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Senator Lankford Applauds Nomination of Ambassador for International Religious Freedom

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today issued the following statement on President Trump’s nomination of Kansas Governor Sam Brownback to be the Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom at the State Department: 

“I applaud the President for nominating an Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom at the State Department. The US Commission on International Religious Freedom’s 2017 report claims that numerous countries, including China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Russia, among others, continue to imprison, torture and persecute religious minority communities, including Jews, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, and Buddhists. As anti-religious freedom regimes expand around the world, the United States should clearly speak out for human rights, including religious liberty. According to the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative, five billion people around the world face religious persecution and one-third live in places where religious freedom is severely restricted. One of America’s greatest exports are our values. Whenever necessary, we should advocate for human rights and the right of any person to live their faith peacefully and freely.”

Mr. Brownback has been Governor of Kansas since 2011. Previously, he served as a US Senator (1996-2011) and a Representative in the House of Representatives (1995-1996) from Kansas. While a member of the Senate, he worked actively on the issue of religious freedom in multiple countries and was a key sponsor of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998. 

This issue has been a priority for Lankford. On April 13, Lankford sent a letter to the President to encourage his administration to take steps to protect international religious freedom by hiring an Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom. On March 17, Lankford wrote an op-ed about State Secretary John Kerry’s religious genocide designation a year ago, and what America should do to protect persecuted religious minorities abroad. In December 2016, President Obama signed the Frank R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act, a bill co-sponsored by Lankford, to strengthen the US’ effort to combat persecution of religious minorities. In 2015, Lankford successfully secured a Trade Promotion Authority amendment that promotes international religious freedom in our trade negotiations.