As Townhall.com reports, the incident occurred last week during the confirmation hearings for Russell Vought, the nominee to be deputy director of the White House Office of Management and Budget. During the hearing, Vought was attacked by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) over his Christian beliefs, specifically, that salvation comes through Jesus Christ alone.
Senator Sanders based his criticism on an article written in 2016 in which Vought described Islam as a “deficient theology.”
“This is a fundamental problem,” Vought wrote in The Resurgent. “Muslims do not simply have a deficient theology. They do not know God because they have rejected Jesus Christ his Son, and they stand condemned.”
Sanders demanded to know if Vought believed that statement to be Islamaphobic.
"Absolutely not, Senator. I'm a Christian,” Vought said, “and I believe in a Christian set of principles based on my faith...”
Sanders then cut him off and demanded to know if he believed people in the Muslim religion stand condemned.
“I don't know how many Muslims there are in America. Maybe a couple million. Are you suggesting that these people stand condemned? What about Jews? Do they stand condemned too?" Sanders demanded.
"Senator, I'm a Christian..." Vought began.
But Sanders cut him off, shouting, "I understand you are a Christian, but this country [is] 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 responded by saying that he believes all people are made in the image of God and are worthy of dignity and respect regardless of their religious beliefs and that they should be treated accordingly.
This did not satisfy Sanders, who turned to the Chairman of the committee and said, “This nominee is really not someone who this country is supposed to be about.”
The comment created an instant firestorm with Americans from all persuasions condemning Sanders for suggesting that Christians are not fit for service because of a core belief – that salvation comes through Jesus Christ alone - even though the same faith also requires all to be treated with respect and dignity.
To demonstrate how misguided is Sander’s argument, if we apply his litmus test to Muslims, they would fail as well because they believe that those who do not profess belief in Mohammad to be infidels.
For that matter, so would atheists who don’t believe that people who believe in God are reasonable. Does this mean they can’t serve either?
According to Sander’s misguided litmus test, only the “elite” (i.e., secularists) are qualified to serve in government positions in the United States, even though such a select group would hardly demonstrate the representative democracy that this country’s Constitution calls for.
“This is a disgraceful and unconstitutional line of questioning from the man who came close to being the Democratic nominee for president,” writes David French for National Review. “He’s not only imposing a religious test for public office in direct violation of Article VI of the United States Constitution, he’s gone so far as to label this decent man — who’s seeking to serve his country in a vital role — as ‘not someone who this country is supposed to be about’.”
He goes on to say that Vought expressed entirely orthodox Christian beliefs which mirror the faith of countless Christian churches and schools across the land.
“Are these believers also not fit for public office?” he demands. “I’ve written that Christians and Muslims don’t worship the same God. I suppose that means America’s not ‘about’ me, either.”
Robert Jeffress, the pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, told Townhall he believes the senator has two choices: "Apologize to the country for his foolhardy attempt to introduce an unconstitutional litmus test that would exclude 41 percent of the country, or resign.”
In the meantime, the Family Research Council has initiated a nationwide petition demanding that Sanders apologize for his bigotry.
As the petition states: “Our Constitution guarantees there will be no religious litmus test. Americans should never be forced to choose between their faith and public service.”
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