June 08, 2017
It was supposed to be a hearing about the Office of Management and Budget. But the only deficit people are talking about is the Left's deficit of tolerance. Russell Vought, Donald Trump's choice for the agency's second-in-command, was in for a surprise yesterday when his confirmation was debated in the U.S. Senate. The conversation, which should have been about Vought's economic experience, turned fiercely personal, thanks to Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders (I). Instead of big-picture financials, the debate became a firefight over Vought's Christian faith -- the latest proof that eight years of Obama's religious hostility still lingers. At issue was a column Vought wrote last year suggesting that Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation. Quoting the piece, Sanders launched his first missile:
Sanders: "'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...
Sanders: "...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 these people stand condemned? What about Jews? Do they stand condemned too?"
Vought: "Senator, I'm a Christian..."
Sanders (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: "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: "...Do you think that's respectful of other religions?... I would simply say, Mr. Chairman that this nominee is really not someone who this country is supposed to be about."
Actually, Russell Vought is exactly what this country is about. He's exercising the belief that America was founded upon: that we are one nation, under God. The ability to voice that belief -- even in the public square -- is the same vision that brought the Pilgrims to America. Honestly, it doesn't get any more central to America's identity than that. But after two terms of trying to drive Christianity underground, the Left isn't about to declare a cease fire. If Bernie Sanders's comments are any indication, they're more determined than ever to wipe men and women of faith off the public service map.
Like so many of us, the Washington Times's Cheryl Chumley couldn't believe her ears. "When it comes to Christians standing firm in their faith, that's discriminatory. When it comes to Muslims standing firm in their faith -- however murderous that stand might become -- that's freedom of religion." Apparently, in this age of "diversity," the only group that it's acceptable to attack is Christians.
Just because Christians believe what Jesus said about man's spiritual destiny ("I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me") doesn't mean they think other faith groups have no rights. On the contrary, Christians are the most consistent defenders of religious liberty for all. Still, Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) insisted that Vought's comments "suggest a violation of the public trust." That's ridiculous. Being a Christian doesn't disqualify you from public office, running a business, or even selling fruit at a local market. In fact, the Founders were so worried about this kind of religious litmus test that they put an article in the U.S. Constitution to stop it!
"In a democratic society," Sanders's office said later, "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." But that's exactly what Sanders did! It just so happens that the entire group he condemned was Christian. That's not only unconstitutional, it's un-American. Sign our petition calling on Bernie Sanders to apologize for his religious bigotry and ask the Senate to evaluate nominees based on their competence -- not their convictions.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.