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Obama nominates Rabbi David Saperstein as ambassador for religious freedom

- The Washington Times - Monday, July 28, 2014

President Obama on Monday tapped Rabbi David Saperstein as his nominee for the position of ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom within the State Department.

Mr. Saperstein, the director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, appeared alongside Secretary of State John Kerry during the presentation of the 2013 Annual Report on International Religious Freedom.

"I am grateful that Rabbi Saperstein has chosen to dedicate his talent to serving the American people at this important time for our country," Mr. Obama said in a statement. "I look forward to working with him in the months and years ahead."

Mr. Saperstein, an adjunct professor at Georgetown University, teaches First Amendment church-state law issues.

Because he is a nominee, he did not offer any comment during Mr. Kerry's briefing on the report, which showed that last year was the worst for the displacement of religious communities in recent history.

In 1998, Congress enacted the International Religious Freedom Act, which authorized the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom and provided for the ambassador-at-large post in the State Department.

Earlier this year, Elliott Abrams, who serves on the commission, told the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on global human rights that the position had been empty for some time, and the vacancy "sends a message to other countries that we don't care."

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