Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) snapped at President Donald Trump’s nominee for deputy director of the White House Office of Management and Budget on Wednesday, repeatedly taking aim at Russell Vought’s views on Christian and Muslim theology.
At the center of Sanders’ furor was an article Vought wrote for the Resurgent back in January 2016 about the then-furious debate at Wheaton College over whether Muslims and Christians worship the same God — a popular, heated and seemingly never-ending dispute in theological circles.
“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,'” Sanders said to Vought’s during a hearing. “Do you believe that that statement is Islamophobic?”
Vought responded that he absolutely does not see the theological statement as Islamophobic, and explained that he is a Christian who embraces “a Christian set of principles based on my faith.” But as he attempted to place the article in context, Sanders interrupted and said “we just don’t have a lot of time” before asking whether Vought believes Muslims “stand condemned.”
Once again, Vought tried to explain that his article was based on his Christian faith as well as the evangelical statement of faith that is embraced by Wheaton College.
Sanders, though, continued to ask whether the nominee believes that Muslims stand condemned and whether he believes the same about Jews. Vought started his response with, “I’m a Christian,” but before he got any further, Sanders began shouting.
“I understand you are a Christian, but this country are made of people who are not just — I understand that Christianity is the majority religion, but there are other people of different religions in this country and around the world,” he snapped. “In your judgment, do you think that people who are not Christians are going to be condemned?”
Watch it all unfold below:
Vought, who remained composed, thanked Sanders for “probing” further into the matter, and proceeded to offer additional details about his faith, including his view that every human being is “made in the image of God” and is worthy of dignity and respect, regardless of what people believe about God and theology.
Sanders apparently wasn’t buying his proclamations, though.
“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?” he asked, before proclaiming that he won’t vote for Vought. “I would simply say, Mr. Chairman, that this nominee is really not someone who this country is supposed to be about.”
Some have said that Sanders’ line of questioning unconstitutionally created a religious test. Votes for Vought’s nomination have not yet been scheduled.