Last week the U.S. Senate confirmed David Saperstein as the Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, a position that serves as the principal advisor on international religious freedom to both the president and the secretary of state. In a Monday vote, the Senate also unanimously approved a one-year reauthorization of the United States Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) welcomes Saperstein’s confirmation and looks forward to working with him on religious freedom concerns around the world.
“The religious freedom issues around the world are great,” NAE President Leith Anderson said. “David Saperstein has a lot of important work in front of him, and we pray God’s greatest blessing on him.”
Saperstein was warmly received when he spoke at the October meeting of the NAE Board of Directors on his vision for a world in which all people enjoy freedom of religion and belief. Saperstein has also been an active participant in evangelical-Jewish and other interreligious dialogues and partnerships throughout his career.
For more than 30 years, Saperstein has represented the Reform Jewish Movement to Congress and the administration as the Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. In 1999, Saperstein was elected as the first chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, and he also headed the Coalition to Protect Religious Liberty.
“Rabbi Saperstein is well positioned for this post,” Anderson said. “We trust that his courage and passion for religious freedom for everyone will raise the U.S. government’s credibility and effectiveness on international religious freedom issues and bring relief to many who are being persecuted due to their faith.”
Although the United States Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) did not receive the long-term extension that the NAE and other advocates sought, the Senate vote allows USCIRF to continue its important work while efforts continue toward a more permanent reauthorization.
“USCIRF plays an indispensable role in shining a bright light on policies and acts of religious discrimination around the world. We call on Congress to make the strategic, bipartisan institution a permanent part of our nation’s religious freedom architecture,” Anderson said.