President Bush appoints new Commissioners

Aug 13, 2003

August 13, 2003

Anne Johnson, Director of Communications, (202) 523-3240, ext. 27

WASHINGTON - President George W. Bush today appointed the Most Reverend Charles J. Chaput of Denver, Colorado, Professor Khaled M. Abou El Fadl of Los Angeles, California, and Dr. Richard D. Land of Nashville, Tennessee, to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, an independent and bipartisan federal agency.

"I am delighted that President Bush has appointed three individuals as distinguished and knowledgeable as Archbishop Chaput, Dr. Land, and Professor El Fadl. The experience and perspective they bring will greatly enhance the work of our Commission, as well as our effectiveness. The selection of these three eminent individuals is also indicative of President Bush's commitment to the very important issue of international religious freedom," said Commission Chair Michael K. Young.

The Most Reverend Charles J. Chaput was installed as the Archbishop of Denver in 1997. Prior to that he served as Bishop of Rapid City, South Dakota for nearly nine years. He served as the Provincial Minister and CEO of the Capuchin Province of Mid-America in Denver for five years, in addition to holding various other leadership positions there. Upon his installation as Archbishop, he became the first Native American archbishop (Prairie Band Portawatomi Tribe) in U.S. history. Archbishop Chaput has a M.A. in Theology from the University of San Francisco and a M.A. in Religious Education from Capuchin College in Washington, DC. He has a B.A. in Philosophy from St. Fidelis College in Pennsylvania. He was also an instructor of Theology and the Spiritual Director at St. Fidelis College Seminary.

Khaled Abou El Fadl is Visiting Professor at Yale Law School and Professor of Law at the University of California, Los Angeles. Professor El Fadl is one of the leading authorities in Islamic law in the United States and Europe. His personal library contains over 6500 Islamic books and manuscripts, some dating from the thirteenth century. He teaches Islamic law, Middle Eastern Investment Law, Immigration Law, and courses related to human rights and terrorism. He works with various human rights organizations, such as Human Rights Watch and the Lawyer's Committee for Human Rights. He often serves as an expert witness in international litigation involving Middle Eastern law, and in cases involving immigration law and political asylum claims. Professor Abou El Fadl was trained in Islamic legal sciences in Egypt, Kuwait, and the United States. He holds a B.A. from Yale University, a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, and a Ph.D. in Islamic Studies from Princeton University. After law school, he clerked for Arizona Supreme Court Justice J. Moeller. While in graduate school, he also practiced immigration and investment law in the United States and the Middle East. He previously has taught at the University of Texas at Austin, Yale Law School, and Princeton University.

Richard D. Land is President and CEO of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, where he has served in this position since October 1988. Dr. Land will be serving his second term on the USCIRF. Prior to becoming the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission's President, Dr. Land served as The Criswell College's Vice-President for Academic Affairs from 1980 to 1988. He had taught as Professor of Theology and Church History at that institution since 1975. Dr. Land holds a B.A. from Princeton University, Ph.D. from Oxford University in England, and a Master of Theology from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. While on leave of absence from The Criswell College, Dr. Land served from January 1987 to May 1988 as Administrative Assistant to the Honorable William P. Clements, Jr., Governor of Texas. Dr. Land was the Governor's senior advisor on a variety of issues including church-state relations. After Dr. Land's return to The Criswell College in May 1988, he continued to serve as a senior consultant to the Governor. He was also appointed in June 1988 to serve on the Governor's Welfare Reform Task Force. He is an ordained Southern Baptist minister and has been a member of a Southern Baptist Church since 1953. He has pastored Baptist churches in Texas, Louisiana, and England.

The Commission consists of nine voting Commissioners and the Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, who is a non-voting member. Three Commissioners are selected by the President, two by the leaders of the President's party in Congress, and four by the congressional leaders of the other party.

Archbishop Chaput, Professor El Fadl, and Dr. Land join Preeta Bansal, Felice D. Gaer, Bishop Ricardo Ramirez, Leila Nadya Sadat, Nina Shea, and Dean Michael K. Young on the Commission. Commissioners serve for one- or two-year terms and are eligible for reappointment.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom was created by the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 to monitor the status of freedom of thought, conscience, and religion or belief abroad, as defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and related international instruments, and to give independent policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State and the Congress.

Dean Michael K. Young,Chair


  • Felice D. Gaer,Vice ChairNina Shea,Vice ChairPreeta D. BansalArchbishop Charles J. ChaputKhaled Abou El FadlRichard LandBishop Ricardo RamirezLeila Nadya SadatAmbassador John V. Hanford III,Ex-OfficioJoseph R. Crapa,Executive Director