Sam Brownback Has A Long History Of Attacking Freedom Of Religion
This week, Donald Trump announced that he is appointing Kansas Governor Sam Brownback to run the federal government’s Office of International Religious Freedom. Brownback is an ironic choice, because for his entire political career, Sam Brownback has used his power as an elected official to promote religious discrimination.
As a United States senator, Sam Brownback supported legislation designed to interfere with the ability of religious minorities to gain compensation for religious discrimination practiced by local governments. In 2009, he voted in favor of a legislative amendment seeking to help majority religions to use government funds to dominate minority religious groups in school settings. In 2008, Senator Brownback sought to protect the use of government authority to force children across America to swear oaths to his Christian god. In 2006, he passed legislation to assist government-run schools in coercing children into participating in religious rituals. In 2005, Brownback endorsed a proposed law that would have forced businesses to alter their practices to conform to the religious beliefs of employees.
As Governor of Kansas, Sam Brownback attempted an extremist religious takeover of state government, forcing all citizens to provide money to religious organizations. At his inauguration as Governor, Brownback hired a preacher to call upon all citizens of Kansas to become Christians, and to “repent of distancing ourselves from God”. In 2011, he joined Texas Governor Rick Perry in attempting to organize an event at which Christian governors would engage in a huge religious ritual advocating majority Christian belief while excluding other religions and atheists.
Governor Brownback used his power as an elected official to enforce fundamentalist Christian beliefs about reproductive choices onto all citizens, regardless of their individual beliefs about religion. He also signed an executive order attempting to ban marriages in Kansas that did not agree with his personal religious beliefs.
As Governor, Brownback hatched a plan to use state prisons to coerce citizens into religious conversion. He also established legal authority for government-sanctioned religious clubs at government-run universities, and provided special powers for these clubs to discriminate against religious minorities and atheists.
The choice of Sam Brownback as Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom is clear evidence that Donald Trump seeks to use the Office of International Religious Freedom to attack religious liberty, rather than to support it.