One of the most prominent figures within Americas largest Protestant denomination was appointed to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), according to a statement released yesterday.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist appointed Dr. Richard D. Land of the Southern Baptist Convention to the Commission, replacing Commissioner Michael K. Young, who has served on the Commission since its inception in 1999.
Created by the International Religious Freedom Act of 1988, the USCIRF monitors the status of freedom of thought, conscience, and religion or belief abroad, as defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and related international instruments. The Commission also gives independent policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State and the Congress.
"I am delighted that Senator Frist has appointed Dr. Land, who in the past has served on this Commission as a Presidential, said Commission Chair Michael Cromartie. The experience, knowledge, and perspective he brings will greatly enhance the work of our Commission. He has been an important asset to the USCIRF in the past and we enthusiastically welcome his return.
According to the USCIRF, the Commission consists of nine voting Commissioners and the Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, who is a non-voting member. Three Commissioners are selected by the President, two by the leaders of the President's party in Congress, and four by the congressional leaders of the other party.
In September 2001, Land was appointed by President George W. Bush to serve as a Commissioner on the USCIRF. In August 2003, Land was reappointed by the president for an additional term on the Commission, marking the first time a president had reappointed a Commissioner to the panel for a second term.
During his time with the Commission, Land reportedly had tremendous influence in working with China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, North Korea and with Europe.
He takes on the big issues, USCIRF Executive Director Joseph R. Crapa told Baptist Press after Land concluded his final term last year. Hes not afraid to confront and speak out and just keep persistently pushing the issue or condemning an action or saying what needs to be said publicly and privately.
He brings his own faith and passion and, along with that, tremendous knowledge of the issues, a real knowledge of how the world works and how to deal with it, he added.
After serving three years as a Bush appointee, Land concluded his service on the Commission on Sept. 20, 2004 - the date Bush named Cromartie to succeed Land.
In addition to his years with the USCIRF, Land has served as president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission since 1988. During his tenure as spokesman on Capitol Hill for the largest Protestant denomination in the country, Land has represented Southern Baptists' interests in Congress, before U.S. Presidents, and in the major media.
Earlier this year, Land was featured in Time magazine as one of "The Twenty-five Most Influential Evangelicals in America" and last year, Land was recognized by the National Journal as one of the 10 top church-state experts "politicians will call on when they get serious about addressing an important public policy issue."
Land currently hosts two nationally syndicated radio programs, For Faith & Family and For Faith & Family's Insight. The For Faith & Family Broadcast Ministry is heard by more than 1.5 million listeners each week on over 600 radio stations across the country and throughout the world on the Internet.
Lands latest radio initiative, Richard Land Live!, is syndicated on the Salem Radio Network. He also recently authored Imagine! A God-Blessed America, and Real Homeland Security: The America God Will Bless, and is Executive Editor of Faith & Family Values, a national magazine.