Bernie Sanders may not have been able to fulfill his presidential aspirations, but that doesn’t mean he’s planning to go quietly into the night. The outspoken socialist is still looking to cause all kinds of trouble in the Senate. Unfortunately, what he just did took it too far, and even liberals are criticizing him now.
Instead of focusing on Vought’s qualifications, or the theoretical lack thereof, Sanders attacked Vought’s religious beliefs. He took issue with previous statements Vought has made, such as an op-ed he wrote for “The Resurgent” in which he said, “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.” Sanders slammed Vought for this, saying it was “indefensible” and “hateful”. “It is Islamophobic. And it is an insult to over a billion Muslims throughout the world,” Sanders said.
But Vought refused to be intimidated. “I’m a Christian, and I believe in a Christian set of principles based on my faith,” he responded. “That post … 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.”
For his part, Sanders refused to let Vought speak, repeatedly interrupting him to yell things like, “I understand that you are a Christian!” and “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?”
It didn’t take long for people to point out that Sanders had just violated Article VI of the Constitution, which reads, “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”
Russell Moore, the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, responded to the interrogation, saying, “Senator Sanders’ comments are breathtakingly audacious and shockingly ignorant—both of the Constitution and of basic Christian doctrine.” Evangelical leader Franklin Graham, meanwhile, responded on Facebook:
Is Bernie Sanders right? NO. Is he wrong? YES.
Is Russell Vought politically correct? NO. Is he right? YES!
But it wasn’t just evangelical Christians who slammed Sanders for his reprehensible attack. Emma Green, writing for “The Atlantic”, said, “It’s one thing to take issue with bigotry. It’s another to try to exclude people from office based on their theological convictions. Sanders used the term ‘Islamophobia’ to suggest that Vought fears Muslims for who they are. But in his writing, Vought was contesting something different: He disagrees with what Muslims believe, and does not think their faith is satisfactory for salvation. Right or wrong, this is a conviction held by millions of Americans—and many Muslims might say the same thing about Christianity.”
“This is the danger of relying on religion as a threshold test for public service, the kind of test America’s founders were guarding against when they drafted Article VI,” Green continued. “As the demands for tolerance in America become greater, the bounds of acceptance can also become tighter. Ironically, that pits acceptance of religious diversity against the freedom of individual conscience.”
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