June 28, 2017
If Christians can't serve in government, then 91 percent of Congress is out of a job! According to Pew Research Center, that's how many House and Senate members describe themselves as Christian. And while we can debate how Christian they vote, the reality is that the religious contingent on the Hill hasn't really changed. As analysts point out, "This is nearly the same percentage as in the 87th Congress (1961 to 1962, the earliest years for which comparable data are available), when 95 percent of members were Christian."
Those statistics must dismay Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who threw a memorable tantrum over the beliefs of Trump budget pick Russell Vought. Accusing him of not being someone "this country is supposed to be about," Sanders went on a surprising tirade over Vought's belief that Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation. Most people were slack-jawed—not just because Vought's convictions replaced his competence as the focus of the hearing, but because Sanders exposed exactly how intolerant the Left has become toward faith.
For Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.), co-chairman of the congressional Prayer Caucus, it was a wake-up call. Like most of us, he'd taken it for granted that an American couldn't be disqualified from public service for their faith. With help from others in the House, he's moving to protect other Christians from the unfair treatment Vought received. In a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions that Walker is circulating for signatures, he's calling on the Justice Department to guarantee that "we are all able to 'exercise religion and participate fully in civic life without undue interference by the Federal Government."
"Article VI supports the accuracy of our observation that 'the test oath is abhorrent to our tradition.' That statement is as true in 2017 as it was in 1789. Yet, questions were asked during a recent Senate Budget Committee hearing about an executive branch nominee's adherence to the Christian faith, suggesting that such beliefs disqualified the nominee from service," he writes.
The free exercise of religion means the ability to practice your faith without fear of punishment by the government. The government violates that right if it determines which faith or non-faith practices are valid or which aspects of a particular faith are legitimate. As such, we urge you to make clear in your forthcoming guidance that the scope and meaning of Article VI has not changed: no religious test will ever be required to serve in the government of the United States."
You may not be able to sign Congress's letter, but you can add your names to ours! Click here to join the 56,000 Americans who are demanding an apology from Senator Sanders and a guarantee from his colleagues that men and women of faith won't be excluded from public service.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.