Clinton swears in new ambassador for religious freedom
June 2nd, 2011
10:18 PM ET

Clinton swears in new ambassador for religious freedom

By Jamie Crawford, CNN National Security Producer

Washington (CNN)– Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hailed a "leader in bridging faith and public service" Thursday as she swore in Dr. Suzan Johnson Cook as ambassador at-large for international religious freedom.

In her role, Cook will serve as a principal adviser on religious freedom to President Barack Obama and Clinton, as well as head the Office of International Religious Freedom in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor at the State Department.

The office seeks to shine a light on everything from authoritarian regimes that impede freedom of worship for their citizens to violent extremists who work to exploit sectarian tensions.

"The Obama administration is dedicated to the rights of all people everywhere. Everyone, no matter his or her religion, should be allowed to practice their beliefs freely and safely," Clinton said before administering the oath to Cook at a ceremony in the Benjamin Franklin Room at the State Department.

Cook, a Baptist minister from New York, is the founder and president of the Wisdom Women Worldwide Center.

She has spoken and led delegations throughout the United States, Africa and the Caribbean, in addition to being a founder and board member of a youth enrichment program in New York.

In addition to serving as chaplain to the New York Police Department, Cook also served as an adviser on the Domestic Policy Council, and the President's Initiative on Race during the Clinton administration.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Church and state • DC • Foreign policy • Hillary Clinton • Politics • United States

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soundoff (77 Responses)
  1. James Black


    June 3, 2011 at 8:00 pm |
    • Muneef

      Thought there were words but found fine cool comforting music....just wonder if the beauty of this creature go waste since if I was a fashion designer I would make textiles and dresses in the same form of design and colors of this beauty....thanks

      June 4, 2011 at 6:56 am |
  2. Muneef

    Can we complain those American atheists to this new ambassador for attacking believers on religious faith blogs? πŸ˜‰

    June 3, 2011 at 7:43 pm |
    • Evolved DNA

      Muneef... how come disagreeing with a religious person is considered attacking.. you have provided no answers to the questions we ask to prove your points, but that is not our problem.

      June 5, 2011 at 7:13 pm |
  3. John Richardson

    And who will be the Deputy Undersecretary for Fatuous Fulminations? We can't leave THAT post vacant!

    June 3, 2011 at 7:01 pm |
  4. frank

    The Soviet Union of Sodom sounds nice to me.

    June 3, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
  5. Len Karpinski

    And how much is this total waste of money being paid?

    June 3, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
  6. Cal

    As the new Ambassador once said to me back in '78, "I'm too drunk to taste this chicken."

    June 3, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
  7. RightturnClyde

    There is and election coming up so this is part of the thee act farce. Obummer has to appear to tolerate white Christians (like the ones he didn't like in Pennsylvania) and even Moslems who have cells all over the U.S. and the atheists who have become a religion .. and they are calling the GM bailout and instance of creating jobs (ha! .. a payoff to the UAW with our money). The bailout itself was a massive flop. (just throw money out a window). The BP oil spill was a flop, the border situation is a flop (sued Arizona .. big border problems in Texas) .. they need to put on a three-act play to make it appear like they had a success .. in reality it is a disaster. (but the media likes Obummer anyway)

    June 3, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
    • Evolved DNA

      Richtturnclyde.. atheists have become a religion??? explain that comment please..

      June 3, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
    • Tsuruka

      You should change your name to ReichTurnChlamydia. πŸ™‚

      June 3, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
    • Lacking Evidence since 14 Billion BCE

      Sure, it's been said before but is worth saying again. Atheism is a religion as much as not collecting stamps is a hobby.

      A-Theism. Meaning NOT Theism.

      June 3, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
    • RightturnClyde

      Well that is correct .. it is like NOT collecting stamps can be a belief. So many atheists have attached themselves to that metaphor and made it a god. That is what they believe and are willing expend money and sweat for and to engage others and do battle .. expensive court cases (law suits) .. oh yes it is a religion. It has it's rites and its martyrs and heros and a core belief. It is a religion. By the way ..a religion (its members) does not necessarily believe in God. That is a "faith." No a religion is a set of behaviors around a core value of some kind (often a mortgage) .. or "the mass" or dunking in a creeks .. or holding snakes .. or singing special songs .. or "end times" as you recently witnessed. None of that requires God to exist. Most of it does not. Religions are built around buffalo dances, salmon runs, game migration. Whomever did Stonehenge did it before Jesus was on earth - the effigy mounds, Mayan Pyramids, Aztec pyramids, Chinese pyramids .. ziggurats, mounds, cave drawings .. rites of passage ... atheism. It is all religion. God: there are all kinds of gods .. that is a different story.

