June 16th, 2010
08:44 AM ET

Obama names religious freedom ambassador

President Barack Obama named an ambassador for international religious freedom Tuesday night, weeks after a report from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom criticized the White House for leaving the post vacant.

Obama nominated Suzan Johnson Cook, founder of a group called Wisdom Worldwide Center, as Ambassador-At-Large for International Religious Freedom, the White House said in a statement.  Cook is a Bronx, New York-based pastor and is chaplain to the New York City Police Department, according to the statement.

Obama also named two appointees to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom on Tuesday.

Both the ambassador-at-large position and the commission were established by the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act.

Obama nominated Felice Gaer, a current commission member, for another term, and named William Shaw, a past president of the National Baptist Convention and a Philadelphia-based pastor, to the commission.

The commission's annual report on religious freedom around the world, released in April, said that the lack of an ambassador for international religious freedom "leaves vacant an important policy position."

The report also expressed concern over reports that the Obama administration had downgraded the position. "Congress intended the Ambassador-at-Large to be a 'principal adviser to the President and the Secretary of State regarding matters affecting religious freedom abroad,'" the report said, "but USCIRF is concerned that the position may have been diminished within the State Department hierarchy."

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Barack Obama • Politics • Religious liberty

soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Gil T

    Religious freedom ambassador . . . hmmmm. It will be interesting to see how this one plays out.

    June 16, 2010 at 11:48 pm |
  2. Julio Ramos

    Agree – this 1st Amendment Country we supposedly live in needs someone more universally minded. But you can't have a universally minded acolyte in that post without the over 70% of this U.S. populous who are Christian, screaming that he or she is not Christian. The proverbial Catch-22 presents itself again...meanwhile we're the ones who set ourselves up for it.

    June 16, 2010 at 7:16 pm |
  3. free for all

    Why single out the myths of Christianity. What about Islam, Judaism, and every other organized religion in the world. Her burden is not a particular faith, it is the advancement of the right to practice religion in the face of intolerant secular humanists. Say it like it is.

    June 16, 2010 at 5:08 pm |
    • Reality

      The burdensome myths of Judaism:

      As per 1.5 million Conservative Jews and their rabbis, Adam and Eve, Abraham, Moses and Noah were all myths.

      June 16, 2010 at 9:13 pm |
    • Reality

      The burdensome myths of Islam:

      Mohammed was an illiterate, womanizing, lust and greed-driven, warmongering, hallucinating Arab, who also had embellishing/hallucinating/plagiarizing scribal biographers who not only added "angels" and flying chariots to the koran but also a militaristic agenda to support the plundering and looting of the lands of non-believers.

      This agenda continues as shown by the massacre in Mumbai, the assassinations of Bhutto and Theo Van Gogh, the conduct of the seven Muslim doctors in the UK, the 9/11 terrorists, the 24/7 Sunni suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the 24/7 Shiite suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the Islamic bombers of the trains in the UK and Spain, the Bali crazies, the Kenya crazies, the Pakistani “koranics”, the Palestine suicide bombers/rocketeers, the Lebanese nutcases, the Taliban nut jobs, and the Filipino “koranics”.

      And who funds this muck and stench of terror? The warmongering, Islamic, Shiite terror and torture theocracy of Iran aka the Third Axis of Evil and also the Sunni "Wannabees" of Saudi Arabia.

      Current crises:

      The Sunni-Shiite blood feud and the warmongering, womanizing (11 wives), hallucinating founder.

      June 16, 2010 at 9:15 pm |
  4. Reality

    Based on her biography, the Reverend Suzan Johnson Cook, appears to be a suitable appointee with the exception that she will be burdened with the myths of Christianity. Previously, I listed a webpage which had her biography but the comment was deleted

    June 16, 2010 at 12:34 pm |
  5. Reality

    Why do the moderators delete innocuous posts? This is such a strange blog!!!

    June 16, 2010 at 12:31 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.