In a letter sent to all members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, a nonpartisan group of 34 scholars, international relations and human rights experts, and religious leaders—including IGE’s Chris Seiple and Dennis Hoover—asserts that the Obama administration and Congress have neglected key elements of the 1998 International Religious Act (IRFA). The letter, sent on 7 March, contends that political turmoil in the Middle East, religion-based extremism, and religious intolerance are connected, and it laments that U.S. inaction in appointing an IRF Ambassador has implicitly communicated to oppressive regimes and struggling democracies alike that religious freedom is not a serious priority for American foreign policy.

The letter requests that Senators pay serious attention to the second confirmation hearing for Dr. Suzan Johnson Cook, the President’s nominee to become U.S. Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom (IRFA). The letter takes no position on Dr. Johnson Cook’s candidacy, but notes a collective disappointment at “the low attendance at Dr. Johnson Cook’s first confirmation hearing last year.” It urges Senators to attend the hearings and “to let the nominee and the administration know that IRF should be a high priority for the United States.”

Read the complete letter here.