      June 5, 2011 at 12:38 am |
    • Evolved DNA

      Rightturnclyde.. Atheism has rites.. what would they be? according to your definition of religion then every thing is a religion.. lawyers, doctors,.hairdressers, doggroomers.. they a\ll believe in what they are doing.. I don't think you understand that atheism is. I see no evidence for your, or any other god.. if you can show me I will believe what you believe.. I have no belief at this time. and we do not get any tax breaks given to religions..no dogma to believe.. you have to follow certain rules within your religious group or else you are not wanted as part of it..its group think. I have no idea what other atheist think about abortion or do i care..its not part of anything..

      June 5, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
  8. Rainer Braendlein/Germany

    The US administration will protect freedom of belief. I appreciate. I am a Protestant. I am happy to live in Germany, which is kindly protected by the USA. I suppose without US-protection we would be under communist or Islamic rule. I hope and pray the USA will overcome the financial crisis in order to be able to maintain their military.

    I blieve democracy has its roots in Christian love (it may be historical or not). A Christian will never hate, kill or harm his neighbour because of is different belief. He may tell him the gospel of Jesus Christ, and when he rejects the message, the Christian will not become furious. If my neighbour wants to remain Buddhist, who cares? I will keep on loving him and maybe any time or never he will change his opinion.

    "A fanatical Christian should have a fanatical love for all people. That is the fanatical interpretation of the Bible."

    I see one problem. Some people could have the idea, "freedom of belief" means that for example the Christian Church is not allowed to preach the gospel. That is a complete nonsense. Do I harm my neighbour, when I tell him the gospel friendly and kindly and politely? Never. I just tell him my opinion. That is freedom of expression.

    I love Muslim people. I do not love the Koran. It must be allowed that I say this. In sura 9: 29 and sura 9: 30 Muhammad commands the Muslim people to fight against Christian and Jews (people of the Scripture). This we must keep in mind. We should not be naive. The Koran and Muhammad are not democratic. Go the Teheran, preach the gospel publically and you will feel reality.

    I will love my Muslim neighbours, but I would not be enthusiastic about, when they start to govern my home country. In that case, I would emigrate.


    June 3, 2011 at 11:34 am |
    • Fordham Jock

      "(it may be historical or not)" It's not.

      " A Christian will never hate, kill or harm his neighbor because of is different belief." They did and do, all the time.
      "the Christian will not become furious." Oh yeah, look at Adelina.

      "Do I harm my neighbor, when I tell him the gospel friendly and kindly and politely?" Not if you asked him if he wants to listen to that stuff, and not foist it on him in public venues.

      "The Koran and Muhammad are not democratic." Right, and you think the Xtians are ?

      "Go the Teheran, preach the gospel publicly and you will feel reality." Go to St. Peter's Square and preach the Koran, and see what happens.

      "I will love my Muslim neighbors, but I would not be enthusiastic about, when they start to govern my home country. In that case, I would emigrate." Who cares who governs, if there are laws in place to protect you and ensure they are enforced.

      June 3, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
    • Lacking Evidence since 14 Billion BCE

      Are you saying Xians aren't democratic? Don't forget that the bible was compiled democratically, though most of the few hundred books were voted out.

      June 3, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
  9. JJ in CT

    Hopefully the new Ambassador will keep in line with separation of church and state.

    Freedom of and from religion.

    Freedom of religion: practice and believe as you wish. Freedom from religion: practice and beleiive as you wish, as long as it doesn't infringe on others rights and beliefs.

    June 3, 2011 at 10:45 am |
  10. JohnR

    The only sort of person for the job would be someone who is staunchly secular. That doesn't exclude believers. Secularism is not the same as atheism or even agnosticism. But anyone who isn't secular is part of the very problem this office is supposed to help alleviate. I really don't know whether the person appointed fills the bill or not. I guess we'll find out.

