Sam Brownback’s long competition with Paul LePage to be America’s most terrible governor is now at an end. Thanks to Trump, he’ll be our new ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom:
One theory suggests this is an attempt to put the deeply unpopular Brownback away, in a position where he would theoretically do less damage to the GOP. This is a relatively obscure position at State, and he will obviously not have the power there that he currently enjoys as the governor of Kansas.
But this isn’t a meaningless appointment, either. The ambassador-at-large heads State’s Office of International Religious Freedom. Religious freedom is an integral plank in a broader human rights platform, and the position is also responsible for conducting outreach to various American religious groups.
Which means Brownback, an arch-Christian conservative, is exactly the wrong choice for the role. As governor, he signed a useless ban on Shariah law that singled out the state’s Muslim residents for no valid reason. He waged constant war on separation of church and state, especially in public schools, and consistently promoted religious events and programming in his official capacity as governor. His appointment sends a dangerous message, especially in light of a May speech delivered by Mike Pence that promised assembled religious leaders that the Trump administration considered global religious freedom a major priority.
That Brownback has been made an ambassador on the same day Trump decided to ban all transgender people from serving in the U.S. military is not a coincidence. Nor is it a coincidence that Pence is vice president and Jeff Sessions is attorney general. The Trump administration will throw scraps to the religious right whenever it needs to quiet the dogs.