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Bush chooses ambassador for religious freedom

WASHINGTON (BP)–President Bush has nominated a Capitol Hill veteran on overseas religious liberty issues to be ambassador at large for international religious freedom.

The president named John Hanford as his choice Sept. 26. Hanford has served since 1987 as a congressional fellow in international religious freedom in the office of Sen. Richard Lugar, R.-Ind. He was an architect of the International Religious Freedom Act, the 1998 law that established the ambassador’s position and the Commission on International Religious Freedom.

If confirmed by the Senate, Hanford will replace Robert Seiple, who resigned a year ago.

The ambassador at large serves as a nonvoting member of the commission. The nine-member panel researches religious liberty issues in other countries and makes recommendations to the White House and Congress.

The choice of Hanford was announced nine days after Bush appointed Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, and two others to the commission. The other six members of the panel are chosen by congressional leaders.

Hanford has degrees from the University of North Carolina and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Mass.

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