Bernie Sanders Says Christians Can Have Religious Freedom, Just Not Serve in Government

In an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper on Sunday, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) stood by his unconstitutional religious test for a Trump nominee who expressed mainstream Christian doctrine. Sanders said the nominee has religious freedom to believe whatever he wants privately, but should be barred from public office for speaking negatively about Islam.

"At a time when we are dealing with Islamophobia in this country, where 1.2 billion people are Muslims around the world, to have a high-ranking member of the United States government essentially say Islam is a second-class religion ... that seemed to me unacceptable as a government official," Sanders said.

Earlier this month, Sanders attacked Russell T. Vought, Trump's nominee to be deputy director of the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), on his Christian faith. Quoting an article Vought wrote in The Resurgent last year, Sanders said, "I would simply say, Mr. Chairman, that this nominee is really not someone who is what this country is supposed to be about."

"You 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.' Do you believe that that statement is Islamophobic?" Sanders asked Vought. He further badgered Vought, "Do you believe people in the Muslim religion stand condemned? Is that your view? ... What about Jews? Do they stand condemned too?"

Vought repeatedly responded to Sanders, saying: "I'm a Christian." He explained that he was defending his alma mater, Wheaton College, which "has a statement of faith that includes the centrality of Jesus Christ for salvation."

Sanders interrupted Vought multiple times, at one point declaring, "I understand you are a Christian, but this country is made of people who are not just — I understand Christianity is the majority religion, but there are other people of different religions in this country and around the world." Again he badgered, "In your judgment, do you think that people who are not Christians are going to be condemned?"

To be clear, "the centrality of Jesus Christ for salvation" is a central Christian doctrine. According to the Bible, only those who believe in Jesus Christ will be saved at the end of time. Vought was articulating this very mainstream view, and he insisted that he would treat non-Christians just like everyone else in terms of government service.