Stop Religious Intolerance


At the recent confirmation hearing of Office of Management and Budget deputy director nominee Russell Vought, Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT), joined by Sen. Chris van Hollen (D-MD) asked him a number of intrusive and openly hostile questions about his religious beliefs.[1] We find the manner in which these questions were asked, and even more so, their substance, to be not only extremely disturbing but unconstitutional.

Senators Sanders and van Hollen were apparently bothered by a past blog post of Vought’s in which he defended a religious school’s religious doctrine. Part of the post stated: “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.” In the hearing, Sanders asked Vought whether he really believed that Muslims and Jews and “people who are not Christians are going to be condemned.” When Vought emphasized that he was simply declaring long-held Christian truths while making a theological argument, Sanders interrupted and said his views weren’t very “respectful,” finally declaring Vought to be “not someone who this country is supposed to be about.”

Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) decided Sanders’ line of questioning was worthy and pursued Sen. Sanders same line of questioning, saying “No one is questioning your faith. … It’s your comments that suggest a violation of the public trust in what will be a very important position.”

These questions and comments are quite disturbing. What’s particularly alarming about them is they reveal Senator Sanders’ and van Hollen’s inability to discern between private religious beliefs and public policy. There was no mention of any possible public policy application of Vought’s beliefs, either at the hearing or in his record. There can be nothing in this exchange to which Sanders or van Hollen could object aside from the nature and substance of Vought’s personal beliefs which are, as Sen. Sanders pointed out in the hearing, held by a majority of the American people.

So, in addition to engaging in an unconstitutional religious test for public office, Sanders and van Hollen display dangerously imprecise and wrong-headed thinking that exclude from public service any person whose religious views the government doesn’t like.

The very founding of our country is anchored in the idea, set forth in the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution, that the federal government should not order compliance with any specific theology. Thus, if Sanders and van Hollen believe their theological views are permissible for a government official but that Vought’s are not, the creation of such a paradigm would “establish” a government religion and violate the very principle of the First Amendment these Senators claim to support.

Regardless, this incident shows that the singling out of private religious beliefs during a confirmation hearing has no place in America. Candidates for public office must be assessed on the policies they propose and their ability to serve the public good.  To do otherwise only furthers the type of bigotry which Sanders and van Hollen purport to condemn.



The Honorable Edwin Meese III

Former Attorney General

President Ronald Reagan


The Honorable Becky Norton Dunlop

Chairman, Conservative Action Project

Former White House Advisor, President Ronald Reagan


Tony Perkins MPA

President, Family Research Council

President, Council for National Policy


The Honorable Bob McEwen

U.S. House of Representatives

Former Member, Ohio


Michael A. Needham

Chief Executive Officer

Heritage Action for America


The Honorable David McIntosh

U.S. House of Representatives

Former Member, Indiana

Cleta Mitchell, Esq.




The Honorable Colin A. Hanna


Let Freedom Ring, Inc.


David Bozell




Ed Corrigan

Former Executive Director

Senate Steering Committee


The Honorable Jim DeMint

U.S. Senate

Former Member, South Carolina


William L. Walton

Vice President

Council for National Policy


The Honorable T. Kenneth Cribb, Jr.

Former Counselor

US Attorney General


Richard Manning


Americans for Limited Government


Brian S. Brown


National Organization for Marriage


Rod D. Martin

Founder & CEO

The Martin Organization, Inc.


Sherri R. Martin

Executive Vice President

The Martin Organization, Inc.


