July 28, 2014 | Silver Spring, Maryland, United States | ANN staff

Seventh-day Adventist leaders said they applauded the announcement of a nominee for a religious freedom advocacy position at the U.S. Department of State, a post that has been vacant since October.

The White House today announced that Rabbi David Nathan Saperstein would be nominated to serve as Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom. Saperstein was the first chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, beginning in 1999, and the director and counsel of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, where he has served since 1974. He is also an adjunct professor of law at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C.

The Adventist Church's legislative affairs director, Dwayne Leslie, said he welcomed the announcement, saying the post is a key position for monitoring religious freedom persecution and discrimination worldwide.

"We're glad the State Department will again have leadership to help address religious freedom abuses that are happening throughout the world on a daily basis," Leslie said. "Rabbi Saperstein is someone who brings a wealth of experience to the table, and we've worked with him over the years on a number of religious liberty issues."

The Adventist Church advocates for religious freedom and is a key sponsor of theInternational Religious Liberty Association, a non-sectarian organization. In 2009, the Adventist Church and the IRLA presented Saperstein the National Award at their annual Religious Liberty Dinner in Washington, D.C.

Saperstein would succeed Suzan Johnson Cook, who resigned last year. His appointment hinges on confirmation by the U.S. Senate. The job was created by Congress in 1998.


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