Sanders Rips Into Trump Budget Nominee for Past Christian Writings

June 7, 2017

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) on Wednesday slammed White House deputy budget director nominee Russell Vought for his January 2016 post calling Islam a "deficient theology."

Sanders quoted a letter of condemnation from the Arab American Institute, Bend the Arc Jewish Action, and Muslim Advocates, who say that Vought "denigrated American Muslims and Muslim faith" and that he has exhibited "hostility" not worthy of the position he's been nominated for.

"This is the fundamental problem. 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," Vought wrote in The Resurgent, a Conservative blog.

Sanders, in a clip reported by HuffPost asked Vought whether he thought that quote was Islamophobic.

"Absolutely not," Vought said. "I’m a Christian, and I believe in a Christian set of principles based on my faith. That post … was to defend my alma mater, Wheaton College, a Christian school that has a statement of faith that includes the centrality of Jesus Christ for salvation."

Sanders interjected and said that the Senate Budget Committee did not have a lot of time, reiterating his question.

"Again, Senator, I’m a Christian," Vought began "and I wrote that piece …"

Sanders said that he understood Vought was a Christian in an annoyed tone before asking him whether he thought that Jewish people should be condemned too.

"Senator, I’m a Christian ...," Vought began before getting cut off.

"I understand that you are a Christian!" Sanders yelled. "But this country is made up 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. In your judgment, do you think that people who are not Christians are going to be condemned?"

Vought said that he appreciated Sanders' probing of the question and said that as a Christian, he believes that all individuals are "made in the image of God and are worthy of dignity and respect regardless of their religious beliefs."

Sanders asked Vought again whether his post was respectful of other religions since he said that they "stand condemned."

Vought reiterated his Christian stance, but Sanders was done listening and said that he was voting "no."

"I would simply say, Mr. Chairman, that this nominee is really not someone who is what this country is supposed to be about," Sanders said. "I will vote no."

A committee vote hasn't been scheduled yet, but if he is approved by the Senate Budget Committee and another Senate panel, then he will be ready for a full vote in the Senate.