By now you have likely heard that Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) openly expressed his disapproval of President Trump’s nominee for deputy director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, Russell Vought. A couple of years ago Vought wrote an online article expressing the traditional Christian belief that Muslims “stand condemned” because of their rejection of Jesus Christ. Sanders’ questioning of Vought focused on this theological belief and Sanders’ distaste for it.
Senator Sanders went far beyond personal disapproval, however. He said he believed Vought was unqualified for the position exactly because of his religious belief and then openly stated that he would not be voting in favor of his nomination. In the exchange, much of which is quoted in the link above, Sanders expressed his opinion that Vought’s Christian belief was at odds with the character of this nation.
To be clear, a sitting U.S. Senator and a popular candidate for President among Democrats, disqualified a man from public office on the basis of his religious beliefs alone.
Several things need to be noted.
What Sanders did was illegal.
Article VI, Section 3 of the Constitution states, “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to an Office or public Trust under the United States.” Senator Sanders pressed a theological point – one that Christians have held for 2000 years, and one which many of our Nation’s Founders held – in order to make the argument that an individual should not hold public office.
What Sanders did is indicative of the left.
The political and cultural left is now wholly secular in its convictions, including the belief that Christians should not be allowed to think with their theology in public. Some form of “that’s intolerant” or “that’s hateful and bigoted” is the go-to epithet when Christians begin thinking out loud. These are not arguments, and certainly far from convincing, but they have the virtue of being believed by the loudest people in the room right now.
Sanders may have only been scoring political points.
It is not a stretch of the imagination to believe that Sander’s core supporters are anti-religious, so he may have been grandstanding for his base by demeaning the faith of a Christian in a public hearing. If so, then he is nothing more but the caricature of an empty suit.
Sanders would never do this to a Muslim.
It is one of the great hypocrisies of our day that the Muslim faith is treated with uncritical approbation by the left and Christianity is treated with uncritical disapproval. One produces people who kill for their faith and the other produces people who die as a witness to their faith (without taking as many as possible with them). Would Sanders be this brazen with a committed Muslim in a public hearing? Do we really need to say the answer out-loud?
Sanders’ understanding of “this nation” is a marked change from the past.
It may be said that Sanders simply does not know what set of philosophical and sociological principles settled and founded this nation, but it may be more accurate to say that he believes in a different set of values which he wants to shape our national character.
Ironically the Christian faith and culture that settled and founded this nation helped create an intellectual and legal climate that codified the “no religious test” clause, whereas Sanders’ form of haute couture tolerance readily produces a religious test that orthodox Christians cannot pass.
What can a Christian do?
Keep thinking in public. Do not be put off by a boisterous group of bullies (some of whom really do have the power to make your life miserable). Instead, speak the Gospel with wisdom, love, and unswerving commitment to the truth. Strive to show the Christian faith reasonable, winsome, and true.
Have confidence in the Christian faith and the truth of the Gospel. I have often lived by the line attributed to Aquinas, “All truth is God’s truth.”
Love your neighbor. There are plenty of wind-bags like this on the national scene, and maybe some of your neighbors are wind-bags, but most of them are not. Relationships tend to break down these stereotypes and create safe and open places for genuine conversation. I love the meaningful conversations I have with friends and acquaintances who believe differently than I do. I hate social media and the atmosphere created many talking heads on the national scene.
Pray. Walk humbly before God. Develop prayerful attention to the world within and around you.
Sanders went after Russell Vought, Trump’s choice for deputy director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, as he testified in his Senate Budget Committee nomination hearing.