By Ken Camp // The Baptist Standard

Below is an excerpt of the full article, which is available online.

WASHINGTON—President Trump announced his intention to nominate Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback as the next ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom—a decision that drew widespread but not universal praise.

In a tweet soon after the July 26 White House announcement, Brownback called religious liberty “the first freedom,” noting it centers on “the choice of what you do with your own soul.” 

“I am honored to serve such an important cause,” he wrote.

Before Brownback, 60, was elected governor, he served as a U.S. Senator from 1996 to 2011 and member of the U.S. House of Representatives in 1995-96. As a senator, he was a co-sponsor of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998. He also was co-chair of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus.

Importance of filling the post stressed

Since David Saperstein stepped down from the role as ambassador-at-large for international religious liberty seven months ago, various religious liberty advocacy groups publicly had urged the president to fill the position.

Randel Everett, founding president of the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative, expressed confidence Brownback will “build on the excellent leadership of the previous ambassador.”

Everett, former executive director of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, called Brownback “a strong person of faith, who was a key leader in Congress as a voice for the voiceless.”

“With three-fourths of the world living under religious persecution or oppression, the need for this position to be filled is urgent. We are asking that Gov. Brownback’s confirmation be fast-tracked so that he can begin work immediately.”

Elijah Brown, executive vice president of the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative, likewise emphasized the importance of the Senate “swiftly” confirming Brownback for the ambassadorship.

“This nomination comes at a crucial time to improve religious freedom worldwide and to give hope to millions persecuted for their beliefs,” said Brown, general secretary-elect of the Baptist World Alliance.

Amanda Tyler, executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, emphasized the importance of the ambassador’s position.

“It is critical that this important post in the State Department be filled,” she said. “Promoting religious freedom for all around the world is a mission that has garnered broad bipartisan support. While the Baptist Joint Committee does not take positions on appointments, we will be watching the process closely and look forward to working with Gov. Brownback in this capacity, should he be confirmed.”

Read the rest of the article on the website of the Baptist Standard, which includes more reaction from others.