WASHINGTON (JTA) — President Donald Trump named Gary Bauer, the Washington director of Christians United for Israel, to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
“We have seen a disturbing rise in anti-Semitism and persecution of Christians around the world, but especially in the Middle East,” Bauer, a veteran of top Education Department posts in the Reagan administration, said in a CUFI release on Thursday. “We must confront these two threats. Through this post, I will work to ensure the President and Congress are provided real policy options for contending with religious persecution in the world.”
The commission is an independent body that tracks religious freedoms overseas.
In a tweet Bauer, a longtime evangelical activist, said his “focus” in the post “will be on the growing persecution of Christians and the rising tide of anti-Semitic hatred around the world. Muslim majority nations are biggest culprits.”
Commissioners are chosen by the president and congressional leaders of both parties for their experience, which may include specialization in defending a particular faith, but they are expected to address the range of allegations of persecution.
JTA asked Bauer if he would also focus on allegations of the persecution of Muslims, for instance in China and Burma.
“The commission has nine members, and I am sure persecution of Muslims will be the focus or main priority of some of them,” he told JTA. “I have spoken out against all religious persecution, but my focus will be Christian persecution and anti-Semitism.”
Christians United for Israel has become a pro-Israel lobbying force in Washington, D.C., and state capitals, with its politics skewing to the right.
Another appointee to the religious freedoms commission in May, Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council, has drawn criticism because of his past controversial statements about Muslims and the LGBTQ community. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., named Perkins to the commission.