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Pepperdine to Host Ambassador Sam Brownback and Knox Thames to Discuss Bipartisan Approaches to International Religious Freedom

Knox Thames and Sam Brownback

On Monday, April 8, 2024, at 12:30 PM, the Sudreau Global Justice Institute, in partnership with the Pepperdine School of Public Policy, will feature former International Religious Freedom ambassador Sam Brownback and Caruso School of Law and School of Public Policy Senior Fellow Knox Thames, who will speak broadly about the importance of the United States advancing religious freedom around the world and how the right and left can work together in pursuit of it. The conversation will be moderated by Pete Peterson, dean of the School of Public Policy.

Brownback served as the US ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom from February 2018 to January 2021. He served as the 46th governor of Kansas from 2011 to 2018 and prior to that represented his home state in the US Senate and the House of Representatives. While a member of the Senate, he worked actively on the issue of religious freedom in multiple countries and was a key sponsor of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998. 

Prior to his public service, Brownback practiced law and taught agricultural law at Kansas State University. He earned a bachelor of science from Kansas State University and a juris doctor from the University of Kansas. Ambassador Brownback currently serves as co-chair of the International Religious Freedom Summit and is a Senior Fellow at Global Christian Relief. He is also chair of the National Committee for Religious Freedom.

Throughout his 20 years of service in the US government, Thames held several key positions advocating for freedom of religion or belief, including at the State Department and two different US government foreign policy commissions. Serving in the Bush, Obama, and Trump administrations, he has worked at the intersection of global affairs, religion, and human rights. Known for his nonpartisan approach to advocacy, both the Obama and Trump administrations appointed Thames as the special advisor for religious minorities in the Near East and South Central Asia at the State Department. 

In April 2023 Thames joined Pepperdine University as a senior fellow, directing the new Program on Global Faith and Inclusive Societies from the Washington DC campus. In addition, since 2020, he has worked as a nonresident senior visiting expert at the United States Institute of Peace. Both positions are possible thanks to the Templeton Religion Trust. Thames received a bachelor of arts from Georgetown College, a juris doctor from American University's Washington College of Law and a master's in international affairs from the School of International Service at American University. In addition, he studied at Jagiellonian University in Kraków, Poland.

Attendees will enjoy catered lunch from Chick-fil-A at noon prior to the discussion. The event is free to attend, however, registration is required.