Can Christians Serve in Bernie Sanders’s Amerika?
Bernie Sanders does not believe that orthodox Christians should be able to hold high office in the government of the United States. Sanders made this clear when voicing his opposition to confirmation of Russell Vought, President Trump’s nominee for deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget. Sanders took umbrage at an op-ed Vought wrote surrounding a controversy at Wheaton College. The comment Sanders focused on is as follows: “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.”
A little background helps. Back in 2015 Larycia Hawkins, an associate professor at Wheaton, donned a Muslim headscarf to show solidarity with Muslims and then declared that “Muslims and Christians worship the same God.” For this comment she was suspended because it was contrary to the College’s statement of faith, which in pertinent part declares, “WE BELIEVE in one sovereign God, eternally existing in three persons: the everlasting Father, His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, and the Holy Spirit, the giver of life; . . . all who receive the Lord Jesus Christ by faith are born again of the Holy Spirit and thereby become children of God and are enabled to offer spiritual worship acceptable to God.” Hawkins and Wheaton eventually agreed to part ways.
Vought is a Wheaton alum and took up his pen to support his alma mater’s stand on salvation through faith in Christ alone. It is simply orthodox Christian teaching that Christians and Muslims do not worship the same God, and because of Muslim rejection of the atoning death and resurrection of Christ, Muslims are still at enmity of God and can lay no claim to the penal substitutionary work of Jesus. Reformed scholar and pastor Richard Phillips has this helpful article on the matter.
Back to Sanders. Here’s what he says about Vought’s defense of orthodox Christian teaching:
In my view, the statement made by Mr. Vought is indefensible, it is hateful, it is Islamophobic, and it is an insult to over a billion Muslims throughout the world. This country, since its inception, has struggled, sometimes with great pain, to overcome discrimination of all forms ... we must not go backwards.
Ultimately Sanders concluded: “I would simply say, Mr. Chairman, that this nominee is really not someone who is what this country is supposed to be about. I will vote no.”
In other words, if you hold to orthodox Christian teaching, you are unfit to hold an appointed office in the US—at least in Bernie Sanders’ Amerika. And remember that over 13 million folks voted for Sanders in the Democratic Primary.
The Atlantic points out that “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,'” and implies that Sanders is flirting with violating this basic tenet.
It seems to me the test Sanders wants to impose is one that is congruent with modern, secular humanism. There is no real truth, all religions point in the same direction, and true worship is only due to the god of diversity.
Christianity’s claim that Christ is the only true way to the Father offends Sanders just as the ancient Romans were offended by followers of the Way who refused to accept that there were many gods who were equal with Jehovah. These early Christians eventually faced massive persecution and many lost their lives because of adherence to Christ alone.
Of course, modern America is not ancient Rome, but Bernie Sanders and his comrades are certainly pushing us in a familiar direction. In his desire to “overcome discrimination,” Sanders would discriminate and push orthodox Christians out of public service.
These are scary times for religious liberty.
William J. Watkins, Jr. is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute and the author of the Independent book, Crossroads for Liberty: Recovering the Anti-Federalist Values of America’s First Constitution.