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As long as there's clean towels at the embassy...


Donald Trump has sent a rescue mission to pluck Kansas Governor Sam Brownback out of the wreckage of his state government now that the Kansas legislature has dismantled Brownback's tax cuts, which somehow didn't create a huge economic boom. Maybe because the tax cuts needed to be bigger. But now, Brownback will be U.S. America's new "ambassador at large for international religious freedom," a position that has actually been around since 1998. Here's a fun fact: in 1998, Sam Brownback was in Congress, and he voted for the bill that created the ambassadorship. He's awfully happy to accept the job and get right on the job of fixing religious freedom around the world:

In a Trump administration that's been hollowing out the State Department and still hasn't bothered appointing people to hundreds of administrative positions, it's good to know the president has his eye on protecting our souls. And even foreigners' souls. (Souls, yes, Seoul no -- Trump hasn't picked anyone to serve as ambassador to South Korea yet. You'd think that place might be a priority?) And what the heck does an ambassador for religious freedom do? The New York Times 'splains,

In the ambassadorship, Mr. Brownback would lead the Office of International Religious Freedom, which is under the umbrella of the State Department and charged with promoting religious freedom as a foreign policy objective.

So it's kind of a human rights job, in an administration that hasn't really given two shits for human rights in the broader sense, what with the president cozying up to dictators from Turkey to the Philippines. But religious oppression, we care about, especially Christians, who have it the worst, everywhere. And yes, there really are persecuted Christians in several Middle Eastern countries. We have a feeling Brownback, a conservative Catholic who while governor of Kansas did what he could to crack down on abortions and gays, just might not be the top human rights guy for other religious groups facing persecution, but we're open to being persuaded otherwise.

Over at Esquire, Charlie Pierce asks what seems like a relevant question, maybe: "How is that even a job under a secular Constitution?" Yes, there is religious persecution in the world, but why would we separate out religious rights from human rights? Especially in a government whose top diplomat, Rex Tillerson, said between naps one time that promoting human rights tends to be "an obstacle" to advancing American economic and military interests, because honestly, Jimmy Carter cared about human rights and just see where that got him. Add to that Donald Trump giving Rodrigo Duterte an attaboy for the swell job he's doing massacring people suspected of being drug dealers or users, and congratulating Recip Tayyip Erdogan on Turkey's latest step toward dictatorship, and we have some real doubts about the value of bringing Sam Brownback on to monitor the world for religious freedom. Still at least that's one area of human rights the USA pretends to care about. Maybe Russian gays who are being discriminated against can start a (Christian) church and try to get Brownback's attention.

Once Brownback is confirmed by the Senate, which will no doubt have some tough theological questions for him, the job of Kansas governor will fall to Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer, who'll get to clean up the mess Brownback made. Lucky guy!

We're hoping that before Brownback creates any international incidents by inviting all Muslims, Buddhists, and Jews to rest easy, his job is to bring the love of Christ to all lands, the Trumpers will give some thought to who'll fill not only real diplomatic posts, like maybe to Venezuela, which is having a spot of trouble, but also to other abstractions, like the Ambassador for Free Enterprise and the Ambassador for Greatness.

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[Esquire / Deseret News / Brookings Institute / NYT]

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