In the U.S., we have two competing definitions of religious freedom: one protects individuals from persecution on account of their faith; the other, from prosecution, when individuals discriminate in defense of their faith. When you consider the Muslim Ban, an increase in religious-based hate crimes, and the recent appointment of Tony Perkins and Gary Bauer to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), it seems the latter definition has “trumped” the former. About Perkins and Bauer: both men have led the Family Research Council, an SPLC-designated hate group, and have spent their careers advocating against the constitutional rights of LGBTQ people and religious minorities, including American Muslims. Despite their legacies of anti-LGBTQ and anti-Muslim activism, Perkins and Bauer will now be charged with defending the universal right to freedom of religion around the world. It is worth questioning whether their intolerant ideologies will undermine the work of USCIRF, seeing as they contradict the ideals of the Commission itself. But then again, our current Ambassador-at-Large to International Religious Freedom, Sam Brownback, is not that much better on some of these same issues. The former Kansas governor has a disastrous record on LGBTQ rights and championed anti-Muslim legislation. Under the Trump Administration, Perkins and Bauer fit the part.

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