Bernie Sanders Attacks Trump Nominee Russell Vought because He’s a Christian

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Everyone needs to read what happened today during The Senate Budget Committee hearing on the nomination of Russell Vought to be Deputy Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget. Here’s National Review’s transcription of a conversation between the nominee and Bernie Sanders:

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 (shouting): 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.

David French, a 1st amendment attorney, points out that there’s not a shred of evidence that Vought has ever discriminated against a Muslim.  Also, he wrote that that Sanders is “not only imposing a religious test for public office in direct violation of Article VI of the United States Constitution, he’s gone so far as to label this decent man — who’s seeking to serve his country in a vital role — as ‘not someone who this country is supposed to be about.’ Vought expressed entirely orthodox Christian beliefs. There is nothing ‘extreme’ about his statements, and they mirror the statements of faith of countless Christian churches and schools across the land.”

An anti-Christian wave runs through the new leftist fascism.  (Note that Maryland Senator Chris Van Hollen, also a Democrat, agreed with Sanders, saying that no one was attacking the nominee’s faith.)  This is dangerous and scary, and reminiscent of all previous Fascist movements.  Bernie Sanders, by declaring Christians are not fit for office or even for this country, is now the leading proponent of this anti-American view.

Image Credit: WikiMedia 

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  • I wish more of us would cut to the chase: Along with socialist Sanders, a devout muslim cannot be a patriotic American.

    • Vikki Hall-Webster

      That is a lie. You betray your ignorance and narrow mind wish such statements. I was raised as a Christian. I learned that Jesus is a god of love and forgiveness. All you do is judge, and not very accurately. The vast majority of devout Muslims are peaceful people that contribute a great deal to our society and culture. Do you honestly believe that Jesus would support your bigotry? You pitiful little man.

      • Shawnie5

        LOL! Fell right into the trap, didn’t you?

  • Gatogreensleeves

    *It wasn’t a religious Litmus test—it was a probe that sought to explore to what extent Vought had ALREADY INSTANTIATED HIS OWN LITMUS TEST, based upon his theology.*

    The truth is that we can’t simply presume that all theists default to non-discrimination regarding out-group members—either other brands of theism or non-believers. Psychological evidence does show (e.g. terror management theory) that theists are biased toward their in-group and against out-groups when primed by religion, commensurately with the extremity of their level of orthodoxy/fundamentalism. So I don’t think Bernie’s in the wrong for making sure Vought’s not a Dominionist, based his statement. Mike Pence once said, “I’m a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican, in that order.” That’s not tolerable. There’s absolutely NO reason to make a statement like that except to communicate to your base your priorities in your political agenda. These people do exist, they hold office, and they must be checked.

    Imagine that the Being that you think is perfect and right and just in every way clearly states that anyone who doesn’t regard Him as the greatest Being will suffer for eternity. If that Being thinks that, and that is someone’s ideal, what disposition do you expect this Being’s followers are going to take toward out-group members, consciously or unconsciously? Bernie was not out of line.

    • kirby61

      Asking a nominee for public office who he thinks is or isn’t going to hell is horribly improper and reminiscent of the Grand Inquisitor subjecting someone to a probe into whether he holds or denies the official doctrines of the Church.

      If Sanders was actually worried that Vought might not carry out the duties of his office in a non-discriminatory manner (and I actually think the firing of the college professor makes that at least a legitimate line of questioning), there are ways a competent person to frame questions about that that don’t turn into a quiz on religious doctrine.

      • Gatogreensleeves

        It depends ENTIRELY on your expectations. If Torquemada was asking the questions, and the expected answers were in line with a particular theistic viewpoint, than you’re right. But Bernie’s expectation were for the OPPOSITE of that. A heuristic of condemnation NOT based upon theistic bias, as the First Amendment requires. Could he have framed it better? There’s ALWAYS a better way to frame it, but these are important questions that serve as a record for possible future/current actions, in the same way that Trump’s tweets about the Muslim Ban informed the courts of his true motivations. And those tweets were allowed as evidence. People’s religious/anti-religious biases are important information, because social science has shown that they DO affect our behavior. While we can’t prosecute or discriminate based on these things, they should be exposed to the public when concerning public officials who are required not to endorse their particular brand of theism, so as to give civilians actual religious freedom.

        • kirby61

          Yes, it was partly the ‘framing’. The guy’s defense of the professor being fired opened up a legitimate inquiry as to his views on the scope of ‘religious freedom’ in the public sector; I just wish Bernie (whom I voted for in the primaries) had stuck more cleanly to a public policy framework instead of seeming to quiz the guy on “Who’s going to hell” stuff.

  • Ayn Nonymous Bosch

    Oh boo hoo. Evangelical Christians have been attacking “heathens” for decades, centuries, and when they have the mirror turned back on them, just a little bit, suddenly it feels like the worst sort of oppression. The Southern Evangelical streak in the US has been the cause of some of our biggest problems in this country, and a lot of what they declare is just ISISes beliefs with “Allah” swapped out for “God”.

