Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback isn’t well-liked. A recent survey reports that he has a 25 percent approval rating, which is even lower than President Trump’s abysmal 35 percent approval rating. So it seems natural that the Trump administration picked Brownback as its religious freedom ambassador.
On Wednesday, the administration announced that Brownback was nominated to lead the Office of International Religious Freedom, which falls under the State Department. He would serve as an ambassador at large for international religious freedom, working to spread religious freedom as “a foreign policy objective,” the New York Times reports.
For Kansas residents and politicians, Brownback is an odd pick. The governor isn’t popular with either Democrats and Republicans in the state, with many criticizing his policies on small government and sharp tax cuts. His cuts were so unpopular among constituents in fact, that Republicans and Democrats combined forces in the Kansas Legislature to push through a bill that would strip away parts of the governor’s tax cuts and raise $1.2 billion for the state—despite the fact that Brownback had already vetoed the legislation.
Brownback would take a vastly different role as an ambassador. The State Department’s official website for the Office of International Religious Freedom reports that the office will “monitor religious persecution and discrimination worldwide, recommend and implement policies in respective regions or countries, and develop programs to promote religious freedom.” This includes assisting “emerging democracies in implementing freedom of religions and conscience” as well as identifying and denouncing “regimes that are severe persecutors on the basis of religious belief.”
It remains unclear what role the office will play in the White House’s larger State Department foreign policies. For the time being, Brownback will continue to serve as Kansas’s governor, as his nomination must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate before he can begin his ambassadorship.