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The Senate wants to substantiate Biden’s new worldwide non secular freedom ambassador now 

(RNS) — On Wednesday (Nov. 17), U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken released the federal authorities’s blacklist of the worst non secular freedom violators on this planet, recognized extra formally because the “nation of specific concern” listing. The announcement made clear the world is a harmful place for non secular freedom. It’s not information to the various people, of all faiths and none, in almost each nook of the globe, who expertise extreme non secular freedom limitations.

The State Division report is just one a part of how america advocates for worldwide non secular freedom. Since 1998, when Congress handed the bipartisan Worldwide Non secular Freedom Act, a particular ambassador has led U.S. diplomatic efforts in selling and defending non secular freedom overseas. 

For the reason that finish of the Trump administration, this publish has been empty. To make sure American values and pursuits stay on the forefront of the non secular freedom battle, the Senate ought to affirm Rashad Hussain, President Joe Biden’s nominee for ambassador-at-large for worldwide non secular freedom, earlier than Christmas.

For nearly 1 / 4 of a century, advocating for the precise of freedom of thought, conscience, faith or perception has been a diplomatic distinctive of america. Respecting the precise for all is a foundational a part of the American story, and selling non secular freedom overseas advances U.S. international coverage goals.


RELATED: Russia added to State Department list of worst religious liberty violators


But it surely’s greater than American beliefs which can be at stake. The correct to spiritual freedom is important to billions of individuals. The Pew Analysis Middle has discovered that 80% of the world believes in God or the next energy, whereas on the similar time reporting that non secular freedom is a proper in peril: Almost two-thirds of humanity lives in nations with restrictions on the apply of religion, in line with Pew research.

The mix is a recipe for instability, violent non secular extremism and human rights abuses.

Blinken’s announcement exhibits exactly why the State Division wants its level particular person on non secular freedom speedily confirmed. Whereas primarily a continuation of earlier designations, this 12 months’s blacklist had obvious shortcomings. For unspecified causes, the secretary inexplicably eliminated Nigeria from the listing regardless of ongoing assaults on Christians, the kidnapping of Christian ladies and women, and authorities violence in opposition to Muslims.

India continued to keep away from any point out, regardless of violence focusing on Muslims, discriminatory insurance policies and the closure of church buildings.

From my contacts, it’s clear the absence of the ambassador appointee left no sturdy advocate for non secular freedom throughout inner debates at State, thus slanting the desk towards the division’s highly effective regional places of work. 

It’s crucial, then, that, the Senate rapidly affirm Hussain to the publish. Having labored with the nominee, I can communicate to Hussain’s diplomatic expertise and commitment to spiritual freedom for all. He will probably be a devoted and diligent advocate for the persecuted. His testimony throughout his Senate affirmation listening to demonstrated his constructive method, pledging to proceed lots of the optimistic initiatives of his predecessors.

I’ve seen Hussain conduct skillful diplomacy in opposition to worldwide blasphemy legal guidelines, advocate for persecuted Christian converts and push for stronger U.S. insurance policies. He’s extremely certified and able to hit the bottom operating.

Don’t take my phrase alone: Former President Donald Trump’s ambassador, Sam Brownback, tweeted out a name for fast Senate motion earlier this month, whereas David Saperstein, who held the publish beneath former President Barack Obama, backed Hussain’s nomination in a joint op-ed with conservative Robert P. George, a previous chair of the U.S. Fee on Worldwide Non secular Freedom.

Former USCIRF Chair Katrina Lantos-Swett expressed support for Hussain, and USCIRF’s present management endorsed him for the job. He’s gotten assist from a various array of teams, together with the Religious Freedom InstituteOpen Doors, the American Jewish CommitteeChristian Solidarity Worldwide, the Anti-Defamation LeagueInternational Christian Concern and other non secular freedom advocates.


RELATED: Rashad Hussain faces Senate committee on historic nomination


The primary Muslim nominated for the place, Hussain will seemingly face intense scrutiny from some quarters about his religion. It’s ugly and unfair, in contrast to something earlier ambassadors, all individuals of deep non secular conviction, have skilled. The proper method is to concentrate on {qualifications} and observe document. 

The USA has a noble custom of advocating for the precise of all individuals to hunt final reality as their conscience leads, free from concern or hurt. The job of the non secular freedom ambassador is critically essential. U.S. management is important to stem the tide of rising non secular persecution. Hussain’s affirmation by Christmas would guarantee strong American engagement when it’s wanted most. 

(Knox Thames final served because the particular adviser for non secular minorities within the Obama and Trump administrations. He’s writing a guide about world persecution. Comply with him on Twitter @KnoxThames. The views expressed on this commentary don’t essentially mirror these of Faith Information Service.)

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