On Religious Tests, It's Vought That Counts
What does a man’s theology have to do with the U.S. economy? A lot, if you’re Russell Vought. The respected economist, President Trump’s pick for deputy director at the Office of Management and Budget, thought he’d have to answer some tough questions at his Senate hearing last week. But like most of us, he thought they’d be about finances — not faith.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) flipped that script, launching into an aggressive and bizarre attack on Vought’s Christianity (which Sanders called “hateful,” “indefensible,” and “insult[ing]”). Shouting until he was red in the face (see the video below), he accused the president’s nominee of being an Islamaphobe for believing what the Bible says about salvation. In a tantrum that made the James Comey hearing seem tame, Sanders managed to expose one thing: which one of them is truly intolerant. To Sanders’s crazy, Vought was the picture of poise, calmly explaining that he believes every person is made in the image of God, but that Christianity teaches that Jesus Christ is the only means of salvation and path to heaven.
It was an eye-opening display for most people, who may not have realized the level of contempt many liberals hold toward the majority religion in America. Just think: This is a senator who almost won the Democratic Party’s nomination for president — a man who thinks there’s no room in the public square for people who believe the Bible! I suppose it shouldn’t be a surprise that the same party which wanted God out of its platform also wants Him out of public service. As far as the Left is concerned, Christians in government have four options: They can hide their faith, deny it, recant it, or work elsewhere. Ironically, that makes most liberals guilty of the same prejudice they’re trying to pin on men and women of faith!
As Emma Green wrote for The Atlantic, “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.”
Unfortunately, liberals like Sanders have no problem hauling someone’s personal views into the limelight and judging them on those beliefs — whether they impact a person’s public policies or not! Sanders’s Oklahoma colleague, Sen. James Lankford, could hardly believe his ears.
Bernie Sanders questioned an OMB nominee [last] week about religion in a way that is dangerously close to crossing a clear constitutional line for how we evaluate qualifications for public service. Article VI of the US Constitution clearly states, ‘no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.’ The First Amendment is crystal clear that the federal government must protect every American’s right to the peaceful and free exercise of religion. We cannot say we have the free exercise of religion and also require people to practice their faith only in a way that government officials prefer… The freedom to be Christian, Yezidi, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, or another religion, or practice no religion, is an American right, and the United States Senate must not waver in our protection of that diversity and freedom. If we waver on the First Amendment, all of our constitutional rights, like free speech, freedom of assembly, and many others, become at risk.
The Framers saw the possibility for the kind of conflict Bernie Sanders ignited and did everything they could to stop it. As James Madison, the chief architect of the Constitution, observed, “A zeal for different opinions concerning religion” has throughout history “inflamed [men] with mutual animosity, and rendered them much more disposed to vex and oppress each other, than to co-operate for their common good.” To stop those divisions, the Framers made it clear in the U.S. Constitution that there was to be no “religious test” and deferred to the states (many of which had state religions at the time) if they wanted to demand orthodoxy as a condition of public service.
What Bernie Sanders is doing is imposing his own test, a reverse religious test — that people have no religious convictions. But that was never what the Founders intended. It was John Adams, after all, who said: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious People. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” If anyone’s on the wrong side of that equation, it’s Bernie Sanders — not the millions of Christians whose faith this nation was founded on. Join the 46,669 other Americans who are demanding an apology from Sanders for his bigotry. Sign our petition here and ask his colleagues to pledge that they won’t oppose nominees on the basis of their religious views.
Originally published here.
Rainbow Blight: State and Defense Fly LGBT Colors
The problem at the U.S. Embassy in Romania wasn’t that officials were saluting the flag. The problem was which flag they were saluting. In a tradition most Americans hoped was gone with President Obama, a handful of U.S. diplomats decided to fly the rainbow flag on par with the stars and stripes that millions have died defending.
The jarring sight in Guatemala, Cuba, Macedonia, the Dominican Republican, and other countries was just more evidence of the politically correct mess left behind by the last administration. Although President Trump refused to declare June LGBT pride month, plenty of Obama holdovers are taking matters into their own hands. Out of respect for the voters who rejected that extreme agenda, it’s time for administration officials to step in and put a stop to a display that puts a sexual fringe on the same pole as Old Glory.
And unfortunately, the State Department isn’t the only agency bucking the White House’s values this June. Yesterday, the Pentagon carried on a tradition President Obama began in 2012, holding a special “pride” event at the same time that other military leaders are ready to turn the page on eight years of social engineering. It was a disappointing development for conservatives, who thought they had an ally in new Defense Secretary James Mattis. FRC’s Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin (U.S. Army-Ret.) was vocal about his displeasure. “I was hoping that the Trump administration would put less emphasis on everything that does not contribute directly to enhanced readiness and war fighting.”
Leaders of the Conservative Action Project echoed General Boykin’s frustrations. In a letter signed by dozens of organizations, the group calls on the White House to intervene. “The Trump administration should discontinue funding and directing personnel resources for special-interest events, including LGBT-Pride Month events in June, which do not strengthen military readiness… We will support officials and initiatives taken to end politically-correct social agendas, and look forward to more changes that will strengthen the armed forces and restore America’s military readiness.” The Obama administration worked from Kenya to El Salvador — not to advance his country’s priorities, but the 44th president’s radical social agenda. It’s time for Donald Trump to take a wrecking ball to the LGBT distractions of his predecessor and turn the page on policies that offend more people than they “honor.”
Originally published here.
This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Mr. Perkins is president of FRC.