from Pressure Points and Middle East Program

Still Vacant: The Post of Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom

March 25, 2014

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In January, I noted the vacancy in the post of Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom. As I wrote then,

When the Obama administration began, the post of Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom was vacant. This post, at the State Department, was established by the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 because Congress wanted State, and the entire Executive Branch, to pay more attention to the issue of religious freedom. (The act also established the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, of which I am a  member.)

The Obama administration filled the post of Ambassador at Large–in April,2011, more than two years after the president came to office. That’s one good way to judge what priority White House has given to the issue.

On February 6, the President spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast and said this:

We will keep standing for religious freedom around the world....I look forward to nominating our next ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom to help lead these efforts.

That was 47 days ago and he’s still "looking forward to nominating" someone. President Obama’s appointee resigned in October, so the post has now been vacant for five months. I assume it won’t take two years this time, but it is a bit mysterious why it seems impossible for the administration to demonstrate any interest in this post and to get it filled. Mysterious, and disgraceful.

 

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