White House Deputy Budget Director nominee Russell Vought was questioned recently during his confirmation hearing; during that hearing, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders grilled him concerning his evangelical beliefs.
Citing a letter of concern from the Arab American Institute, Sanders questioned Vought about an op-ed article he wrote for the Resurgent in 2016 that defended the theology of his evangelical alma mater Wheaton College after it had suspended a professor who had argued that Christians and Muslims worship the same God. That incident later created a firestorm.
Sanders criticized Vought on the belief that Muslims and other non-Christians stand condemned if they do not follow Jesus Christ, reported The Christian Post.
“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?” asked Sanders.
After Vought’s response that he his stance was consistent with his college’s viewpoint, Sanders added, “I would simply say, Mr. Chairman, that this nominee is really not someone who this country is supposed to be about.” Sanders criticized Vought’s statement as “indefensible,” “hateful,” and “Islamophobic.”
NFL star and outspoken Christian Ben Watson offered his perspective on the hearing, saying that “with all the talk about what’s unAmerican, a U.S. senator attempting to disqualify a nominee because of his faith is exhibit A.”
Evangelist Franklin Graham also commented on the hearing, pointing to Scripture John 14:6: “Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’ End of discussion.”
Other Christian leaders, including Russell Moore, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, have commented on the concern over using religion as a test for public office.
“Even if one were to excuse Senator Sanders for not realizing that all Christians of every age have insisted that faith in Jesus Christ is the only pathway to salvation,” he wrote in a joint statement from the ERLC, “it is inconceivable that Sanders would cite religious beliefs as disqualifying an individual for public office in defiance of the Constitution.”
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