Standish named new head of religious-freedom commission

Adventist leader James Standish has been named the new executive director of a federal panel that advocates for global religious liberty.

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WASHINGTON (ABP) — Adventist leader James Standish has been named the new executive director of a federal panel that advocates for global religious liberty.

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom announced Aug. 20 that James Standish would lead the independent, non-partisan federal agency.

“The commission warmly welcomes James Standish,” Felice Gaer, chair of the panel and director of the Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights, said in a prepared statement. “Mr. Standish’s academic and professional background in human rights and religious freedom advocacy has made him a respected leader, both on Capitol Hill and among the widely varying constituencies whose causes he has represented.”



For his part, Standish said that it was “an honor to join the commission, particularly as we approach the 10th anniversary of the creation of the International Religious Freedom Act.” The 1998 law created the panel, which monitors religious-freedom conditions worldwide and advises Congress, the White House and the State Department on freedom-of-conscience issues.

“The magnitude and severity of violations of the universal right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion worldwide cannot be understated,” Standish continued. “I am honored to join the commission as it addresses some of world’s most pressing human rights crises.”

He was director of legislative affairs for the Seventh-day Adventist Church for seven years prior to accepting the commission’s top staff post. He succeeds Joseph Crapa, who died last year.



Standish earned an undergraduate degree from Newbold College in the United Kingdom, a master of business administration degree from the University of Virginia and a law degree from Georgetown University.


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