Adventist to Direct U.S. Religious Freedom Panel
James Standish, veteran advocate, served world church seven years
BY ADVENTIST REVIEW STAFF
Seventh-day Adventist who spent the last seven years advocating for the religious freedom of 16 million church members now has a wider constituency: the whole world.
James Standish, until recently Director of Legislative Affairs at the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, now will serve as executive director of United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, an independent, bipartisan federal agency advising the Administration and Congress.
Standish succeeds Joseph R. Crapa, who served as executive director of the Commission from 2003-2007, until Crapa’s death last October.
“The Commission warmly welcomes James Standish,” stated Commission chair Felice D. Gaer. She said his “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.”
James Standish worked for the General Conference for seven years.
“It is an honor to join the Commission, particularly as we approach the tenth anniversary of the creation of the International Religious Freedom Act, legislation that affirmed the importance of religious freedom promotion in U.S. foreign policy,” Standish said. “The magnitude and severity of violations of the universal right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion worldwide cannot be understated.”
Standish is widely published, has discussed religious freedom issues on nationally broadcast television and radio, and has testified on religious freedom matters before the United States House of Representatives, most recently in February, when he spoke in support of the Workplace Religious Freedom Act, or WRFA, before the House of Representatives Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee.
“Mr. Standish brings to the Commission critical experience in both grassroots advocacy and a publication history that speaks to his impressive, non-partisan ability to approach issues of religious freedom from political, legal, and theoretical perspectives,” Ms. Gaer noted.
Standish received his undergraduate degree from Adventist-owned Newbold College in England, a M.B.A. from the University of Virginia and a J.D., cum laude, from Georgetown University. He is a member of the Virginia State Bar and the District of Columbia Bar, and has been admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court and the Fourth Circuit.
The Commission, established by the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (IRFA), monitors violations of the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion or belief abroad, as defined in IRFA and set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and related international instruments. It provides independent policy recommendations to the president, secretary of Ssate, and congress, and is the first government commission in the world with the sole mission of reviewing and making policy recommendations on the facts and circumstances of violations of religious freedom globally.
Nine congressional and presidential appointees serve on the commission: Felice D. Gaer, chair; Michael Cromartie, vice chair; Elizabeth H. Prodromou, vice chair; Don Argue; Preeta D. Bansal; Imam Talal Y. Eid; Dr. Richard D. Land; Leonard A. Leo; and Nina Shea.
John V. Hanford III is ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom, and in that capacity he addressed an Adventist-sponsored religious liberty dinner on Capitol Hill in 2003.