Secretary Clinton praises religious freedom ambassador nominee


Earlier this week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised the nomination of Dr. Suzan Johnson Cook for the position of Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom.

Though Secretary Clinton lauded the nominee's “impressive record of public service,” some critics are concerned that Dr. Johnson Cook has no experience in international affairs. One critic added that “there is very little grace” for on the job training “when it comes to international diplomacy.”

Dr. Johnson Cook is the current pastor of Bronx Christian Fellowship Baptist Church in New York City  and founder of the Worldwide Wisdom Center. She also served as an advisor on President Clinton’s Domestic Policy Council and Chaplain to the New York Police Department.

“I welcome the nomination of Dr. Suzan Johnson Cook to be Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom,” wrote Clinton on Tuesday. “Dr. Johnson Cook is an experienced religious leader with a passion for human rights and an impressive record of public service.”

“President Obama could not have found a more fitting choice for this important position,” the Secretary of State added. “I look forward to working with Dr. Johnson Cook, if she is confirmed, to bring greater focus to international efforts to ensure that people everywhere enjoy the global standards of religious freedom enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”

The Washington Post reported that although the general consensus on the nominee is positive, there is concern among some that she lacks expertise in international affairs, specifically human rights work.

“There is very little grace allowed for OJT (on-the-job training) when it comes to international diplomacy,” Robert Seiple, former World Vision president and the first person to serve as religious freedom ambassador, told the Post.

Thomas Farr, a former diplomat who directed the office Cook will hold, weighed in on the issue as well Tuesday, saying that if “the Obama administration were taking this issue seriously, it would choose an expert in international religious freedom with experience in foreign affairs.”

“It would choose a proven leader who can change things at the State Department and re-energize our flagging (international religious freedom) policy,” Farr added. “Perhaps Rev. Cook will surprise the skeptics and prove to be that leader. I hope so, and will certainly do everything I can to help her.”

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