New Commissioners Bring Distinguished Religious Freedom Track Records to USCIRF

On May 17, 2024, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) welcomed three new commissioners: Maureen Ferguson, Vicky Hartzler and Asif Mahmood, each of whom brings a wealth of experience advocating for religious freedom to USCIRF.

Maureen Ferguson, a Senior Fellow with The Catholic Association and co-host of the nationally syndicated radio show Conversations with Consequences, is a well-known speaker and columnist on cultural issues, particularly freedom of faith. She is also involved in various advisory committees and boards that promote religious freedom, including the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture at the University of Notre Dame and The Belmont House.

“I am deeply humbled and joyously thrilled to be appointed to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.”

Raised on a Missouri farm and later teaching high school for 11 years, Vicky Hartzler served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2011 to 2023, where the People’s Republic of China sanctioned her and other government colleagues for calling out Chinese officials for their involvement in human rights abuses against the Uyghur Muslim community. While in Congress, Commissioner Hartzler introduced The Combatting the Persecution of Christians in China Act and supported numerous pieces of legislation to protect Uyghur Muslims.

Pakistani-American Asif Mahmood is a practicing physician, a human rights activist and interfaith community organizer, chair of the Organization for Social Media Safety and a board member of Hope the Mission. “I am deeply humbled and joyously thrilled to be appointed to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom,” Dr. Mahmood said. “This is not any less than a miracle for a little guy from very humble beginnings in rural Pakistan to serve on probably the most powerful body on global religious freedom.”

In ushering in the new commissioners, USCIRF also thanked outgoing Commissioners Abraham Cooper, David Curry, Frederick Davie, Mohamed Magid, Nury Turkel and Frank Wolf for their service. At the same time, Commissioners Stephen Schneck and Eric Ueland were reappointed to another term of service by the president and Senate minority leader, respectively. With Commissioner Susie Gelman’s term running through May 2025, USCIRF now carries a complement of six commissioners.

Created by an Act of Congress, USCIRF monitors, analyzes and reports on religious freedom abuses abroad. It makes foreign policy recommendations to the president, the Secretary of State, and Congress to stop religious persecution and promote freedom of religion and belief.

STAND warmly welcomes USCIRF’s new commissioners, and we extend our utmost appreciation to Commissioners Cooper, Curry, Davie, Magid, Turkel and Wolf for their invaluable work to protect one of the most precious human rights—on behalf of us all.