Magazine article The Christian Century

Death Leaves Void on Religious Freedom Panel

Magazine article The Christian Century

Death Leaves Void on Religious Freedom Panel

Article excerpt

The director of a unique federal panel charged with promoting religious freedom worldwide has died after a struggle with cancer.

Joseph Crapa, 63, executive director of the U. S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, died October 25. A onetime high-level staffer to congressional Democrats, Crapa was respected by Republican and Democratic appointees alike.

Crapa had directed the panel's staff since 2002, leading it from an oddly situated fledgling federal agency to one widely respected--and in some cases feared--by foreign-policy experts at home and abroad.

"Joe had sharp political instincts but a soft personal touch," said Michael Cromartie, the panel's current chair. "He had an unwavering, principled commitment to advancing the work of this bipartisan commission in protecting religious freedom worldwide."

The panel was established by the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act and approved by Congress and then-president Bill Clinton, but it was bipartisan and was not formally part of any branch of the federal government.

Under the leadership of Crapa, a Catholic, the panel gained prominence with regular fact-finding missions and reports on abuses of religious freedom and other human rights in various nations whether or not those nations are friendly to the U. …

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