Yesterday, President Obama nominated Rabbi David Saperstein to serve as the United States' Ambassador-at-Large for Religious Freedom. Saperstein would be the first non-Christian to serve in the role.
Today, Joshua DuBois really lays out in The Daily Beast why this appointment is so important, and why Saperstein is such a great pick for the job:
Saperstein, a lawyer by training, is known as a political powerhouse, someone who has the ears of top White House officials and a fair number of members of Congress as well. (Republican Rep. Frank Wolf of Virginia called Saperstein's nod "a good nomination" and urged quick Senate confirmation, and Rep. Ted Deutch of Florida, the leading Democrat on the House's Mid-East Subcommittee, tweeted his congratulations). Saperstein helped pass the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in 1993, was founding chair of the Congressionally-chartered U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom in 1999, and Newsweek named him the country's most influential rabbi in 2009. As one of the Jewish community's top policy advocates on Capitol Hill, his hands have been in debates from immigration to Obamacare.
But what's perhaps most interesting about Saperstein is the depth of support for him from diverse leaders across the American faith spectrum, outside of his own progressive Jewish community.
DuBois' full piece is well worth your time.
These are perilous times for religious freedom. The threats to religious freedom are widespread, and represent a crushing blow to human dignity everywhere. The displacement of religious people and communities is at an all-time high. Religious minorities in various parts of the world live in fear of unjust economic punishment, violence and even death.
What is perhaps ironic, is that the faith of the aggressor in religious freedom abuses in one part of the world, is often the faith of the victim of abuses in another. Religious oppression begets religious oppression. This fact is in our newspapers and on our television screens even today.
What should also be clear to us is that reiigious freedom only works if it is for everyone -- including those of no faith at all. Religious freedom for all must be the cause of all.
It is a testament to America's commitment to religious freedom that no matter the faith of our Ambassador, he or she advocates for the religious freedom of all.
David Saperstein has spent his life doing this. He will make America proud by bringing this lifelong commitment of his to this new role, in service of his country and of all people who seek to live according to their beliefs.
The Senate should move to confirm Rabbi Saperstein immediately.