The Atlantic

Bernie Sanders's Religious Test for Christians in Public Office

During a contentious confirmation hearing, the Vermont senator questioned the faith of the nominee for deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget.
Source: Yuri Gripas / Reuters

Updated on June 8 at 11:40 a.m.

Article VI of the U.S. Constitution states that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” On Wednesday, Senator Bernie Sanders flirted with the boundaries of this rule during a confirmation hearing for Russell Vought, President Trump’s nominee for deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget.

Sanders took issue with a piece Vought wrote in January 2016 about a fight at the nominee’s alma mater, Wheaton College. The Christian school had fired a political-science professor, Larycia Hawkins, for a Facebook post intended to express solidarity with Muslims. Vought disagreed with Hawkins’s post and defended the school in an article for the conservative website The Resurgent. During the hearing, Sanders repeatedly quoted one passage that he found particularly objectionable:

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 my view, the statement

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Atlantic

The Atlantic5 min readPolitics
How Stressed Is Iran?
The Iranian people are, for the first time in decades, worried about whether the leaders who have been their captors are not also their protectors.
The Atlantic4 min read
My Time With the British Aristocracy
As a black American woman married to a member of Britain’s upper class, I have caught just a glimpse of Meghan Markle’s world.
The Atlantic6 min readPolitics
Progressives Warn of a Great Deflation
“Please don’t make me vote for Joe Biden!” a flock of teenagers pleaded in a series of videos posted to the social-media app TikTok earlier this month. But as the Iowa caucuses draw closer, a Biden nomination is looking more likely by the day. Lefty