More than 700 advocates sign letter regarding Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom
According to the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative, an organization advocating for religious freedom around the world, five billion people live in situations where they face high or very high restrictions on their religion and conscience. As religious persecution has gained mainstream media attention, with some estimates at 90,000 people killed for their Christian faith every year, it is an issue that needs to be addressed immediately by the current administration because of America's influence around the world. The United States currently has a position open to be filled in the State Department, the Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, who reports to the Secretary of State, advocates for freedom of religion which underpins a wide array of human rights, economic interests and national security.
With transition to the Trump administration, the position is now vacant. In the past two decades, it has taken prior administrations an average of 353 days (one year) to secure a nomination for Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom.
To encourage the Trump administration to move swiftly on a nomination for Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative sent a letter to President Trump that was signed by 715 human rights and international religious freedom advocates.
Elijah Brown, EVP of 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative said that, "There is mounting evidence that countries that maintain broad, plural, and inclusive religious freedom are less prone to violence, less likely to export terrorism, and more likely to grow their overall economy."
"Supporting the most vulnerable around the world through an Ambassador for International Religious Freedom has wide bi-partisan support. During the next 353 days more than 7,000 will be killed for their religious beliefs. On behalf of those persecuted, dying for their faith and languishing in the midst of injustice, we ask President Trump to show commitment and to move quickly on this appointment."
According to Religion News Service the letter is being responded to by the Trump administration with three potential picks for the position including a former Baylor University President.
"President Trump is reportedly considering naming former Baylor University President Ken Starr to head the State Department’s Office of International Religious Freedom. Others rounding out the short list for the position include Nina Shea and Johnnie Moore, according to Foreign Policy, which first reported the picks on Thursday (Feb. 9). Rabbi David Saperstein had served as ambassador for the last two years."