Former U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Joining Berkley Center’s Religious Freedom Research Project

September 28, 2017

After leading the State Department’s Office of International Religious Freedom from 2015 to 2017, David Saperstein will serve as a senior research fellow at the Religious Freedom Research Project (RFRP), the nation’s only university-based research program devoted exclusively to the analysis of religious freedom.

Saperstein, who will also be an adjunct professor in the Center for Jewish Civilization within the Walsh School of Foreign Service, worked to elevate the Office of International Religious Freedom to the forefront of U.S. policymaking. 

A Record of Success

Saperstein will bring to the RFRP several decades of experience defending and promoting religious freedom. An ordained rabbi, he served for four decades as the director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. There he represented the public policy positions of the Reform Jewish Movement, the largest segment of American Jewry, to the government and led the movement’s efforts to strengthen social justice programming in synagogues across North America. 

From 1999 to 2000, Saperstein served as the first chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. He was a crucial part of the faith-based movement that supported passage of the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act. A frequent media commentator on religion and public life, Saperstein is also an attorney and taught seminars on First Amendment law and Jewish law at Georgetown University Law Center for over 30 years.

Returning to Georgetown

At the Religious Freedom Research Project, Saperstein will provide strategic guidance for the next phase of the project, which will focus on international religious freedom policy. He will also have an opportunity to publish editorials and articles on the topic. 

Working with the RFRP’s Tom Farr, Tim Shah, and Andrew Bennett, Saperstein rounds out a distinguished team that will address the appropriate means and instruments used to promote religious freedom, as well as debate the goals or ends of foreign policy in the contemporary era. 

“Ambassador Saperstein is a splendid addition to our team of scholars and policy experts,” said Farr. “He brings a wealth of experience, wisdom, and integrity to the RFRP, and we look forward to working with him.”

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