Rubio Requests Biden Assign Religious Freedom Special Advisor in National Security Council

Rubio Requests Biden Assign Religious Freedom Special Advisor in National Security Council

Mateo Guillamont
Mateo Guillamont
|
May 7, 2024

US Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) sent a letter to President Joe Biden requesting the latter exercise his 1998 International Religious Freedom Act powers to appoint a Special Advisor on International Religious Freedom.

According to Senator Rubio, the international deterioration of religious freedom demands the US, being committed to protecting the free exercise of religion, take a proactive role in protecting such freedom globally.

The International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 granted the President the authority to appoint a Special Advisor on International Religious Freedom within the National Security Council.

In relevant part, the act reads “there should be within the staff of the National Security Council a Special Adviser to the President on International Religious Freedom, serving as a resource for executive branch officials, compiling information on the facts and circumstances of violations of religious freedom, and making policy recommendations.”

However, the position has been vacant for years with neither former President Donald Trump nor current President Biden appointing special advisors on religious freedom.

Rubio claimed vicissitudes such as the religious persecution of Tibetans, Falun Gong, and Uyghurs by Communist China, the repression of Christians in Nicaragua, Cuba, and North Korea, and that of the Baha’i in Iran all merit a US response.

“Appointing a qualified and experienced Special Advisor on International Religious Freedom within the National Security Council is critical not only to underscore our nation’s dedication to this fundamental human right but also to enhance our national security by helping to address one of the main causes of conflict and instability,” reads the letter.

If appointed, the Religious Freedom Advisor would cooperate with the Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom to advise the President on global religious freedom policy.

The latter was formed by the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act and recently recommended increased sanctions on Iran for its harsh enforcement of Mandatory Hijab laws.

“Iranian authorities callously violate women’s religious freedom and targets any individual advocating for freedom of religion or belief,” said Commissioner Susie Gelman. “USCIRF urges additional sanctions on Iranian government agencies and security officials responsible for particularly severe violations of religious freedom by freezing their assets and barring their entry into the United States.”

Biden has yet to respond to such recommendations.

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Mateo Guillamont

Mateo Guillamont

Mateo is a Miami-based political reporter covering national and local politics

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