Trump Nominee Not Hindered by Bernie Sanders' Religious Litmus Test

Tony Perkins is President of Family Research Council. This article appeared in Daily Signal on June 23, 2017.

No thanks to Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., President Donald Trump’s pick for the Office of Management and Budget is one step closer to his new job.

After a faith-based grilling that left Sanders red-faced and Americans in shock, Russell Vought’s nomination squeaked out of the Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee by the narrowest of margins, 8-7.

The hearings caught the country’s attention when Sanders made the case that Christians like Vought are unfit for public office—even in jobs that have nothing to do with faith.

While Sanders fired shot after shot at the Office of Management and Budget’s soon-to-be second-in-command, Vought was the picture of poise, explaining that he thinks everyone has inherent dignity, even if they don’t agree with him that Jesus is the only way to salvation.

It was a surreal scene for anyone watching, especially since Vought’s convictions—not his qualifications—were Sanders’ main concerns.

Like many in the media who were taken aback, National Review’s Ian Tuttle explains how the left’s religion of non-religion is unfairly influencing politics.

There is a long and stupid tradition of believing that the American right threatens to impose an evangelical Christian theocracy on the United States—that every Republican lawmaker is looking to erect an official church and make women cover their ankles. In reality, it is the proudly irreligious left that has smuggled religious debates back into our politics. It is the unabashedly secular left that has knocked down the ‘wall of separation’ and made the afterlife an immanent political issue.

Fortunately, plenty of others piled on, including the Conservative Action Project (which released this letter demanding that liberals stop their religious intolerance) and Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla.

On Wednesday, the Oklahoma leader fired back at Sanders’ religious test.

There was some dispute in a different hearing about Russell Vought and his faith and this came up in a budget meeting about is he too much of a Christian to be able to serve. I just want to make a public statement that that’s appalling to me that that became part of the debate at the dais that someone made a statement that because he was strong in his Christian faith he was not qualified to serve.

Article XI of the Constitution says there’s no religious test for any officer of the United States and that shouldn’t even have been a discussion in that committee hearing. I’m glad that wasn’t a discussion or a consideration here, but it is one of the things that we should not evaluate people. He’s in an economics position. It doesn’t matter if he’s Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, or no faith at all. We’re faith-neutral. And so I’m grateful that was not an issue for any of us and I would hope that’s not a growing trend for us as a body.