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State Department Fires Back at Ambassador

WASHINGTON (RNS) The State Department fired back at a prominent Catholic ambassador who said the agency has a “rigidly narrow” view of foreign policy that neglects the role of religion in world affairs.

“I can’t imagine an agency that has a broader portfolio,” State Department spokesman Evan Owen said on Monday (April 18).

“We have an ambassador for religious freedom; we have an office for international religious freedom; we publish two reports a year on religious freedom; we maintain a list of countries of particular concern for religious freedom,” Owen said.

Douglas Kmiec, who announced on Sunday he plans to resign as ambassador to Malta on Aug. 15, aired his complaints in letters to President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.


In a report made public this month, the State Department’s Inspector General criticized Kmiec for spending too much time writing about religion.

Kmiec said the Inspector General has a “flawed and narrow vision of our diplomatic mission.” Other foreign policy veterans have echoed Kmiec’s complaints about a God gap at the State Department.

But Owen said religious freedom forms part of the department’s annual human rights report, and is “a measure of the health of any pluralistic society.”

“We’ve spoken out on the oppression of religious minorities in China, Egypt, and a whole host of countries,” Owen said.

Kmiec, a former lawyer in the Reagan administration and onetime dean of Catholic University’s law school, helped shape the intellectual framework for President Obama’s outreach to Catholics during the 2008 campaign.

– DANIEL BURKE, Religion News Service

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment nnmns

    They are happier who never heard of a god.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Newark

    Only the ignorant lower case God…I imagine that’s why they’ve never heard of God.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment nnmns

    Uh, Newark, haven’t you read about gods? There are lots of them, all equally real. It’s “God”, written as though it refers to an existing thing, that’s problematic at best. It’s like the Easter Bunny except even some adults think there is a God.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Jane

    Oh please, Ambassador for Religious Freedom? FIRST, the Obama admin kept that post vacant until very recently, showing NO priority. SECOND, the Ambassador was SUPPOSED to report directly to the Pres, but instead he structured it three tiers below on the chain. THIRD, Suzan Cook, the Ambassador, is hardly a strong proponent of religious freedom.

    Obama has no commitment to minority rights, only Muslim rights. His office never supports Christians, Jews, or Hindus.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Henrietta22

    Jane are you getting your misinformation from “Forwards”, that are extremely biased? Articles about this subject are on net news, and beliefnet, and they don’t say what you just said. Your last comment about President Obama is wrong. He is very committed to minority rights.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment jestrfyl

    It seems like Kmiec wants everyone to be like him. People are different and allowing for the spectrum of differences means no one group (or denomination or religion) is dominant. He seems more oriented on obedience than on creative possibilities. It is likely he will find other work.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment cknuck

    any political religious post from Obama are just as much window dressing as his convenient faith he pulls it out at election time then turns on anything of God after he has secured the foolish Christians who vote for him.
    Newark don’t fall for nnmns toxic slights he and his crones have no reverence for God and such things should be expected.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment cknuck

    H22 Obama has not been committed to minorities and has made no change you support him because homosexuality is one of his main pushes while real minorities suffer the same faith always have.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment jestrfyl

    You are taking your news cues from FOXNoise again (thanks, nnmns, I like that moniker). Obama has made more efforts with faith based initiatives and minority rights than has been seen in at least the last 10 years. Also his statements about religion and his faith are far more genuine than anything muttered by the last administration. And you can be sure that the contenders from the elephantine party have little genuine or inclusive to say about religion or their own faith. At best, they parrot phrases and aphorisms they learned in the first three years of Church School, before they tuned out or were absent.

    Diatribes against Obama like this are similar to the ones about his philosophy about taxes. It has been published recently that people are paying less taxes this year than in the last 60! And if I recall about 20 years ago we elected a president who had to undo the extravagances of the previous 2 administrations that left the country in a huge debt crisis. The debt was erased, only to become another deep and wide hole when the next administration stepped in 10 years ago. I see pachyderm wallows (mud holes for self preservation and satisfaction) where the rhetoric about “relief” is spewed.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment cknuck

    jest I don’t need fox anything to see I am with the people who should be feeling the effects if it was true. What is said and what is done is always different come out of the ivory tower and come to where the poor actually are and see for yourself it is you who is getting your information from a slanted source.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment jestrfyl

    I live where the bubble burst first; the face of expectation and poverty is everywhere. No Ivory Tower for me, just life with the folks with the same needs known across the country. And all I see are elephant footprints on the foreclosed homes and empty businesses.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Henrietta22

    I’ve lived through the era of “Brother can you spare a dime”, Ck. During the the great depression. The Republicans were in before F.D.R., Hoover the Repub., actually. Franklin D. Roosevelt pulled us out, Democrat of course. I know poor very, very well. I’ve been there and done that. The Republicans have messed up the United States of America time after time during our lifetime, we don’t need any more of their “big” ideas. They dig holes and like a MO sink hole they just get bigger until anyone around just falls in and disappears!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment cknuck

    jest I love your riddles (another indication of folly) I understand you live in an area of upper middle class folk of who some are losing their homes as the market is in flux. Ooohhh!

    H22 I cannot get over the fact that you are over a hundred and still quite lucid, I think it is wonderful. I understand why you would think that one party is better than the other, I take it things are pretty black and white with you and your allegiances run deep. When is your next birthday and just how old will you be then?

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Henrietta22

    My years of experience and observation have served me well, and I really don’t match my chronological age, Ck.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment cknuck

    is your hubby over 100 also?

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Henrietta22

    He doesn’t match his chronological age either ck. It was a marriage made in heaven.

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