February 27, 2018
Mick Mulvaney has his hands full as the head of the Office of Management and Budget. So, if anyone is relieved to see that the Senate is finally going to vote on Russell Vought, it's him. After eight months of waiting for back-up, Republicans are ready to move the nomination of his second-in-command.
For Vought, it's been a rocky road to confirmation. First, he was the target of the anti-faith Left, who argued that a Christian had no place in public service. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) delivered the rant heard 'round the world when he shouted until he was red in the face that Vought wasn't qualified for the job because he believes Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation.
The aggressive and bizarre attack on Vought's Christianity (which Sanders called "hateful," "indefensible," and "insult[ing]") was an eye-opening display for most Americans, who may not have realized just how much contempt some liberals have for the majority religion in America. As far as Sanders is concerned, Christians in government have four options: they can hide their faith, deny it, recant it, or work elsewhere. As Emma Green wrote for the Atlantic, "It's one thing to take issue with bigotry. It's another to try to exclude people from office based on their theological convictions."
Although the experience was an uncomfortable one for Vought, it certainly crystallized the debate over religious hostility in America. People from all corners of politics stood up and demanded Sanders's (and later, Senator Dianne Feinstein's, D-Calif.) apology. It never came. In fact, Feinstein would find herself at the center of another firestorm months later for insisting that it's impossible to serve both God and country in a fierce attack on Judge Amy Barrett.
She was confirmed anyway, and Vought will have the chance to join her next week when the Senate holds its long-overdue vote. Let's hope they send the right message on religious liberty by confirming him to OMB.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.