Bernie Sanders attacks Trump Nominee over Christian beliefs
By Kevin Payne
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) snapped at Russell Vought, President Trump’s nominee for deputy director of the White House Office of Management and Budget over his views on Christian and Muslim theology.
Sanders took aim at an article written by Vought and published by The Resurgent in January 2016. The article dealt with the then-furious debate at Wheaton College over whether Muslims and Christians worship the same God.
“This is a fundamental problem,” Vought wrote. “Muslims do not simply have a deficient theology, they do not know God because they have rejected Jesus Christ, and they stand condemned.”
Sanders took issue with Vought’s statement, claiming that America is a country full of people that have different religious beliefs and should be respected.
“In my view, the statement made by Mr. Vought is indefensible, it is hateful, it is Islamophobic, and it is an insult to over a billion Muslims throughout the world,” Sanders told the committee during his introductory remarks.
Sanders deemed Vought unsuitable for office because he believes that salvation is found through Jesus Christ alone. He went on to say that someone with that kind of religious belief system is not someone who this country is supposed to be about.
After Sanders concluded his questions, Sen. James Lankford warned that his comments came dangerously close to crossing a clear constitutional line for how we evaluate qualifications for public servants.
“The First Amendment is crystal clear that the federal government must protect every American’s right to peaceful and free exercise of religion,” Lankford said. “We cannot say we have free exercise of religion and also require people to practice their faith only in a way that government officials prefer.”
Sen. Sanders comments also brought strong condemnation from Christians across the nation, including Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council.
“Senator Sanders is taking the Obama era’s religious hostility and putting it on steroids,” Perkins said.
Many have said that Sanders’ line of questioning has created an unconstitutional religious test for public service. Vought’s nomination has not yet been scheduled.