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Senate Confirms Christian Theocrat As Ambassasador at Large for International Religious Freedom

Last July, former U.S. Senator and former Governor of Kansas Sam Brownback was nominated by Donald Trump to become the US Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom. Yesterday, the Senate finally confirmed him, and in doing so, Senate Republicans also confirmed their own predilection for Orwellian doublespeak.

The vote was a tie, 49 to 49, and Vice President Mike Pence had to go to the Senate to cast the tie-breaking vote in favor of the Brownback nomination. Not a single Democrat voted to confirm Brownback. The reason for the controversy is that for his entire political career, Brownback has been a strident enemy of religious freedom in the United States.

In the US Senate, Brownback supported legislation to cripple the ability of religious minorities to gain compensation for religious discrimination practiced by local governments. He voted in favor of an amendment that would help majority religions use government funds to overwhelm minority religious groups in school settings. Senator Brownback sought to create government authority to force children across America to swear oaths to his Christian deity. He passed legislation to enable government-run schools to coerce children into participating in religious rituals. Brownback endorsed a bill that would have forced businesses to conform to the religious beliefs of their employees.

As Governor of Kansas, Sam Brownback attempted a theocratic takeover of state government, forcing all citizens to provide money and institutional support 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”. 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 a government official to enforce fundamentalist Christian beliefs about reproductive choices onto all citizens of the state of Kansas, regardless of their individual beliefs about religion. He also signed an executive order attempting to ban all marriages that did not agree with his personal religious beliefs. Then, Brownback came up with a scheme to use state prisons to coerce citizens into religious conversion. He also gave legal authority to government-sanctioned religious clubs at government-run universities, and provided special powers for these clubs to discriminate against religious minorities and atheists.

David Silverman writes, ”Governor Brownback has been no champion of true religious freedom. Instead, he has used his position and authority to promote his own religious beliefs at the expense of LGBT people, women, and atheists. He has promoted the mistaken view that religion is a ‘get out of the law, free’ card and has signed executive orders and legislation that allow discrimination against Kansans in public accommodations, government employment, and schools.”

The world needs to know this: Sam Brownback does not speak for the United States of America.

When he speaks abroad, Brownback will be speaking as nothing more than an ambassador at large for Christian theocracy.

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