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ERLC’s Land named to USCIRF for 4th term

WASHINGTON (BP)–Southern Baptist church-state specialist Richard Land has been appointed to a fourth term on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky reappointed the president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission to a two-year term on the nine-person panel. The action was made official Oct. 22, when it appeared in the Congressional Record.

President Bush appointed Land to a two-year term in 2001, followed by a one-year term. Land was off the commission for less than a year before being renamed to USCIRF for two years in 2005 by then-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee.

USCIRF Chair Michael Cromartie said the commissioners “are delighted to continue working with” Land, whom he described as “certainly among the religious leaders most committed to advancing the freedom of religion.”

Land “has consistently brought both his formidable commitment and down-to-earth powers of persuasion to bear positively on our work as a commission,” Cromartie said in a written release.

A USCIRF vice chair, Land called the reappointment “an honor and a privilege.”

“The tremendously important work of the commission should inspire all Americans,” Land said. “The commission has taken up the cause of religious freedom and the plight of the persecuted across the globe on behalf of the American people. It is one of the most inspiring things that I’ve been privileged to do in public service.

“I also want to thank Senator McConnell for the confidence he has placed in me by using his appointive power to name me to another term on the commission. I am both grateful and humbled by the senator’s confidence and selection,” he said.

USCIRF, which is a nonpartisan panel appointed by the president and members of Congress, researches the status of religious liberty in other countries and provides reports and recommendations to the White House and legislators. The president selects three members of the commission, while congressional leaders name the other six. The State Department’s ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom serves as a non-voting member of the panel.

The commission lost its executive director Oct. 25 when Joseph Crapa, 63, died after a battle with cancer.

Land said he was honored to be a member of the search committee that recommended Crapa, a Democrat, as the commission’s director.

“As a Republican appointee, I was most happy to enthusiastically endorse and commend this faithful Democrat who loved America and loved the freedom for which it stands,” Land said in a USCIRF release. “He was a tireless proponent of religious freedom around the world and was instrumental in making the commission an extremely effective voice for religious freedom. It was an honor and a privilege to have known him and served with him. All of us who knew him will miss him.”

Crapa had served as chief of staff for two Democrats in Congress before accepting the USCIRF post in 2002. He also had worked with the U.S. Agency for International Development, Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Agriculture.