Friday, August 22, 2008

Adventist to direct U.S. religious freedom panel

Standish, veteran advocate, served world church seven years


James Standish brings political, legal and religious perspective to his new post as executive director of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. Standish accepted the job last month following seven years serving as director of Legislative Affairs for the Adventist world church. [ANN file photo]

A veteran Seventh-day Adventist religious freedom advocate announced last month that he has accepted the top staff post of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.

James D. Standish, Esq., director of Legislative Affairs at the Seventh-day Adventist Church world headquarters for the past seven years, will now serve as executive director of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, an independent non-partisan federal agency advising the White House and Congress.

"The Commission warmly welcomes James Standish," Commission chair Felice D. Gaer said, calling him a "respected leader" both on Capitol Hill and among the constituencies he has represented.

"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 a political, legal and theoretical perspective," Gaer said.

Standish called joining the Commission "an honor," particularly given the upcoming tenth anniversary of the International Religious Freedom Act. The 1998 law created the Commission, which monitors violations of right to freedom of thought, conscious and religion or belief abroad and provides independence policy recommendations to the President, Secretary of State and Congress.

"The magnitude and severity of violations of the universal right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion worldwide cannot be understated," Standish said.

Standish is widely published, has discussed religious freedom issues on nationally broadcast television and radio and has testified on religious freedom matters before the U.S. House of Representatives, most recently in February, when he spoke in support of the Workplace Religious Freedom Act.

Standish's new job "shows how the work of our department has had a very positive influence in recent years," said John Graz, director of Public Affairs and Religious Liberty for the Adventist world church. Graz said Standish has "done an outstanding work in Washington, D.C.," and would "continue to lift up religious freedom" at the Commission.

Standish received his undergraduate degree from Adventist-owned Newbold College in England, an M.B.A. from the University of Virginia and a J.D. 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.

Standish joins nine Congressional and Presidential appointees currently serving on the Commission.

Adventist News Network
August 21, 2008

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