Moore: Sanders' remarks ignorant of the Constitution

Southern Baptist religious freedom advocate Russell Moore has decried Sen. Bernie Sanders' stated opposition to a White House nominee based on the candidate's adherence to foundational Christian teaching.

Sanders—an independent from Vermont and 2016 candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination—said  on June 7 he will oppose Russell Vought's nomination as deputy director of the White House Office of Management and Budget. In announcing his opposition, Sanders cited a 2016 blog post by Vought in which he said Muslims "stand condemned" because they have rejected Jesus.

Vought "is not someone who is what this country is supposed to be about," Sanders said, according to the Associated Press. The nominee's post was "hateful" and "Islamaphobic," and he should not be confirmed, the senator said.

Moore described Sanders' comments as "breathtakingly audacious and shockingly ignorant—both of the Constitution and of basic Christian doctrine."

"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, it is inconceivable that Senator Sanders would cite religious beliefs as disqualifying an individual for public office in defiance of the United States Constitution. No religious test shall ever be required of those seeking public office," said Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

"While no one expects Senator Sanders to be a theologian, we should expect far more from an elected official who has taken an oath to support and defend the Constitution," he told Baptist Press in a written statement.

In his comments, Moore referred to Article VI of the U.S. Constitution, which includes: "No religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."

Sanders took exception to comments made in a January 2016 blog post in which Vought defended his alma mater, Wheaton College, after the Christian school began termination proceedings against a professor who said Christians and Muslims worship the same God.

In the post at The Resurgent website, Vought 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."

Sanders called Vought's post "indefensible."

"It is hateful. It is Islamaphobic," Sanders said at Vought's June 7 hearing before the Senate Budget Committee. "And it is an insult to over a billion Muslims throughout the world."

In the hearing, Vought said, "I'm a Christian, and I believe in a Christian set of principles," according to AP. Vought said his post was intended to defend the actions of Wheaton College and were not anti-Islamic.

"I specifically wrote it with the intention of conveying my viewpoint in a respectful manner that avoided inflammatory rhetoric," Vought said in a written response to the committee, AP reported.

Vought previously served as executive director of the Republican Study Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives and vice president of Heritage Action for America.Sanders is the lead Democrat on the Budget Committee.

Tom Strode is Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention's news service. 

Comments (1)

  • Ken Sears Reply

    As I wrote to Mr. Sanders today, both as a post on his Facebook page and in an e-mail to his office: Mr. Sanders, declaring that a nominee to a government post who happens to subscribe to the classic tenets of the Christian faith, and has dared to actually express those beliefs, is ipso facto "not what this country is about" is on a par with Hitler considering Jews not to be what Germany was about. Your faux-indignation, as if you had never heard of Christian teachings until just that hearing, your cheap, demagogic employment of demonization, your implicit call for the marginalization of Christians who happen to genuinely, consciously hold to a set of faith convictions, all of that is of a Goebbelian fabric and texture. It should horrify and appal everybody who has any sense of history and of how mob movements to scapegoat, ostracize and, when worst comes to worst, extirpate "the others" begin. They don't begin with an Auschwitz. They begin with "the others" no longer being quite convenient among polite society, getting quietly dismissed from professional positions, and, of course, being persona non grata within government. It's shocking that you, the ostensible liberal, can be so tone-deaf. I can only assume rank, raw, perhaps rabid, political ambition and partisan animus has so deafened you. When you were running for president, even people who didn't subscribe to your sociopolitical theories appreciated your sincerity, your apparent joy in the battle, your willingness to lay it all out there, on the line. Especially in contrast with "I don't answer questions on the way to the coronation" Hillary. Well, you have definitively squandered that political capital. Now, you are just a peevish, spleen-venting, frustrated and malicious demagogue.

    June 10, 2017 at 8:54 am

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