Friday, January 22, 2010

Group Urges Action To Appoint International Religious Freedom Ambassador

CNSNews reported yesterday that the Christian Advocacy group, Open Doors USA, has begun a petition drive to urge President Obama to fill the vacant position of Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom. Open Doors spokesperson Lindsay Vessey said that an appointment is needed to demonstrate the importance of international religious freedom. The position was created by the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (IRFA). Washington Post's On Faith reported that rumors circulating in the capital suggest that the White House is considering prominent New York City pastor, Rev. Suzan Johnson Cook, for the position. Meanwhile, international religious freedom advocates are also concerned that the Ambassador-at-Large position does not carry enough clout to affect foreign policy.

Also yesterday, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom released a letter it sent earlier this month to President Obama urging him to designate Vietnam a "Country of Particular Concern" under the IRFA. It also asked him to press Congress to pass the proposed Vietnam Human Rights Act (S. 1159/ H.R. 1969). USCIRF had already recommended adding Vietnam to the list in its 2009 Annual Report issued last May. (See prior posting.)