Tony Perkins Elected Chair of Bipartisan U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom

Jun 17, 2019

June 17, 2019


Tony Perkins Elected Chair of Bipartisan U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom

Gayle Manchin and Nadine Maenza Elected Vice Chairs

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today elected Tony Perkins as Chair for the 2019-2020 term.  

“Chair Perkins is an effective leader and an experienced advocate for freedom of religion or belief,” said retiring Chair Tenzin Dorjee, noting that Perkins has spoken out on the plight of religious minorities in Iran and of Uighurs in China. He also travelled to Egypt in 2018 where he raised religious freedom concerns with foreign leaders, including King Abdullah II of Jordan and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. As part of USCIRF’s Religious Prisoners of Conscience Project, Chair Perkins has adopted Boko Haram-held captive, 16-year-old Nigerian Leah Sharibu, and he was instrumental in securing the freedom of Pastor Andrew Brunson from Turkey.

Said Perkins, “I would like to thank my fellow commissioners for entrusting me with the responsibility of guiding this Commission. It is an honor to work with this diverse group of dedicated professionals on such an important issue. I look forward to continuing our efforts to promote the fundamental human right of religious freedom for all people.”

Chair Perkins was first appointed to the Commission on May 14, 2018, by the Honorable Mitch McConnell (R), Senate Majority Leader, for a term expiring in May 2020.

In addition to the position of Chair, the Commission also elected its two Vice Chairs: Vice Chair Gayle Manchin was appointed to the Commission by the Honorable Charles Schumer (D), Senate Minority Leader, on April 19, 2018. Vice Chair Nadine Maenza was appointed to the Commission by President Donald J. Trump on May 15, 2018.

Also serving on the Commission are: Kristina Arriaga, Gary L. Bauer, Anurima Bhargava, Tenzin Dorjee, Andy Khawaja, and Johnnie Moore. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback serves ex officio on the Commission.

Read the full Commissioner bios here.



The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is an independent, bipartisan federal government entity established by the U.S. Congress to monitor, analyze and report on threats to religious freedom abroad. USCIRF makes foreign policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State and Congress intended to deter religious persecution and promote freedom of religion and belief. To interview a Commissioner, please contact USCIRF at or Kellie Boyle at or +1-703-898-6554.