    June 3, 2011 at 9:22 am |
    • Quantum Gravitational Fluctuation

      Hi JR,
      If you have access to the New Yorker, I was thinking you might be interested in a May article, about an English physicist who thinks if he can get his quantum computer to work, it may provide some evidence for the "many worlds" hypothesis. The t'itle is the "Dream Machine" and the address is :
      Hope you behaved.

      June 3, 2011 at 11:00 am |
    • JohnR

      Thanks for the cite! I'll check it out! I picked up The Grand Design and am almost done. It's fun to be thinking again. And I've behaved quite well by my standards in THIS possible world, anyway!

      Glad to have you back! Hope all is well!

      June 3, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
    • Peace2All


      Hey -John...

      I'm curious as to what you thought of the book...?


      June 3, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • Quantum Gravitational Fluctuation

      I heard this AM there is a North American group that may have a very small operational version of the English quantum computer. Very exciting.

      June 3, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
    • JohnR

      Peace2All – I haven't finished the book. So I can't give even a preliminary view of the whole thing just yet. But I do recommend it all the same. That is, even if I end up thinking that the "punch line" falls flat, it is a well written primer into a lot of state of the art science from a "what it all means" perspective. It is not exactly LIGHT reading, but it is also not horribly technical. (I also picked up a copy of Hawking and Penrose's Spacetime, which is much more technical, though also not to be confused with an actual technical treatise in a physics journal, which I wouldn't even touch at this point.) In any event, The Grand Design argues fairly energetically for the origin of the universe as a quantum event that is predictable in the sense that given certain assumptions, making the universe is just the quantum thing to do, so to speak! I find will ALL such works that it's best to read with "suspension of disbelief" mindset. If you insist on fighting and quibbling, you'll exhaust yourself and convince no one, least of all the authors, even in the highly unlikely event that they ever hear of you. On the other hand, I don't do the "credulous camp follower" thing and I feel it's best one doesn't. After all, not too many years ago, it was all the rage amongst the quantum cool people to claim that specifically human conscious somehow determines everything in the universe. While there are still some wild and woolly things in the Hawking account, including a sort of reverse time determinism in certain cases and some observer issues, the old Bohr – Schroedinger views (let alone the mystical popularizations thereof) are not only not endorsed but really aren't even mentioned (unless they will be in later chapters) in this work. So what's all the rage today may very well not be in ten or twenty, let alone a hundred years, even if Hawking feels we are really, really close to an ultimate account. But one thing that I am actually enthusiastic about is the idea that in the initial conditions, there was no time, but a fourth "big" spacial dimension (there are six more "small" ones) that turned into time. That's just too cool not to love, eh? πŸ˜€

      More later, no doubt!

      June 3, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
    • JohnR

      Whoops! There are in the current model, SEVEN "small" (actually, tightly "curled") spatial dimensions, three big ones and time. An earlier model had six small ones. In the account of the origins of the universe that Hawkings endorses, there were originally four big ones, one of which became time.

      Which raises the following fundamental question: If you are like me and are big in three dimensions but are also getting old, would it be better to acquire a fourth possibly large dimension and not get older or should one just go ahead and age away? Until THIS question is answered in to my satisfaction, I can't fully commit to ANY quantum cosmological model ...

      June 3, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
    • Peace2All


      Yep... I loved the book, and had a similar take as you.

      It is very cool stuff...! πŸ˜€

      Peace brother...

      June 3, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
    • Peace2All


      You Said: "Which raises the following fundamental question: If you are like me and are big in three dimensions but are also getting old, would it be better to acquire a fourth possibly large dimension and not get older or should one just go ahead and age away? Until THIS question is answered in to my satisfaction, I can't fully commit to ANY quantum cosmological model ..."

      Hmmm... Good question. LOL !!! When you say 'acquire' what do you mean...? I would want to take 'a test drive' in this so-called 4th D. before I committed. See what the cost/benefits are, yes...? Depends on if you want to stay the way you are, or possibly live forever, yes...?

      I'll have to think on that one...



      June 3, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
    • JohnR

      @Peace! A test drive sounds like a good idea! Maybe QGF's quantum computer buddies can open up a show room? πŸ˜€

      June 3, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
    • Peace2All


      Yep... Good idea ! However, trying to nail down -QGF is difficult, because he just keeps 'popping in and out' if ya' know what I mean...! LOL ! πŸ˜€

      "Quantum Computers"... Hard to even wrap my mind around it. I'm looking forward to hearing more about it !!

