Obama Nominates Cook for Religious Freedom Ambassador
President Barack Obama announced today that he plans to nominate Suzan Johnson Cook for ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom.
Religious freedom advocates had criticized Obama for not filling the position until now.
Update: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued a statement welcoming Johnson Cook as someone who serve as a principal advisor on religious freedom to Obama and Clinton.
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. 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's Michelle Boorstein floated Johnson Cook's name in January.
Meanwhile, no one is confirming the main name buzzing out there - Rev. Suzan Johnson Cook, a very prominent New York City pastor with a powerful resume, including: being past president of the conference representing all historically black denominations, developing some faith-related policy for President Clinton, former chaplain of the New York City police department, faculty member at Harvard.
Missing, say religious freedom advocates, is any work related to religious freedom or foreign policy. Not to mention that Cook's office denied she had been named to the job, but then hasn't returned my calls or e-mails when I asked whether she had even been offered it.
Johnson Cook founded Wisdom Worldwide Center and owns Charisma Speakers since 2008. Before that, she was co-Partner/Owner of Jonco Productions from 1994 to 2009. She also served as a professor at the New York Theological Seminary from 1988 to 1996.
The New York Timesprofiled her in 2002, calling her "Billy Graham and Oprah rolled into one." Johnson Cook participated in the prayer service the day after Obama's inauguration.
Obama also intends to nominate Felice D. Gaer and William J. Shaw as members to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
Gaer is director of the Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights of the American Jewish Committee. Shaw is former president of the National Baptist Convention, USA. Inc. and pastor of White Rock Baptist Church in Philadelphia.
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