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.

Attorney

 

 

The Honorable Colin A. Hanna

President

Let Freedom Ring, Inc.

 

David Bozell

President

ForAmerica

 

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

President

Americans for Limited Government

 

Brian S. Brown

President

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

President

The Martin Foundation

 

Evelio Silvera

Campaign for the American Future

 

Nicholas Stehle 

Campaign for the American Future

Anthony Allen

President

Hannibal LaGrange University

 

Barry Creamer

President

Criswell College

 

Shawn A. Mitchell 

National Chaplain,

National Federation of Republican Assemblies

 

Jerry Melvin 

President

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

Chairman

National Legal and Policy Center

 

Gary Marx

Former Executive Director

Faith & Freedom Coalition

 

Sean Noble

President

American Encore

 

Belden Bell

Co-Chair

Heritage Legacy Society

Gary L. Bauer

President

American Values

 

Lee A. Beaman

Chief Executive Officer

Beaman Automotive

Donna Hearne

Chief Executive Officer

The Constitutional Coalition

 

Khadine Ritter

President

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

Founder

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

President

Mosbacher Interests

 

Jerome R. Corsi

Washington Bureau Chief

Infowars.com

 

Karen England

Executive Director, Capitol Resource

Institute & Nevada Family Alliance

 

Anthony Saliba

Director

Saliba Venture Management

 

Penna Dexter

Co-host

Point of View Radio

 

Bill Dallas

CEO

United in Purpose

 

Tim LeFever

Chairman

Capitol Resource Institute

 

Austin Ruse

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

 

Caroline Camden Lewis

Owner

Percipio Communications

 

Michael R. Long

State Chairman

NYS Conservative Party

 

Willes K. Lee

President, National Federation of Republican Assemblies

 

Eunie Smith

President

Eagle Forum

 

Floyd Brown

Chairman

Western Center for Journalism

 

The Honorable Mike Hill

Former Member

Florida State House

Forest Thigpen

President

Mississippi Center for Public Policy

 

Joseph A. Morris

Morris & De La Rosa

 

Col Francis X. De Luca USMCR(Ret)

President

Civitas Institute

 

Anne Schlafly Cori

Chairman

Eagle Forum

The Honorable Ken Cuccinelli II   

President

Senate Conservatives Fund

 

James O’Hickey

Nutrition Sales

AdvoCare

Melvin Adams

Past President

RENEWANATION

 

Tim Wildmon           

President

American Family Association

Dan Weber    

Founder & CEO

Association of Mature American Citizens

 

Bob Carlstrom

President

The Carlstrom Group, LLC

Allen Hebert 

Chairman

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

President

Center for Military Readiness

The Honorable James C. Miller III

Former Director of OMB

President Ronald Reagan

Tom McClusky

President

March for Life Action

David N. Bossie

President

Citizens United

Ted Baehr

Worth Awareness Marketing

Joseph R. Gregory

CEO

Gregory Mgt. Co.

Ali Akbar

Senior Advisor

BlackConservativesFund.com

Andrea Lafferty

President

Traditional Values Coalition

Randy M. Long

CEO

Long Business Advisors, LLC

Penny Young Nance

CEO and President

Concerned Women for America

John R. Dodd

President

The Jesse Helms Center

Susan A. Carleson

Chairman/CEO

American Civil Rights Union

John F. Tate

President

America’s Liberty PAC

Elizabeth G. Tate

Executive Director

America’s Foundation for Law and Liberty

John McCardell

President

America’s Liberty Committee

Linda Lagemann

Commissioner

Citizens Commission in Human Rights

Michael Bowen

CEO

Coalition For a Strong America

Ralph A Rebandt II

Senior Pastor

Oakland Hills Community Church

Andresen Blom

Executive Director

Hawaii Christian Coalition

Ed Martin

President

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), https://www.budget.senate.gov/nomination-hearing-for-deputy-director_of-white-house-budget-office