 2015, by Gage Skidmore [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons