By Michelle Boorstein
Just as the subject of religious freedom is exploding in Egypt, the Obama Administration may finally be about to get in place its ambassador for religious freedom.
Advocates concerned about the oppression of religious minorities around the world have been hollering – largely to deaf ears – since President Obama took office about the delay in getting the position filled, saying it reflects a lack of seriousness about the subject. President Bush also faced criticism by people who felt he didn’t press the subject harder when dealing with countries like Egypt and China, where religious minorities suffer powerfully.
Now advocates are hoping that all the attention to Egypt and to how a future Egyptian government might handle religious freedom will raise the topic’s profile.
In the news this week was the White House putting forward for the second time a prominent celebrity preacher from New York City for the ambassador spot. Religious freedom advocates initially balked at the June nomination of Suzan Johnson Cook (among her monikers: “Dr. Sujay and “the Wall Street Pastor” for her weekly lunchtime worship in lower Manhattan), noting that she has no real foreign policy or religious freedom experience, but now some seem to be anxious to just get someone in the job at this critical time.
Cook’s first nomination died earlier this year, reportedly after some Senate members questioned her answers to some of the proforma questions and then that session of Congress ended. So she was re-nominated on Monday and must be approved by the Senate.
Do you think issues of religious freedom abroad should be a higher priority for the U.S. government?