U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont garnered controversy over his questioning of Trump appointee Russ Vought's Christian beliefs.
At issue was a column Vought wrote defending Wheaton College's decision to punish professor Larycia Hawkins for taking the public stance that Christians and Muslims worship the same God, which contradicts the evangelical school's official position.
After an exchange based on Vought's comments that Muslims "stand condemned" for not believing in Jesus, Sanders declared that he would vote no on Vought's appointment.
Here are five reactions to Sanders' comments. They come from both liberal and conservative perspectives and are largely critical of the former Democratic presidential hopeful's statements.
1. Rob Boston
Rob Boston of the Washington, DC-based liberal group Americans United for Separation of Church and State provided The Christian Post with a statement via email on Monday.
"Sen. Sanders should have been clearer in his questioning, but the bottom line is that all people have the right to be treated equally by the government, regardless of whether they follow a faith or none at all," stated Boston.
"When someone agrees to serve the American people, he must honor this fundamental American tenet. A government official must serve everyone respectfully, fairly and equally, regardless of his personal religious beliefs."
2. David French
Conservative columnist David French wrote an opinion piece published Saturday by the National Review arguing that Sanders "could use a remedial course in the text and meaning of the Constitution."
"Sanders's tirade was certainly outrageous: Article VI of the Constitution prohibits religious tests for public office, and he blatantly violated the language and spirit of that prohibition in Skewering Vought," wrote French.
"Each public servant, including Vought, is required to support the Constitution regardless of his faith. If he were to violate the constitutional rights of any citizen he could and should be held to account — even if he believed his action to be religiously justified or compelled. But no senator can simply presume that Vought won't comply with the Constitution because he believes only followers of Jesus Christ will receive salvation."
3. Jim Wallis
Liberal evangelical Christian Jim Wallis of Sojourners said in a syndicated column that "Democrats need to become more religiously literate and faith-friendly."
"We religious progressives often feel ignored and abandoned by a Democratic Party that seems indifferent to our religious traditions," wrote Wallis.
"As an evangelical advocate for social justice, I have fought right-wing religious fundamentalism my whole life. But the secular fundamentalism of the left is not much better — and it certainly does not help garner votes at election time."
4. Friendly Atheist
Popular Patheos blogger Hemant Mehta, also known as the "Friendly Atheist," posted an entry last week denouncing Sanders' actions.
While stating that he believed the senator's "heart is in the right place," Sanders' argument that Vought did not deserve to hold a federal government position because of his beliefs "is completely wrong."
"Sanders said he would vote no to Vought because he's a Bible-believing Christian, not because he said he would put the Bible over the Constitution while on the clock," wrote Mehta.
"That's religious discrimination. That's a violation of Article 6 of the Constitution (the part that says there should be no religious test for public office)."
5. James Zogby
James J. Zogby, co-founder of the Arab American Institute, wrote in a column published by the organization that Sanders was right to reject Vought's nomination.
Part of Zogby's reasoning was that by supporting Wheaton's decision to punish Hawkins for her belief that Muslims and Christians worship the same God.
"I cannot agree with Sanders' critics. He is right. Vought is not what America is 'supposed to be about' and he is not fit to serve as Deputy Director of OMB," wrote Zogby, himself a Christian.
"Senator Sanders is right. At issue is not Vought's Christian faith or his theology. It is his intolerance for the faiths of others, including a fellow Christian whose termination he supported because he did not agree with her theology."