During the confirmation hearing yesterday for Russell Vought, a nominee for a deputy position in the Office of Management and Budget, Senator Bernie Sanders flagrantly violated the intent of Article VI of the Constitution. That article says, in part-
but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.
Sanders was unhappy with something Vought had written regarding Islam. Vought is an evangelical Christian, and had written a piece for a website in which he stated that since Muslims do not believe that Jesus is the Son of God that they “stand condemned.” Here is how the inquisition unfolded:
Sanders (shouting): I understand you are a Christian, but this country are made of people who are not just — I understand that Christianity is the majority religion, but there are other people of different religions in this country and around the world. In your judgment, do you think that people who are not Christians are going to be condemned?
Vought: Thank you for probing on that question. As a Christian, I believe that all individuals are made in the image of God and are worthy of dignity and respect regardless of their religious beliefs. I believe that as a Christian that’s how I should treat all individuals . . .
Sanders: You think your statement that you put into that publication, they do not know God because they rejected Jesus Christ, His Son, and they stand condemned, do you think that’s respectful of other religions?
Vought: Senator, I wrote a post based on being a Christian and attending a Christian school that has a statement of faith that speaks clearly in regard to the centrality of Jesus Christ in salvation.
Sanders: I would simply say, Mr. Chairman, that this nominee is really not someone who this country is supposed to be about.
It does not surprise me that a secular person like Bernie Sanders does not agree with Vought’s religious beliefs. I would imagine that if I sat down with Vought and had a thorough discussion about theology that I would find that I disagree with him about some significant matters. But to declare that a person is not merely unfit for public service, but unfit as an American, simply because you disagree with his religious beliefs, is in direct defiance of the Constitution. As Emma Green of The Atlantic observed:
It was a remarkable moment: a Democratic senator lecturing a nominee for public office on the correct interpretation of Christianity in a confirmation hearing putatively about the Office of Management and Budget.
Let’s turn this situation around. Suppose a devout Muslim was the nominee. And suppose this Muslim had written in support of the traditional view of Islamic teaching that Christians are guilty of shirk – polytheism – for believing that Jesus is the Son of God, and therefore stand condemned. Should these beliefs be fodder for discussion in a Senate confirmation hearing? Of course not. “No religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”
The only reason any religious belief would be relevant in a confirmation hearing is if there were legitimate grounds for thinking that a person could not carry out the responsibilities of that position in light of those beliefs. This is clearly not the case here. As Vought was quick to point out, the same Christian teaching that says that Jesus is the Son of God and Savior of the world also says to love every human being as an image-bearer of God.
But to someone like Senator Sanders, it isn’t enough to show love and respect in the midst of disagreement. No, in the doublespeak so endemic to the radical left, “tolerance and diversity” means “intolerance and uniformity.” And unless this nominee bows the knee to the idol of pluralism (the notion that all religions are the same), he is unfit for office, and unworthy of America.
Religious liberty is in grave peril in America. I never thought that in my lifetime I would see such direct assaults on this sacred right. But as the far left continues to target traditionally-minded Christians, and as the far-right continues to target all Muslims indiscriminately, the space for deeply held convictions is growing smaller and smaller. What a nightmare for freedom awaits believers once the extremes on both sides of the political spectrum realize how much they share in common.