Senator Bernie Sanders doesn't think Christians are fit to serve in public office.
In a shameful exchange Wednesday caught on video, Sanders grilled Russell Vought, President Trump's nominee for Deputy Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, about his Christian beliefs. When Vought refused to disavow his belief that Muslims "stand condemned" because "they have rejected Jesus Christ," Sanders became livid.
"I would simply say, Mr. Chairman, that this nominee is really not someone who this country is supposed to be about," Sanders said. "I will vote no."
Ironically, Democrats like Sanders have been assailing President Trump for allegedly applying a religious test when it comes to immigration. Yet clearly Sanders has no problem applying a religious test when it comes to holding public office, something specifically forbidden in the U.S. Constitution. What's clear from Sanders' diatribe is that he believes only those who believe that people of all faiths are going to heaven (i.e. universalists) should be allowed to hold public office.
Sanders began his interrogation Wednesday by quoting something Vought wrote for a publication called The Resurgent, which Sanders said "has bothered me and bother many other people."
In the article, Vought is responding to the controversy at his alma mater, Wheaton College, over whether Muslims and Christians worship the same God. Vought, like almost all orthodox Christians, concluded that that they do not.
"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?" Sanders asked.
Vought responded, "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 then interrupted. "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 reiterated that he is a Christian and again Sanders interrupted. "I understand that," he said. "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 again said he's a Christian and then Bernie, red-faced and incensed shouted, "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?"
At this point, I wish Vought would have simply quoted Jesus like he did in his Resurgent article: "Jesus says, 'Whoever believes in [the Son] is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.'"
He then could have turned the question back on Sanders and said, "Sir, do you expect me to contradict the very words of Jesus Christ, the Savior I worship?"
It also would have been choice if Vought would have pointed out that Muslims think all Christians are condemned, as well. Does Sanders want to bar all Muslims from serving in public office too? I doubt it since Sanders also quoted a letter condemning Vought from the Arab American Institute and Muslim Advocates. I guess it's okay for Muslims to condemn Christians, just not the other way around.
Vought went the politically correct route and stated, "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."
Not surprisingly, Sanders then asked, "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 then reiterated that he wrote the post in accordance with his Christian beliefs and in accordance with a Christian school whose statement of faith speaks "clearly in regard to the centrality of Jesus Christ in salvation." Sanders would have none of it and then quite indignantly announced his rejection of Vought as a nominee.
Mr. Sanders' statements reveal the shocking lack of tolerance among liberals today. Tolerance requires respecting the real differences between myself and someone who holds an opposing view. It does not require conformity to that view.
So as a Christian, I exercise tolerance when I afford a Muslim, with whom I strongly disagree, the same rights to his belief as I have. But tolerance most certainly does not mean I have to believe that all Muslims are going to heaven. That is absurd.
Also, Sanders apparently knows absolutely nothing about what America "is supposed to be about." It's about freedom – something the Founding Fathers derived directly from Christianity, but is woefully absent in Islam and Shariah Law.
Bernie Sanders owes the estimated 240 million Christians in America a sincere apology for his intolerant statements and bullying behavior on Wednesday. He has not shown that Mr. Vought is unfit for public office. On the contrary, he has shown that he is unfit.