Elliott Abrams

Pressure Points

Abrams gives his take on U.S. foreign policy, with special focus on the Middle East and democracy and human rights issues.

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Religious Freedom: The President “Looks Forward”

by Elliott Abrams
July 10, 2014


More than five months ago, on February 6th, President Obama spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast and told the audience how very much he cared about, and championed, religious freedom as a central part of American foreign policy.

[P]romoting religious freedom is a key objective of U.S. foreign policy.  And I’m proud that no nation on Earth does more to stand up for the freedom of religion around the world than the United States of America….Going forward, we will keep standing for religious freedom around the world….We continue to stand for the rights of all people to practice their faiths in peace and in freedom.

At that moment the key post in that area, that of Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom at the State Department, was vacant. So the President said

I look forward to nominating our next ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom to help lead these efforts.

Apparently the president likes looking forward, because he’s still doing it. There has been no one named. I wrote about this in January and in March, noting that the post had been vacant since October 2013. It has now been vacant for 9 months, which suggests that Mr. Obama’s concern is not all that great. After all, the post was amazingly enough left vacant for the first two years of the administration, which means that under Obama it has actually been vacant more often than it has been filled. That’s worth repeating: despite the words he spoke at the Prayer Breakfast, the post has been vacant for about three of his five and a half years as president.

So I repeat what I wrote in March: it is a bit mysterious why it seems impossible for the administration to demonstrate any interest in this post and to get it filled. Mysterious, and disgraceful.




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  • Posted by Dean Smallwood

    Nobody talks more and does less about religious freedom than Barack Obama .

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