U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), the runner-up in the 2016 race for the Democratic presidential nomination, needs to brush off a Constitution.
Well, he does for a lot of reasons, but yesterday during a nomination hearing for Russell Vought, who President Donald Trump picked to be the Deputy Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, applied an unconstitutional religious litmus test.
Here’s the transcript:
Sanders: Let me get to this issue that has bothered me and bothered many other people. And that is in the piece that I referred to that you wrote for the publication called Resurgent. You 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.” Do you believe that that statement is Islamophobic?
Vought: Absolutely not, Senator. I’m a Christian, and I believe in a Christian set of principles based on my faith. That post, as I stated in the questionnaire to this committee, was to defend my alma mater, Wheaton College, a Christian school that has a statement of faith that includes the centrality of Jesus Christ for salvation, and . . .
Sanders: I apologize. Forgive me, we just don’t have a lot of time. Do you believe people in the Muslim religion stand condemned? Is that your view?
Vought: Again, Senator, I’m a Christian, and I wrote that piece in accordance with the statement of faith at Wheaton College:
Sanders: I understand that. I don’t know how many Muslims there are in America. Maybe a couple million. Are you suggesting that all those people stand condemned? What about Jews? Do they stand condemned too?
Vought: Senator, I’m a Christian . . .
Sanders (raises his voice): 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. I will vote no.
Article VI, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution states, “but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”
As a voter, I am free to apply a religious litmus test. Heck, I can not vote for someone because I don’t like their hair. I don’t have to explain myself.
That is not what this clause is talking about. Sanders, exercising his advise and consent role for a nominee for public office as U.S. Senator, can not. Now it is unlike that Sanders being a socialist was ever going to support someone who believes in getting rid of the estate tax.
That is not what appeared to bother Sanders the most; that Vought would think Muslims stand condemned before God because they don’t believe in Jesus is “unAmerican” according to Sanders.
That view is historically flawed, and it also demonstrates that Sanders does not have one iota of a clue about orthodox Christian doctrine. This belief held by many of our founding fathers is held by many Americans today. It isn’t our idea. Vought made an exclusive statement about salvation through Christ because the Bible does.
Jesus said plainly, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him 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,” (John 3:16-18, ESV).
Jesus then made this exclusive claim, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me,” (John 14:6, ESV).
What???? You have to go through Jesus Christ to get to the Father?
This theme, seen throughout the New Testament, has been the cornerstone of the Christian faith for 2000 years. According to Sanders, a person would have to violate their belief (or never articulate it publicly) to qualify for office.
Imagine a Republican Senator making a similar comment about a Muslim nominee. Muslims, by the way, don’t believe Christians are going to Paradise. They consider us infidels, and they have the Constitutional right to believe that (I can’t see Sanders saying that is “Christophobic.”)
Unfortunately, Sanders’ view will become more and more common. It is par for the course with the current trajectory of our culture. Christians must be prepared.