Conflicts between family members, communities and nations persist because we don’t know each other, and whatever we know about the other are myths uploaded by parents, teachers, clergy, friends and the media. Instead of clarifying and learning about the other, we tend to pile up more myths and create an unbridgeable chasm each time.
God loves us all and says, the best ones among us are those who take the time to learn about each other. Indeed, knowledge leads to understanding, and understanding to acceptance of a different point of view, with that conflicts fade, and solutions emerge.
A reception was held in his honor and I went with an open mind to hear him. He has an opportunity to play one of the most critical roles in the world of religious freedom. The Ambassador has the potential to shape the economic prosperity of nations through liberty. He believes that when people are free, their energies get invested in creating happier and prosperous societies. The capitalists will have an incentive to invest in those societies where their investments are safe and the public is treated with dignity.
I have noted some of the critical points of his speeches and conversations, each time I have listened to him.
Ambassador Brownback made the following statement (paraphrased), that gave me immense hope and confidence about the future of religious freedom around the world.
“Governor Sam Brownback, the newly appointed Ambassador for religious freedom, said it right. If you want a nation to have peace, give the people their freedom, but if you push those to the corner, their anger will morph into extremism, and everyone will lose in the end. “
The Ambassador has scored several points with me. It was a timely comment on his part for individuals to defend the rights of people other than the people of their own faith. He made that observation after listening to Hindus talking about Hindu issues, Muslims were speaking about Muslim issues, and Christians were talking about Christian topics, and same went with the Jews and others. Before I could comment, he said it. I hope we all fight for the rights of people of others faiths than our own! What a relief!
Thank God there are more and more people standing up for the rights of others. Greg Mitchell is doing this for all others, and I am blessed to have stood up for the rights of everyone from Atheists to Zoroastrians including LGBTQ and Native American communities. God willing the book, “Standing up for others” will be out by July. Ref: https://centerforpluralism.com/international-religious-freedom-with-ambassador-brownback-march-8-2018/
There was a good discussion about civil dialogue. I am glad I met him twice before and am familiar with his stance, so I vigorously defended him in a religious liberty group. He is Evangelical no doubt, but he is for the religious freedom of all people. We must rid of our own biases before we ask others. https://centerforpluralism.com/religious-liberty-committee-at-newseum-march-5-2018/
I am pleased to dedicate the following write on Civil Dialogue to two individuals – Pastor Bob Roberts and Ambassador-at-large Sam Brownback for their bold take on respecting the otherness of others. Both of them could not be more clear – they said, they love Jesus, and they are Evangelical/Conservative Christians respectively, but when it comes to other humans, they will stand up for the freedom of all humans without any reserve. I salute you two; you will change how conservatives will be looked up in the world. Thank you. I have dedicated an article on “How to conduct a civil dialogue” at https://centerforpluralism.com/quran-and-civil-dialogue/
“The Ambassador has a clear mission – Religious freedom! Today he mentioned about tying religious freedom with economic prosperity.” He will go down in the history books as someone who has made a difference and stood up for religious freedom of all humanity.
About Ambassador Sam Brownback.
Samuel Dale Brownback (born September 12, 1956) is an American lawyer, politician, diplomat and the current United States Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom. Brownback previously served as the 46th Governor of Kansas, as a U.S. Senator from Kansas, as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, and as the Secretary of Agriculture of Kansas. A member of the Republican Party, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives during the Republican Revolution of 1994, representing Kansas’s 2nd congressional district for a single term, before running in a 1996 special election for the U.S. Senate seat previously held by Bob Dole. He won the special election and the following two regular elections, serving until 2011. Brownback was elected Governor of Kansas and served from 2011 until his resignation in 2018 to take a job in the Trump Administration. He ran for president in 2008, but withdrew before the primaries began and endorsed eventual Republican nominee John McCain.
Brownback was elected Governor of Kansas in 2010 and took office in January 2011. As Governor, Brownback initiated what he called a “red-state experiment”—dramatic cuts in income tax rates, intended to bring economic growth. He signed into law one of the largest income tax cuts in Kansas history. The tax cuts caused state revenues to fall by hundreds of millions of dollars and created large budget shortfalls. A major budget deficit led to budget cuts in areas including education and transportation. While Kansas’s economy has performed reasonably well since the cuts were passed, the economies of neighboring states have done as well if not better. In the run-up to the 2014 gubernatorial election, over 100 former and current Kansas Republican officials criticized Brownback’s leadership and endorsed his Democratic opponent, Paul Davis. Brownback was reelected in a close race with a plurality, a margin of 3.7%. In June 2017, the Kansas Legislature rolled back Brownback’s tax cuts and enacted tax increases.
In a repudiation of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), Brownback in 2013 turned down a $31.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to set up a public health insurance exchange for Kansas. Also in 2013, he signed a bill that blocked tax breaks for abortion providers, banned sex-selection abortions, and declared that life begins at fertilization.
On July 26, 2017, the White House issued a statement that Brownback would be nominated as the new U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom. The nomination was forwarded by committee, on a party line vote, but expired at the end of 2017 in lieu of a Senate confirmation vote by the adjournment. His nomination was resent by committee to the Senate, on January 8, 2018. On January 24, 2018, the Senate voted along party lines, 49–49, with two Republicans absent, to advance his nomination to the floor. Vice President Mike Pence cast the tie-breaking vote in favor of ending the Democrats’ filibuster against confirmation. With the Senate again locked at 49-49, Pence cast another tie-breaking vote, in order to confirm the nomination. On January 25, Brownback submitted his resignation as governor, effective January 31, 2018. He was sworn in as U.S. Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom on February 1, 2018.
Mike Ghouse, President
Center for Pluralism
Washington, DC 20002