The shameful religious bigotry of Bernie Sanders and Chris Van Hollen
Jesus repeatedly states in the New Testament that salvation is obtained only by faith in Him. There have always been Christians who disagree with Him. In recent decades Roman Catholicism has broken with the apostolic tradition and taught that this might not be the case. Certainly, nobody is required to agree with the clear and consistent teaching of the New Testament. But His words are plain, and they are repeated over and over. Sen. Sanders' attack, and that of Sen. Van Hollen, thus is not merely an attack on Russell T. Vought, the president's nominee to be Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget. Everything they say about Mr. Vought they say about Jesus of Nazareth, and about the consensus of Christian teaching for two thousand years.
Sen. Sanders is Jewish. Sen. Van Hollen is an Episcopalian, a member of a denomination not exactly noted for its orthodoxy and in fact currently under suspension by the worldwide Anglican Communion for violating the teachings of historic Christianity by sanctioning same-sex church marriages. To be charitable (and I think realistic), I believe that the senators have taken their position out of ignorance rather than malice. Very likely neither of them is well acquainted with the teachings of historic Christianity, much less with the New Testament. It's a kind of ignorance that is widespread on the Left, leading to some fairly bizarre applications of the principle of the separation of church and state and grave difficulty for the rest of us in engaging "progressives" in meaningful and intelligent discussions on issues relating to it. That's even before you deal with the fact that, by their logic, it was a violation of the separation of church and state to free the slaves or pass civil rights legislation since the Abolitionist movement and the Civil Rights movement were largely inspired by the Christian convictions of their supporters!
That is an explanation and one that goes a long way toward minimizing the ugliness of the performance the two senators put on at the Senate Budget Committee hearing on Mr. Vought's nomination. But it does not excuse it. Whether they realized or intended it or not, Senators Sanders and Van Hollen have imposed a religious test on public office in violation of Article VI of the U.S. Constitution, and as long as they persist in doing so, they are in violation of their oath of office.
They should be required by the Senate- indeed, by the very American values Sen. Sanders invokes in his perhaps understandable ignorance- to apologize to Mr, Voight and to the millions of American Christians who, whether the senators agree with them or not, have every right to prefer the the teachings of Jesus Christ to beliefs that Senators Sanders and Van Hollen might find more congenial.
There is no place in America for the kind of religious intolerance the two senators displayed toward either Mr. Voight or the rest of us who regard Jesus as a religious authority superior to Sen. Sanders and Sen. Van Hollen.