Appointment of Far-Right Evangelist Tony Perkins Strains Credibility of USCIRF

Washington, DC (May 16, 2018) — Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY), yesterday, appointed controversial, far-right evangelist, Tony Perkins as one of nine commissioners of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom. Perkins, president of the Family Research Council (FRC), has a long history of hateful stances against non-Christians. The Hindu American Foundation raised red flags over the appointment.

In 2007, Rajan Zed, who became the first to offer a Hindu prayer before the US Senate, was met with hardline Christian protests.  In response, Perkins’ said, “No one can legitimately challenge the fact that the God America refers to in the national motto and other places is the monotheistic God of the Jewish and Christian faith. There is no historic connection between America and the polytheistic creed of the Hindu faith.”

Perkins also spoke out against a US Marines yoga and meditation program for PTSD prevention. He described the practices, both of which are rooted in Hindu and Buddhist traditions, as “goofy” and getting in the way of a personal relationship with God. According to Perkins, only faith, that too the Christian faith, could do that.

Hindu American Foundation Executive Director Suhag Shukla expressed concern about the Perkins appointment, saying:

“HAF has expressed long-standing concerns about USCIRF’s credibility. From the lack of religious representation among Commissioners to the hiring of questionable ‘experts’ with ties to radical, separatists outfits, USCIRF remains bereft of any diversity, transparency, and accountability, and as a result, hurts our country’s ability to be a genuine torchbearer of religious freedom. The appointment of Tony Perkins only worsens USCIRF’s credibility as an objective monitor of religious freedom around the globe.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center has also classified Family Research Council as a hate group for its stances against non-Christians as well as LGBT people.