National Council of Churches welcomes appointment of Rabbi David Saperstein as religious freedom ambassador

Washington, July 26, 2014 – Officers and staff of the National Council of Churches praised President Obama’s appointment of Rabbi David N. Saperstein as ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom.

“David is a longtime friend and colleague as well as one of the nation’s leading voices for justice and religious freedom,” said NCC President and General Secretary Jim Winkler. “We applaud the selection of this skilled, sensitive, and eloquent leader for this important post.”

Saperstein is Director and Counsel of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, where he has served since 1974.

He is also an Adjunct Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center, where he teaches First Amendment Church-State Law and Jewish Law.

“David has stood with us and other religious organizations in countless efforts to defend first amendment rights and religious freedom in the U.S.,” said Dr. Antonios Kireopoulos, NCC associate general secretary, Faith & Order and Interfaith Relations.

“He has been among the first to defend the rights of Muslims in the U.S., and the safety of Christian minorities overseas, declaring that the long history of persecution of Jews makes it essential for them to defend the freedoms of other religious groups,” Kireopoulos said.

President Obama said, “I am grateful that Rabbi Saperstein has chosen to dedicate his talent to serving the American people at this important time for our country. I look forward to working with him in the months and years ahead.”

Rabbi Saperstein serves on a number of boards, including The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and the National Religious Partnership for the Environment.

He was a Member of the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships from 2010 to 2011.

Rabbi Saperstein was a member of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom from 1999 to 2001, serving as its first Chair from 1999 to 2000.

Rabbi Saperstein received a B.A. from Cornell University, an M.H.L. from Hebrew Union College, and a J.D. from American University.


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Since its founding in 1950, the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA has been the leading force for shared ecumenical witness among Christians in the United States. The NCC's 37 member communions -- from a wide spectrum of Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox, Evangelical, historic African American and Living Peace churches -- include 45 million persons in more than 100,000 local congregations in communities across the nation.

NCC News contact:  Philip E. Jenks, 646-853-4212 (cell), cruzandjenks@gmail.com