White House Nominates Sam Brownback as Religious Freedom Envoy: ‘Religious Freedom Is the First Freedom’

Sam Brownback APCharlie Riedel
AP/Charlie Riedel

The White House announced last week that Kansas Governor Sam Brownback will be nominated to be Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, a diplomatic post designed to advance protection of religious liberty and rights around the globe.

“Religious Freedom is the first freedom,” Brownback tweeted after the announcement of his nomination was made. “The choice of what you do with your own soul. I am honored to serve such an important cause.”


When asked about it during a press briefing at the U.S. State Department, Spokeswoman Heather Nauert praised Brownback’s nomination.

“I can tell you that I know we’re looking forward to having him on board,” Nauert said. “He will be involved with our Religious Freedom Report and that, we anticipate, will be coming out sometime soon.

“I don’t have an exact date for you at this point, but we’re looking forward to having him on board,” Nauert said.

Former Virginia Congressman Frank Wolf authored the bill that created the ambassadorship for religious freedom in 1998.

“Wolf said Brownback’s appointment will raise the profile of the post and bring more attention to religious freedom concerns,” the Kansas City Star reported.

“Brownback was first elected governor in 2010 after a failed presidential run and 15 years in the U.S. Senate, overseeing Kansas’ s transformation into one of the leading laboratories for conservative policies,” the Star reported.

“Senator Brownback will, I sincerely hope, see this position as contributing to the national security of the United States,” Tom Farr, president of the Religious Freedom Institute in Washington, D.C., said in the Star article.

“Advancing religious freedom in our foreign policy will help Christians and other religious minorities around the world who are suffering persecution,” Farr said. “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,” Farr said.

Brownback has received criticism from some in the media over his record on gay rights. “Last Wednesday, on what LGBTQ advocates have called the ‘administration’s anti-LGBT day,’ President Donald Trump said he would nominate Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, a vocal opponent of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, as Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom,” NBC reported.

NBC noted that Brownback is also pro-life (“anti-abortion” in the report) and opposes gay marriage.

The State Department also employs a Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons, a position created in the Obama administration currently held by career foreign service officer Randy Berry, according to the State Department website.


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