United States Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom

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Ambassador at Large of the United States for International Religious Freedom
U.S. Department of State official seal.svg
Seal of the United States Department of State
Rashad hussain official photo.jpg
Rashad Hussain
since January 24, 2022
AppointerThe President
with the advice and consent of the Senate
Inaugural holderRobert A. Seiple
WebsiteOffice of International Religious Freedom

The United States Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom is the ambassador-at-large who heads the Office of International Religious Freedom in the U.S. Department of State.

The position was created by the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998. The first ambassador at large was Bob Seiple[1] who served from 1999 to 2001. He was succeeded by John Hanford[2] who served from May 2002 until January 2009. Suzan Johnson Cook served in the role from May 2011 to October 2013.[3] On July 28, 2014, President Barack Obama nominated Rabbi David Saperstein for the position. On December 15, 2014, the Senate confirmed him to the office, making him the first non-Christian to hold this post.[4][5][6]

On July 26, 2017, the White House announced the nomination of Sam Brownback, then-Governor of Kansas to fill the vacancy in the office.[7] Five months later, the Senate had yet to hold a confirmation vote, so per Senate rules, he was required to be nominated again in 2018 in order for a vote to be held.[8] He was confirmed to the position on January 24, 2018, on a 49–49 vote of the Senate, with Vice President Mike Pence breaking the tie in favor of Brownback.[9]


Image Name Appointment Left office
Robert A. Seiple 1999 2001
Ambassador-at-Large John Hanford (cropped).JPG John Hanford 2002 2009
Suzan Johnson Cook official photo.jpg Suzan Johnson Cook 2011 2013
David Saperstein 2015.jpg David Saperstein 2015 2017
Sam Brownback official photo.jpg Sam Brownback 2018 2021
Rashad-Hussain-350x490.jpg Rashad Hussain[10] 2022 incumbent


  1. ^ U.S. Department of State. "Biography Robert A Seiple." September 11, 2009.
  2. ^ U.S. Department of State. "Biography John V. Hanford III." September 11, 2009.
  3. ^ "Religious liberty ambassador's resignation raises concerns". Archived from the original on April 2, 2014.
  4. ^ Dias, Elizabeth. "Obama Nominates Rabbi to Religious Freedom Post" Archived January 17, 2015, at the Wayback Machine, Time, July 28, 2014. Retrieved July 31, 2014.
  5. ^ Campbell, Kay. "Rabbi David Saperstein confirmed as U.S. Ambassador for Religious Freedom" Archived December 19, 2014, at the Wayback Machine, AL.com, December 17, 2014. Retrieved December 19, 2014.
  6. ^ "US Senate approves rabbi as freedom of faith envoy" Archived April 3, 2015, at the Wayback Machine, The Times of Israel, December 15, 2014. Retrieved December 15, 2014.
  7. ^ @AP (July 26, 2017). "BREAKING: White House: Trump to nominate Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback as ambassador at large for international religious freedom" (Tweet). Retrieved July 27, 2017 – via Twitter.
  8. ^ Brownback’s nomination for ambassador post not carried over, will return to White House, Lawrence Journal World, December 22, 2017. Retrieved December 27, 2017.
  9. ^ "U.S. Senate: U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 115th Congress - 2nd Session". www.senate.gov. Retrieved January 24, 2018.
  10. ^ The White House (July 30, 2021). "President Biden Announces Intent to Nominate and Appoint Leaders to Serve in Key Religious Affairs Roles". The White House. Retrieved July 31, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)

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