Rabbi David Saperstein Appointed New Ambassador for International Religious Freedom
By Kristin Wright, Director of Advocacy at Open Doors USA
President Obama has appointed Rabbi David Saperstein as the new Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious freedom. It’s an important appointment that comes at a crucial time, as religious freedom around the world, particularly in the Middle East, is increasingly under fire. As ambassador, Rabbi Saperstein will head the State Department’s Office of International Religious Freedom, dedicated to monitoring religious freedom abuses throughout the world. The position was vacant for 9 months after Suzan Johnson Cook left in October of last year, and religious freedom organizations have since been advocating for a swift appointment. Secretary of State John Kerry announced the nomination at the State Department on Monday, July 28, 2014, saying that Rabbi Saperstein will be a strong voice for religious freedom. “When it comes to the work of protecting religious freedom, it is safe to say that David Saperstein represents the gold standard,” he said. Saperstein was instrumental in the 1993 passage of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, requiring the government to demonstrate a compelling reason for any action that encroaches upon exercise of religion. He is a reform rabbi and lawyer, and has led the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism for 30 years. Saperstein has had a lengthy career in Washington, focusing primarily on social justice and religious freedom issues. In 2009 Newsweek magazine named him America’s most influential rabbi. Rabbi Saperstein has a significant task ahead of him in speaking out against the disintegration of religious freedom in many areas around the world. His nomination comes at a crucial time, and we look forward to working with him to continue to advocate for those who are persecuted and oppressed for their faith. Join us in our advocacy efforts, and stay informed about updates in Washington DC, by joining our advocacy email list today. Thank you for your continued support of the persecuted church!