President George W. Bush completed his human rights team yesterday with the nomination of John V. Hanford III to be the U.S. Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom.

Hanford is an influential foreign-affairs aide to Senator Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) and a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.

The ambassador works with American embassies to obtain reports of religious persecution and recommends policies to the Secretary of State for an annual report to the President on the promotion of religious freedom abroad. This year's report will be released shortly.

Last week the President nominated three members to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. In June he filled human-rights positions in the State Department and on the National Security Council. The presidential appointments to the commission are Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention, Catholic Bishop William F. Murphy of New York, and foreign affairs scholar Shirin Raziuddin Tahir-Kheli.

Late this summer White House staffers indicated that the President was planning to increase his emphasis on issues of international religious freedom and persecution (ct, Oct. 1, p. 23). Bush said in May that his administration would advocate "a moral sense, based upon the deep American commitment to freedom of religion," that countries must respect the rights of believers of all faiths.

The U.S. ambassadorship on religious liberty has been vacant since the resignation of Robert A. Seiple, formerly of World Vision, a year ago.

The White House says that Hanford was the lead architect of the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act. Hanford forged a compromise between human-rights advocates, who favored public shaming and threats of trade cutoffs, ...

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