Faith Whittlesey, advocate for persecuted Christians, remembered

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Faith Whittlesey, former ambassador to Switzerland and the highest-ranking woman in the Reagan White House, passed away on May 21, 2018.

Ambassador Whittlesey was Chairman Emeritus of the Board for Christian Freedom International (CFI) where “she applied her deep convictions and savvy to help persecuted Christians around the world,” said CFI President Wendy Wright.

She received the CFI Freedom Award in 2009 along with this recognition:

“Ambassador Whittlesey provided the critical insight and direction that launched CFI into official existence in the U.S. in 1998. The Ambassador’s longtime service on CFI’s board of directors, serving as its first chairman for several years, has been an invaluable contribution to the growth of the organization, enabling it to feed multitudes of refugee orphans, ship thousands of Bibles to the underground church, and strengthen CFI’s voice on behalf of the world’s persecuted in Washington, DC.

Through Ambassador Whittlesey’s efforts, suffering Christians in countries such as China, Burma, and Bangladesh have greatly benefited from CFI’s loving ministry and tireless advocacy. CFI is proud to acknowledge Ambassador Whittlesey’s essential role in its founding and history and gratefully bestows on her the 2009 Freedom Award.”

A devout Christian, Amb. Whittlesey overcame obstacles as a single mother to become one of the most influential people in the Reagan conservative movement. She served twice as Reagan’s ambassador to Switzerland, where she helped launch negotiations that resulted in changing Switzerland’s secretive banking laws. Whittlesey was also head of the White House Public Liaison office where she advised President Reagan on the thinking of his conservative and religious base of supporters.

Religious freedom was a key element in Reagan’s philosophy and success. One clear example of his integration of religious freedom into foreign relations was his quiet diplomacy that resulted in the release of Pentecostal Christians from Russia.

Whittlesey is credited with communicating Reagan’s policy agenda to opinion leaders and elevating the influence of Evangelical, Catholic and other conservative religious groups to the White House.

The New York Sun said of Amb Whittlesey, “We came to think of her as an ambassador of American idealism and an antidote to the cynicism to which so many had succumbed in the thick of the Cold War.”

Thank you, Faith.