Haley E. Martin


The Martin Foundation


Evelio Silvera

Campaign for the American Future


Nicholas Stehle 

Campaign for the American Future

Anthony Allen


Hannibal LaGrange University


Barry Creamer


Criswell College


Shawn A. Mitchell 

National Chaplain,

National Federation of Republican Assemblies


Jerry Melvin 


Florida Republican Assembly


Robert K. Fischer 

Meeting Coordinator

Conservatives of Faith


Rebecca Hagelin

Board of Directors,

Dr. James Dobson’s Family Talk & Secretary, CNP

Ken Boehm


National Legal and Policy Center


Gary Marx

Former Executive Director

Faith & Freedom Coalition


Sean Noble


American Encore


Belden Bell


Heritage Legacy Society

Gary L. Bauer


American Values


Lee A. Beaman

Chief Executive Officer

Beaman Automotive

Donna Hearne

Chief Executive Officer

The Constitutional Coalition


Khadine Ritter


Eagle Forum of Ohio

Ralph Benko

Syndicated Columnist



E. Calvin Beisner, Ph.D.

Founder and National Spokesman,

Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation


William Pascoe

Managing Partner

Antietam Communications


Kevin Freeman


NSIC Institute


The Honorable Mike Spence

Founding President

Conservative Republicans of California


Bob Thompson

Former Administrator, The Weyrich Lunch

Independent Consultant


The Honorable Mica Mosbacher


Mosbacher Interests


Jerome R. Corsi

Washington Bureau Chief


Karen England

Executive Director, Capitol Resource

Institute & Nevada Family Alliance


Anthony Saliba


Saliba Venture Management


Penna Dexter


Point of View Radio


Bill Dallas


United in Purpose


Tim LeFever


Capitol Resource Institute


Austin Ruse

President, C–Fam (Center for Family & Human Rights)


Caroline Camden Lewis


Percipio Communications


Michael R. Long

State Chairman

NYS Conservative Party


Willes K. Lee

President, National Federation of Republican Assemblies


Eunie Smith


Eagle Forum


Floyd Brown


Western Center for Journalism


The Honorable Mike Hill

Former Member

Florida State House

Forest Thigpen


Mississippi Center for Public Policy


Joseph A. Morris

Morris & De La Rosa


Col Francis X. De Luca USMCR(Ret)


Civitas Institute


Anne Schlafly Cori


Eagle Forum

The Honorable Ken Cuccinelli II   


Senate Conservatives Fund


James O’Hickey

Nutrition Sales


Melvin Adams

Past President



Tim Wildmon           


American Family Association

Dan Weber    

Founder & CEO

Association of Mature American Citizens


Bob Carlstrom


The Carlstrom Group, LLC

Allen Hebert 


American-Chinese Fellowship of Houston


The Honorable Tim Goeglein

Vice President for External and Government Relations

Focus on the Family

Martha Boneta

Executive Vice President

Citizens for the Republic

Lewis K. Uhler

Founder and President

National Tax Limitation Committee

James C. Dobson Ph.D.

Founder & President

Family Talk

Elaine Donnelly


Center for Military Readiness

The Honorable James C. Miller III

Former Director of OMB

President Ronald Reagan

Tom McClusky


March for Life Action

David N. Bossie


Citizens United

Ted Baehr

Worth Awareness Marketing

Joseph R. Gregory


Gregory Mgt. Co.

Ali Akbar

Senior Advisor

Andrea Lafferty


Traditional Values Coalition

Randy M. Long


Long Business Advisors, LLC

Penny Young Nance

CEO and President

Concerned Women for America

John R. Dodd


The Jesse Helms Center

Susan A. Carleson


American Civil Rights Union

John F. Tate


America’s Liberty PAC

Elizabeth G. Tate

Executive Director

America’s Foundation for Law and Liberty

John McCardell


America’s Liberty Committee

Linda Lagemann


Citizens Commission in Human Rights

Michael Bowen


Coalition For a Strong America

Ralph A Rebandt II

Senior Pastor

Oakland Hills Community Church

Andresen Blom

Executive Director

Hawaii Christian Coalition

Ed Martin


Eagle Forum Education & Legal Defense Fund


(All organizations listed for IDENTIFICATION purposes only)


[1] Nomination Hearing for Deputy Director of White House Budget Office, U.S. Senate Committee on the Budget, June 7, 2017 (start viewing at the 44:20 mark),