By Ken Camp // The Baptist Standard
Below is an excerpt. You can read the full article on the Baptist Standard’s website.
WASHINGTON—By the narrowest margin, the U.S. Senate voted Jan. 24 to confirm Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback as ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom.
The deadlocked Senate voted 49-49, with Vice President Mike Pence casting the tie-breaking vote to allow Brownback to fill the post left vacant since David Sapperstein stepped down a year ago.
Brownback will head the State Department’s Office of International Religious Freedom, which monitors religious freedom abuses globally.
Immediately after the Senate vote, Brownback took to Twitter to tweet: “I’m looking forward to starting my new position as ambassador and working hard for the American people and religious freedom around the world.”
Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., who had made filling the ambassadorship a legislative priority, voiced his support for Brownback and his belief in the importance of the Office of International Religious Freedom.
“Confirmation of Sam Brownback as the ambassador-at-large sends a message to the world that religious freedom is a priority of the United States government,” he said. “It is an important first step, but we cannot stop there. Religious freedom must be an integral part of our overall national security and we must use all tools available to condemn acts of religious persecution.”
The Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty—which does not take positions on appointments to office—offered a measured response to Brownback’s confirmation.
“Some of Gov. Brownback’s prior positions on issues of religious freedom for everyone are concerning, such as his praise for President Trump’s original travel ban that differentiated among refugees fleeing religious-based persecution,” said Amanda Tyler, BJC executive director.
“The prolonged nomination process and razor-thin margin on final passage reflect additional concerns that Gov. Brownback’s domestic policy positions may negatively impact his ability to serve in this diplomatic post.
“We are encouraged by Gov. Brownback’s testimony that he would continue the work of Ambassador David Saperstein, and we look forward to working with Ambassador Brownback in his new role.”
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