Nontheists Call Brownback Unfit to Advocate for Religious Freedom Abroad

Washington, DC — The Secular Coalition for America released the following statement today in response to President Trump nominating Kansas Governor Sam Brownback to serve as the ambassador at large for international religious freedom. If confirmed, Mr. Brownback would head the State Department’s Office of International Religious Freedom, the mission of which is to “monitor religious persecution and discrimination worldwide, recommend and implement policies in respective regions or countries, and develop programs to promote religious freedom.”

“Nominating Sam Brownback to head the Office of International Religious Freedom shows that the Trump Administration has no serious interest in protecting religious minorities and nontheists abroad,” said Larry T. Decker, Executive Director of the Secular Coalition for America. “Throughout his political career, Brownback has used elected office as a means to impose his religious beliefs on others. His willingness to write his own religious beliefs into law is antithetical to the spirit of the office for which he has been nominated. As a secular nation, the United States should strive to set the example for other countries and serve as a beacon of hope to all those persecuted for their faith or lack thereof. The nomination of Sam Brownback sends the message that President Trump is willing to trade America’s place in the world for political points with the religious right.”

During his tenure in Congress, Brownback repeatedly sponsored anti-LGBT legislation and helped introduce the Senate Version of the Federal Marriage Amendment, which would have banned same-sex marriage nationwide. As Governor of Kansas, Brownback championed a 2012 “religious freedom” bill that would have allowed for sweeping religiously-based discrimination against nontheists, religious minorities, and LGBT individuals.

In 2011, Brownback was the only other sitting lawmaker to attend a prayer rally held by then Texas Governor Rick Perry. In 2012, he issued a proclamation calling on the people of Kansas to “collectively repent for distancing ourselves from God and ask for His mercy on us.”

“Across the globe, nontheists and religious minorities continue to face persecution and even the threat of death simply for their religious opinions,” said Decker. “With the lives of nontheists and other religious minorities on the line, we need an ambassador who will be bold in confronting these injustices. Given his record of promoting religious privilege and disregard for the concerns of religious minorities in the United States, Mr. Brownback is unfit for this position.”

Contact: Casey Brescia

Communications Associate and Spokesman

[email protected], (845)-380-6201


The Secular Coalition for America is the nation’s premier advocacy organization representing atheists, humanists, agnostics, and other nontheists. Its mission is to increase the visibility of and respect for nontheistic viewpoints in the United States, and to protect and strengthen the secular character of our government as the best guarantee of freedom for all. The Secular Coalition represents 18 voting member organizations.