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Pepperdine Professor To Quit Diplomat Post Over Religious Beliefs

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(credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

(credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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MALIBU (CBS/AP) — A law professor at Pepperdine University will resign as the U.S. Ambassador to Malta after a State Dept. report accused of him of talking too much about religion.

Ambassador Doug Kmiec says he will step down from his post on August 15 amid charges from the Inspector General’s report of excessively writing and speaking about his Catholic religious beliefs — the very job Kmiec tells KNX 1070 the president called him to do.

Kmiec was tapped as the ambassador to the Mediterranean nation shortly after President Barack Obama took office. He played a key role recently in helping thousands of Americans and others escape Libya and get to safety in Malta.

Believing the president would ask him to stay on, Kmiec submitted his resignation over what he says was a failure of auditors to understand his intended role on the island nation.

“Malta is at a pivot point between Judaism, Islam and Christianity, and it’s an ideal place where the influence of faith — both positive and sometimes, unfortunately, in its fundamentalist guise, negative — can really complicate foreign policy,” Kmiec said.

In a letter sent to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Kmiec complained that the Inspector General’s office “failed to read any of my writing or see its highly positive effect on our bilateral relations.”

But neither Clinton nor any other Obama administration official stepped up to defend Kmiec actions.

“The hope was the president, when he actually had time to sit down and reflect on it, would say ‘Oh, heck no, Professor Kmiec was sent out there exactly to do this and I hope he keeps doing it for a while’,” Kmiec said, “but unfortunately in the press of business I guess in Washington, that wasn’t the way it worked out.”

Kmiec, who also served as a lawyer in the Reagan administration, was targeted by conservative Catholics and denied Communion by one priest for his support for Obama during the presidential campaign.

The State Department declined comment on Kmiec’s announcement.

(TM and © Copyright 2010 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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