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Not Everyone Happy with Religious Ambassador Pick


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President Barack Obama's decision to nominate Rabbi David Saperstein to the post of Ambassador for International Religious Freedom is drawing mixed reactions.

Saperstein has spent his career in Washington focusing on social justice and religious freedom issues as an activist in the liberal reform branch of Judaism.

Some religious freedom advocates are applauding Obama's choice.

"(Saperstein) will be a strong advocate and voice for religious freedom around the world," National Association of Evangelicals President Leith Anderson said.

But not everyone is pleased, particularly in light of Saperstein's criticism of the Supreme Court's recent Hobby Lobby decision. The ruling allowed some companies to opt-out of paying for contraception under Obamacare for religious reasons.

"Saperstein favors fining family business owners for their religious beliefs and forcing Americans into complicity with abortion," the Catholic Association said in a statement.

Isaac Six, director of advocacy for the religious freedom group International Christian Concern, offered his take on Saperstein as well as the Obama administration's track record on religious freedom.

The ambassador for religious freedom monitors and speaks out on religious freedom abuses worldwide. The State Department post was created by Congress in 1998.

If Saperstein is confirmed by the Senate, he will be the first non-Christian to hold the job.

The rabbi's nomination comes as the U.S. State Department releases its annual International Religious Freedom Report.

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An estimated 76 percent of the world's population live in countries where religious freedom is restricted. Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States must take a strong stand against those violations.

"Around the world repressive governments and extremists groups have been crystal clear about what they stand against, so we have to be equally clear about what we must stand for," Kerry said.

"We stand for greater freedom, for greater tolerance, greater respect, for rights of freedom of expression and freedom of conscience," he said.

What's surprising in this new report? What to make of Obama's nominee for this position? CBN News Chief International Correspondent Gary Lane explains more below:

A key development in the 2013 report is the large number of displaced members of religious communities, including entire Christian communities in Syria and Iraq that have been forced to flee their homes because of persecution.

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About The Author

Caitlin Burke Headshot

Caitlin Burke serves as National Security Correspondent and a general assignment reporter for CBN News. She has also hosted the CBN News original podcast, The Daily Rundown. Some of Caitlin’s recent stories have focused on the national security threat posed by China, America’s military strength, and vulnerabilities in the U.S. power grid. She joined CBN News in July 2010, and over the course of her career, she has had the opportunity to cover stories both domestically and abroad. Caitlin began her news career working as a production assistant in Richmond, Virginia, for the NBC affiliate WWBT