Article VI of the U.S. Constitution states:

no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

But a religious test is precisely what Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) applied on June 7, 2017, in a Senate confirmation hearing for Russell Vought, President Trump’s nominee for deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

 

To begin, Russell Vought is eminently qualified to be OMB Deputy Director. With a Bachelor’s degree from Wheaton College and a law degree from George Washington University, Vought had been:

  • Executive director and budget director of the Republican Study Committee.
  • Vice president of the conservative policy advocacy organization Heritage Action.
  • Policy director for the Republican Conference of the U.S. House of Representatives.
  • Legislative assistant for U.S. Senator Phil Gramm.

Russell Voight is also an evangelical Christian.

In 2015, Vought’s alma mater, Wheaton College — an evangelical Christian institution — suspended tenured political science professor Larycia Hawkins for stating in a Facebook post that Muslims worship the same God as Christians, and that she would wear a hijab in solidarity with Muslims. In a January 17, 2016 blog post, Vought weighed in on the theological debate sparked by Hawkins’ suspension. Referring to Dr. Hawkins’ suspension, Vought wrote:

“While many faculty, alumni, and outside observers are typically outraged and embarrassed by this ‘assault on academic freedom,’ I am proud of the school and hope they stand their ground. Here’s why:

First, the theological issue at stake is very important, as it pertains to what we believe about our savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. Christians believe that Jesus is the Son of God who is fully divine (and became fully human). This matters immensely for our salvation. If Christ is not God, he cannot be the necessary substitute on our behalf for the divine retribution that we deserve. […]

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. In John 8:19, Jesus answered, ‘You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also.’ In Luke 10:16, Jesus says, ‘The one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.’ And in John 3:18, Jesus says, ‘Whoever believes in [the Son] is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.‘”

Note that Vought quoted Jesus’ own words that anyone who rejects Him and doesn’t believe that Jesus is the Son of God is “condemned already”.

For that — for stating his religious beliefs — Vought was browbeaten and called “Islamophobic” and “hateful” by Bernie Sanders during the confirmation hearing for the OMB deputy directorship.

As recounted by John Daniel Davidson for The Federalist:

“On Wednesday, June 7, 2017, another Senate hearing: Sen. Bernie Sanders, in a blatant violation of Article VI of the U.S. Constitution, was applying a religious test for an office of public trust.

Specifically, Sanders doesn’t think Christians are fit to serve in government because they’re bigots. Basic Christian theology, in Sanders’s view, ‘is indefensible, it is hateful, it is Islamophobic, and it is an insult to over a billion Muslims throughout the world.’ […]

During the hearing Wednesday, Sanders repeatedly quoted one particular passage he described as ‘Islamophobic’ and ‘hateful.’ Vought wrote: ‘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.’

As a matter of theology, there is of course nothing objectionable, much less Islamophobic, about that. It is simply a statement of fact: core Christian doctrine, plainly stated in the Bible, says that eternal life comes only through faith in Jesus Christ. Not that exclusivity is unique to Christianity. By their very nature, most religions are exclusive, especially when it comes to salvation.

As for having a ‘deficient theology,’ one could substitute any other religious group for Muslims: Christians also believe that Jews have a deficient theology, along with Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Zoroastrians, and the tens of thousands of Britons who claim membership in the Temple of the Jedi Order. And of course, members of all these religions likely believe Christians have a deficient theology.

But to Sanders, a sincerely held religious belief—like believing there is only one path to salvation—amounts to bigotry and should disqualify anyone, or at least Christians, from public serviceReporting for The AtlanticEmma Green noted that at one point, the exchange between Sanders and Vought became tense, with Sanders ‘raising his voice and interrupting Vought as he tried to answer questions.

Sanders: I don’t know how many Muslims there are in America, I really don’t know, probably a couple million. Are you suggesting that all of those people stand condemned? What about Jews? Do they stand condemned too?

Vought: Senator, I am a Christian—

Sanders: I understand that you are a Christian. But this country is made up of people who are not just—I understand that Christianity is the majority religion. But there are other people who have 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?

[…] Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, who defended Sanders, saying, ‘I don’t think anybody was questioning anybody’s faith here.’ Van Hollen then questioned Vought’s faith and claimed his theology is all wrong: ‘I’m a Christian, but part of being a Christian, in my view, is recognizing that there are lots of ways that people can pursue their God.’

It should go without saying that this is the sort of thing that should never come up in a Senate confirmation hearing. […] Article VI of the Constitution states that ‘no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.’ Yet it seems that Sanders and his ilk not only want to exclude sincere Christians from public office, but to impose a kind of secular test of their own[…]

That’s more or less what Sanders did by conflating Vought’s thoroughly commonplace understanding of Christian theology with racism and bigotry. A spokesman for Sanders said in a statement issued Thursday: ‘In a democratic society, founded on the principle of religious freedom, we can all disagree over issues, but racism and bigotry—condemning an entire group of people because of their faith—cannot be part of any public policy.’ The nomination of Vought, ‘who has expressed such strong Islamaphobic language,’ the statement said, ‘is simply unacceptable.’

At the hearing on Wednesday, Sanders said he would vote against confirming Vought for deputy director of the OMB. Afterwards, Muslim groups including the Council on American-Islamic Relations and Muslim Advocates, along with the American Civil Liberties Union, condemned Vought’s comments, saying without a hint of irony that his views threaten the principle of religious freedom.

[…] the progressives who now run the Democratic Party will turn a blind eye to the exclusivity claims of Muslims and other religious groups they think they need in their political coalition. But they will not suffer Christians. There’s a simple reason for that: Democrats know they have lost orthodox Christians as a constituency, and now they have no use for them.”

Born and raised as an American Jew, Bernie Sanders had a bar mitzvah. Although he rarely speaks about religion and describes himself as “not particularly religious,” when asked about his Jewish heritage, Sanders said he is “proud to be Jewish”. (Wikipedia)

Given that, Sanders surely knows about his Jewish heritage’s Talmud — the collection of sayings and writings by rabbis which has priority over the Torah as Judaism’s sacred scripture. That deeply Christophobic and hateful Talmud that calls Jesus Christ a “bastard”, “conjurer”, “fool”, “seducer” and “buried in hell”; Jesus’ mother a “prostitute” and “whore”; and all Christians as “idolators”, “murderers”, “bestialists”, “evil”, “unclean”, “like dung”, nonhuman “beasts”, lower than dogs, and “children of the ancient serpent”. (See Rev. I. B. Pranaitis, The Talmud Unmasked: The Secret Rabbinical Teachings Concerning Christians; and Michael Hoffman, Judaism’s Strange Gods.)

By his own yardstick, Bernie Sanders should never have held political office as a U.S. senator.

See also:

 ~Eowyn
Republished with permission Fellowship of the Minds

Viewpoints expressed herein are of the article’s author(s), or of the person(s) or organization(s) quoted or linked therein, and do not necessarily represent those of The Olive Branch Report

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