- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 27, 2001

The White House yesterday nominated John V. Hanford, a longtime foreign affairs aide to Sen. Richard G. Lugar, Indiana Republican, to be U.S. ambassador at large for international religious liberty.
"I'm tremendously honored by the president's intention to nominate me," Mr. Hanford said in an interview.
"I look forward to the confirmation process."
If confirmed, Mr. Hanford will fill a post left vacant for a year. He said he is eager to work "on the vital issue of human rights."
The announcement comes a week after Mr. Bush appointed three new members to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. That filled all the commission's nine slots and allowed it on Monday to elect a chairman.
"We're now ready to carry out our work, and the recent [terrorist] events will only make religious liberty more important in foreign policy," commission spokesman Lawrence J. Goodrich said.
The commission elected Michael K. Young, dean of the George Washington University Law School, as chairman. The nine-member panel serves through May 2003.
Under the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act, which established the commission and the ambassador's post, Mr. Hanford's confirmation would give him the 10th vote on commission policies.
The White House yesterday said Mr. Hanford was the "lead architect" of the 1998 law and noted his work since 1987 with Mr. Lugar, who has been chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Mr. Hanford is a graduate of the University of North Carolina and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Boston.
The post of ambassador at large was held in its first two years by Robert Seiple, former head of the World Vision relief agency, but has been vacant for a year.
The ambassador oversees an annual report on religious liberty abroad the most recent of which soon will be released and recommends to the secretary of state possible sanctions against nations that are the worst offenders against religious freedom.
The nine-member commission also issues a report and, being independent, can be critical of both administration policy and foreign countries with horrific human rights records.
The new Bush appointments to the religious freedom commission are Leila Nadya Sadat, a Muslim law professor; the Rev. Richard Land, head of religious liberty for the Southern Baptist Convention; and New York Catholic Bishop William F. Murphy.

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