    ISIS has never done me a lick of hurt, but I always look over m shoulder when I’m stuck traveling in the South…I still remember the Christian Dominionist terror bombing of 1996 in Atlanta, not to mention the Christian DOminionist terror bombing of Oklahoma City.

    Perhaps if moderate Christians did a better job of distancing themselves from the radical Evangelicals, it wouldn’t be such a problem. Aren’t we always telling Muslims that the moderates have to loudly condemn the radicals. Sauce for the good, sauce for the gander.

    • kirby61

      “Sauce for the good, sauce for the gander.”

      So, if a Muslim nominee were grilled on passages in the Koran involving, say, jihad, and told he must disavow his holy book to even be considered for office (despite having never personally given evidence that he supports any kind of violence), you’d think that was just nifty, one must logically conclude.

  • Ernie Beckley

    Anyone who thinks Sen. Sanders attacked Vought because he is a Christian needs serious mental help, and quite possibly an education. There is a separation of church and state in this country. Putting radical Christians (or any other faith) into public office is contrary to a cardinal tenet of this great nation. Sen. Sanders wasn’t attacking a Christian–he was attacking who is clearly and completely intolerant of anyone who is not a Christian. Those two things are simply not the same, by any stretch.

    • Thomas Dylan

      Sanders is wrong, he should have never asked the question. The employee (Mr. Vought) can be the most devout Jew, Christian, Muslim, atheist….. whatever and not be an issue. If bernie could prove that any decision Mr. Vought was made was based on someone’s religion then yes bernie can ask if not bernie can shut up about vought’s religion

    • kirby61

      “Putting radical Christians (or any other faith) into public office is contrary to a cardinal tenet of this great nation.”

      No such ‘tenet’ exists, of course, but that can perhaps be attributed to ignorance. The fact that you personally believe such an appalling thing, however, suggests that while you claim to see the U.S. as a great nation, you seem to have utter contempt for its principles and constitution.

      • Ernie Beckley

        On the contrary, I have great respect for our nation and its Constitution. I have contempt for those who would use it to foster a personal agenda that is anything but American. We see the so-called religious right do this daily. It is nothing short of sickening.

        • kirby61

          I agree with you on that, but it doesn’t seem to have anything to do with this nominee. There’s no evidence he wants to impose his ‘personal agenda’ on the conduct of the office he was nominated for. On the other hand, your sentence I quoted pretty blatantly says that just ‘having’ certain religious beliefs is a deal-breaker for public office, even if there is no reason to think those beliefs will in any way affect someone’s professional conduct. Maybe you just didn’t realize how sweeping the judgments in your post were, but yes, disqualifying anyone for public service based on his personal spiritual beliefs is un-American.

          • Emyth

            You really don’t know about Russell Vought’s background, do you? Vice President for 7 years of Heritage Action? The folks that invited Betsy DeVos’ hubby to talk with them about Christian Dominionism?

            It’s NOT his beliefs, but rather his intolerance and activism…and then his hiding behind his religion and NOT answering questions that’s the problem…

          • kirby61

            Anything in his ‘background’ that is pertinent to his job is fair game. Even his (minor) involvement in the matter of the fired professor. He shouldn’t be asked who he thinks is damned to hell or why he thinks they are.

  • Jon Godsman

    Much of the violence in Islam is supported by scripture – surely we can criticize that?
    But according to your logic here, Mark, that would be “attacking” someone because they are Muslim. Would it not? And yet, the nominee’s prejudice towards all non-Christians is “ok” because it is part of Christianity? His views are unassailable because any attempt to do so would be an attack on Christianity?

    Let’s cut the PC BS. Do all Christians believe non-Christians will be condemned? It may be written in the Bible, but there is a spectrum of Christianity. As there is a spectrum of Islam. Let’s criticize people by the words that come out of their mouth, and not wrap ourselves in “-isms” so we can play the victim.

    • kirby61

      It would be appalling for a Muslim nominee to be quizzed on his scriptural beliefs, of course. Just as the line of questioning here was incredibly inappropriate and at least in spirit a breach of the separation of church and state.

  • G.S.K. herzak

    Sanders is right, again. Christian politicians really should be barred from running, at least the conservative ones. They always want to impose their views on others and think the rest of us are going to hell, including the pious, because we reject Christ. They can’t be members of a multicultural diverse democratic society as they only rep fellow christofascists!

    • roccolore

      Muslims like you are bigots who hate America but love ISIS.

      • G.S.K. herzak

        Why are you people so obsessed with ISIS? Christians slaughter each other in higher numbers in Southern Sudan and over 12 million in Congo. Indian Hindus kill thousands of untouchables. And righties complain about ISIS only? Worst haters of America and the Constitution, conservatives! Plus war pimps too!

        • roccolore

          It’s Muslims like you doing the slaughtering, especially against Christians. Muslims hate the Constitution and instead want Sharia.

          • G.S.K. herzak

            I’m not going all over the world and getting my head rightfully chopped off for telling others how to worship & live am I. Christians in China, Pakistan, Iran, India, South America…on the other hand!