BERNIE SANDERS decided to go after the religion of a nominee for Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget…This was a vicious attack on RUSSELL VOUGHT who has strong Christian beliefs that have absolutely nothing to do with what he was being questioned about. Religious beliefs aren’t budgetary concerns. This was a personal attack on a DEVOUTLY RELIGIOUS man who had written an article years past defending his Christian College.
PART OF THE EXCHANGE BETWEEN SANDERS AND VOUGHT:
Sanders is quoting from an article that Vought 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.
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: 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. I will vote “no.”
CAN THE US GOVERNMENT IMPOSE RELIGIOUS TESTS FOR PUBLIC OFFICE:
The Constitution says the U.S. government can’t impose religious tests for public office. But scholars say Sen. Bernie Sanders can without consequence apply his own religious rubric in opposing a presidential nominee who believes non-Christians risk going to hell.
The Vermont independent, who is Jewish but “not particularly religious,” grilled Russell Vought, nominee to be deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, on Wednesday, focusing on an article he wrote that said Muslims “do not know God because they have rejected Jesus Christ his Son, and they stand condemned.”
Sanders asked if that view was Islamophobic, and if Jews also stand condemned.
Vought responded that he is a Christian. “In your judgment, do you think that people who are not Christians are going to be condemned?” Sanders asked. Vought began to answer before Sanders interrupted, asking if that viewpoint was “respectful of other religions.”
National Review columnist David French writes that Sanders was “imposing a religious test for public office in direct violation of Article VI of the United States Constitution” and that he was objecting to “entirely orthodox Christian beliefs” about access to heaven.
Constitutional scholars say Sanders, who said he will vote against Vought, may violate the spirit of the Constitution, but arguably not Article VI, which states: “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”
“No senator should vote against a nominee based on his or her religion. It would violate the spirit if not the letter of the Constitution. But senators can vote against nominees for any reason or no reason at all. There would be no legal consequence, and the nominee would have no forum for complaint.”
Allan Vestal of Drake University Law School says the Constitution’s religious-test ban “does not provide a mechanism for inquiring into the motivations of individual senators and representatives in the votes they cast.”
“There is no constitutional constraint on yea or nay votes, so yes he can do it,” agrees Richard Epstein, a New York University law professor.
Read more: US News