President Obama on Monday announced a long-waited nominee for the job of “religious freedom” ambassador, after the post sat vacant for nine months.
Rabbi David Nathan Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, was chosen for the position of ambassador at large for international religious freedom, which is subject to Senate confirmation.
Secretary of State John Kerry also introduced him at a press briefing late Monday morning, saying that religious freedom is an “integral part of our global diplomatic engagement.”
The post, however, has been problematic for the Obama administration since the beginning. The post, which was created for the purpose of promoting and defending religious freedom around the world, initially sat vacant for two years until it was filled by Suzan Johnson Cook in 2011. But Cook left in October, creating a vacancy at a time when religious persecution — particularly in the Middle East — was flaring abroad.
Kerry, in releasing the State Department’s latest report on religious freedom, cited Islamist militants’ recent demand that Iraqi Christians convert, pay a tax, or face execution. The report itself said millions have been forced to flee their homes because of religious beliefs.
Despite a bipartisan call to focus on religious freedom, Saperstein is a controversial pick in some circles.
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SOURCE: FOX News