      Exciting times in the world of Quantum Physics !!!

      Regards brother,


      June 3, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
    • John Richardson

      Yeah, QGF does seem to pop into and out of existence in a way quite reminiscent of some of those subatomic little thingies he studies! But I was also thinking that, since it is clearly a lot more fun talking about Life, the Universe and Everything with at least certain segments of the particle physics community than it is with pretty much any of the intellectual desert dwellers of traditional religions, I was thinking that a chain of Quantum Cafe coffee shops would be in order. But then I thought that for those who prefer the more imposingly mind sobering sort of architecture that both religion and old school academics have long preferred, perhaps a network of Mesonic Temples could be the next great thing!

      June 3, 2011 at 6:08 pm |
    • Peace2All


      "I was thinking that a chain of Quantum Cafe coffee shops would be in order. But then I thought that for those who prefer the more imposingly mind sobering sort of architecture that both religion and old school academics have long preferred, perhaps a network of Mesonic Temples could be the next great thing!"

      Absolutely fantabulous ideas, John ! I'm still thinkin' that we could create 'quantum buildings'... instead of 'Masonic Temples'... and name them... ("Higgs Boson-ic") Temples ! What do ya' think...? πŸ˜€


      June 4, 2011 at 3:02 am |
  11. Reality

    We need to cut our debt now and cancelling the worthless position of ambassador of religious freedom is a good place to start. We don't need another bureaucrat to tell us the following:







    Please post this message to your mosque, church, or synagogue doors!!

    Added details upon request.

    June 3, 2011 at 9:07 am |
    • Lacking Evidence since 14 Billion BCE

      Amen. Preach it my brotha.

      June 3, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
  12. jesse

    Freedom from religion is here! People are scared because there is really not an invisible man in the sky to save them. The intellect of Athiests will win over stupidity and violence! We are going to win from here on out!

    June 3, 2011 at 2:37 am |
    • PraiseTheLard

      jesse wrote: "The intellect of Athiests will win over stupidity and violence! "

      You're naively optimistic... Throughout history, the Powers That Be have always used the stupid and the violent to further their goals and maintain their position. Nothing much will change... There are too many fools willing to believe in fairy tales...

      June 3, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
  13. Adelina

    Way too late, Mrs. Clinton. Your term is almost over. Why now? The real election strategy. She really doesn't care about persecuted people.

    June 3, 2011 at 12:56 am |
    • tallulah13

      She was appointed as Secretary of State. It's not an office to which you get elected. Also, last I heard, she wasn't interested in a second term.

      June 3, 2011 at 1:25 am |
    • Adelina

      @Tall-, We about Republicans or Democrats as a whole regarding election. She has a duty for her Democrats.

      June 3, 2011 at 1:27 am |
  14. Ron

    I'm glad it isn't a conservative Baptist. As everyone knows, because of their religious beliefs, they know everything.
    Besides and more importantly, she will be willing to work for equality for all religions rather than just her own.

    June 2, 2011 at 11:19 pm |
  15. Adelina

    Women are lenient on criminals. Hope for the best. They should have sweared in a concervative Baptist. Liberals can't change...

    June 2, 2011 at 11:14 pm |
    • tallulah13

      I don't know that women are lenient on criminals, but you certainly are very free-handed with ignorant generalizations. Also, your phrasing is not at all like that of the person who used to post here as Adelina. I suspect that you are a different person, or a different personality.

      June 3, 2011 at 1:28 am |
    • aviva1964

      Adelina .... Hillary Clinton is most definitely NOT a liberal. Democrat yes, liberal, no.

      June 3, 2011 at 6:06 am |
    • Adelina

      Aviva, that's your opinion. Liberals who try to maintain neutrality on morality are immoral therefore they are liberals. Period.

      June 3, 2011 at 6:56 am |
    • Adelina

      @Tallulah13, tell me whether you are a Muslim or not. I don't have any clear memory about you since you didn't post anything memorable. Even if you are a Muslim, you need Jesus; your goodness never overweighs your evil.

