The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has elected a new Chair for 2005-2006, according to an announcement released by the Commission yesterday.
Michael Cromartie, who serves as Vice President of the Ethics and Public Policy Center (EPPC) in Washington, DC, will succeed Commissioner Preeta D. Bansal as Chair following the Commission's practice of alternating the post of Chair yearly between Democratic and Republican appointees. The Chair is chosen by the Commissioners themselves.
Regarding the new change, Cromartie said he was "honored by [his] election to lead such a distinguished group of Commissioners."
He also stated that USCIRF would "continue to shine a searchlight on all those countries that persecute individuals or groups for their religious beliefs."
"All persons are made in the image of God," Cromartie told the Christian Post, "and should be allowed freedom of conscience and the right to worship as they please. Countries that do not allow this and persecute their citizens for exercising this fundamental human right will be highlighted and called on to measure up to international standards."
Created by the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, the USCIRF monitors the status of freedom of though conscience, and religion or belief abroad, as defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and related international instruments, and gives independent recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State and Congress.
Prior to his election, Cromartie was directing the Evangelicals in Civic Life program and the Media and Religion program at the EPPC which was established in 1976 to clarify and reinforce the bond between the Judeo-Christian moral tradition and domestic and foreign policy issues.
He is also a Senior Advisor to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life in Washington, the host of Radio America's weekly show "Faith and Life," an adjunct professor at Reformed Theological Seminary, an advisory editor at Christianity Today, on the Board of Directors of Mars Hill Audio, and was an advisor to the PBS documentary series "With God on Our Side: The Rise of the Christian Right in America."
Cromartie holds an M.A. in Justice from the American University and a B.A. from Covenant College in Georgia, the liberal arts college of the Presbyterian Church in America.
He is also the editor of 14 books on religion and public policy, including, most recently, A Public Faith: Evangelicals and Civic Engagement, A Preserving Grace: Protestants, Catholics, and Natural Law, Caesars Coin Revisited: Christians and the Limits of Government, Creation at Risk: Religion, Science, and Environmentalism, The Nine Lives of Population Control, Disciples and Democracy: Religious Conservatives and the Future of American Politics, Might and Right After the Cold War, No Longer Exiles: The Religious Right in American Politics, Piety and Politics: Evangelicals and Fundamentalists Confront the World, Peace Betrayed: Essays on Pacifism and Politics, and Evangelicals and Foreign Policy.