      June 3, 2011 at 6:59 am |
    • Bucky Ball

      "your goodness never overweighs your evil"
      You need to print that out and "take it with you". When you get "up" to "St. Pete's", you can just hand over a copy of it, and tell them that you paid for the prejudgement option.

      June 3, 2011 at 7:12 am |
    • Adelina

      @Bucky, it's true for all humans. Universal. No personal offense here.

      June 3, 2011 at 7:17 am |
    • tallulah13

      Honestly, when the person Adelina started posting, she was arrogant, opinionated and ignorant but rather naive. Now the arrogance, opinions and ignorance are accompanied by aggressiveness. If you are indeed the same person, you have changed quite a bit.

      You probably don't remember me because I'm not here half as much as you. I don't mind that I'm not memorable. I'm just here to state my opinion and to learn the mindset of my fellow humans. I must admit that humans can be very scary.

      June 3, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
    • Adelina

      tallulah13 I do not remember you for a reason. It is because your opinion does not matter.

      June 3, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
    • Frogist

      @tallulah: Just wanted to say, I'm always pleased to hear what you have to say. Rest assured, your opinion, like the opinions of all people, matter.

      June 3, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Feel free to insult me. I'm fine with that. I find you to be so proud of your ignorance that it's actually a bizarre compliment that you reject my opinion so completely. I must be saying something that bothers you, otherwise you wouldn't feel the need to respond at all.

      However, I will continue to comment as I see fit, as is my right on this public forum. And I still believe you are a troll, whether you are the original Adelina or not.

      June 3, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Thank you Frogist. I enjoy your contributions as well.

      My main reason for coming to comment boards like this is to get an understanding of my fellow humans. I have learned quite a bit, much of it unpleasant, but all of it, I believe, fairly true, since we are free to say what we think when we are protected by our anonymity.

      Above all things, I believe in truth, and it bothers me when people simply believe what they are told and make no effort to find answers for themselves. That's why Adelina bothers me so much.

      June 3, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
  16. Evolved DNA

    It should be a freedom from religion ambassador.

    June 2, 2011 at 10:50 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Evolved DNA

      Or Ambassador to Fairy Tales!


      June 3, 2011 at 1:56 am |
  17. An Atheist’s Perspective

    Normally I attempt to stay upbeat and say something positive but eh...
    (*goes to check back on that "Mormon president" post*)

    Best of luck Dr. Cook. You're going to need it.

    June 2, 2011 at 10:44 pm |
  18. BG

    http://www.drsujay.com/ Of course. Why am I not surprised?

    All atheists could benefit from being in a "Destiny Circle." Hell, some of you guys might even be better off as "Women of Destiny."

    June 2, 2011 at 10:41 pm |
    • Peace2All

      Oh my god, -BG... did ya' have to post that 'link.'...? I 'bit' and went to her web-site to find out about Dr. Sujay and her Destiny Circles.

      Which, in the beginning she already claims that God, has already 'pre-determined' everyones lives. 😯

      (*breathing heavily into a paper bag now*)

      So, what's up -BG...? Hope things are well.

      Catch ya' on the flip !


      June 3, 2011 at 1:39 am |
    • JJ in CT

      How much does it cost? Does it come with a free prayer rag?

      June 3, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
  19. frank

    Oh dear.

    June 2, 2011 at 10:38 pm |
  20. Wait a second

    Will this person be able to address the ever-present problem of religious beliefs that harm others? Where are the lines being drawn? Physical violence only?
    And a baptist minister! How is that in line with religious freedom at all? Baptists are one of the nastiest cults in the South!

    June 2, 2011 at 10:36 pm |
    • Adelina (the real one)

      You are clearly clueless and I woudl venture to say going to hell.

      June 3, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
    • Lacking Evidence since 14 Billion BCE

      Which hell would that be?

      June 3, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
    • John Steele

      The one in your parent's basement where you have your computer lair, complete with the leaking hot water heater, 40 watt light bulbs and the mildewed rug where your dog goes because you're too lazy to take it out.

      June 3, 2011 at 9:44 pm |
    • gerald

      Wait, he's got a dog AND light bulbs? Livin' pretty high on the hog, ain'tcha ? We'd better take them things away ASAP!

      June 4, 2011 at 7:33 pm |
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About this blog

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.