Posted by: mystic444 | June 21, 2017

Bernie Sanders and Religious Tests

In the 2016 Democratic Presidential primary, I supported Bernie Sanders. When he conceded defeat and promptly gave his allegiance to Hillary Clinton, I was deeply disappointed and switched my support to the Green Party (candidate Jill Stein). However, I still admired Mr. Sanders for most of his political positions.


Recently, though – approximately 2 weeks ago – Bernie committed a serious violation of the U.S. Constitution when he was questioning Russell Vought concerning his eligibility for the office of deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget: he made Mr. Vought’s religious views a test of his eligibility.


In addition to the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights of the Constitution – which provides that Congress may not establish religion, and guarantees the freedom of religious belief and practice to all citizens – paragraph 3 of Article 6 of the Constitution has this to say:


The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States. 


“No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States”; but that is precisely what Bernie Sanders sought to do!


In January of 2016, Russell Vought had written in defense of Wheaton College – where he had himself studied – when they fired Professor Larycia Hawkins because she maintained that Christians and Muslims believe in and worship the same God. Wheaton maintained that this was contrary to its statement of faith. Mr. Vought – along with the majority of Wheaton’s faculty – maintained that this idea that Christians and Muslims believe in the same God is most certainly not true, that Muslim theology is seriously deficient, and Muslims stand condemned before God.


(I wrote an article about this controversy, disagreeing with Wheaton and reproducing an article by Dan Martin giving a Christian rebuttal of Wheaton’s position. However whether or not Mr. Vought and Wheaton are correct in their viewpoint is not relevant for this article.)


Note that this was entirely a religious controversy. Neither Wheaton nor Russell was calling on the government or police to take action against Muslims. If Russell agrees with Buffoon-in-Chief Trump’s Muslim ban, (and perhaps he does, since he is a Trump nominee) that might indeed raise questions concerning his qualification for public office; but his beliefs about the acceptability of Muslim theology and Muslims’ standing before God – no matter how absurd they are – most emphatically do NOT constitute a test for qualification for office!


Bernie Sanders, in defending his ‘test’, said “racism and bigotry – condemning an entire group of people because of their faith – cannot be part of any public policy.” That is certainly true; but Russell Vought was not establishing – or seeking to establish – public policy. This was religious policy at a Christian College. Mr. Vought has an inalienable right to voice his opinion on that matter, whether in agreement with or in opposition to it, without endangering his eligibility for office. If he should ever bring that religious opinion up as a reason to establish governmental action against Muslims, he would then be in violation of the Constitution and subject to disqualification for office. So long as it remains only a religious belief, serving perhaps as a basis to engage in ‘evangelization’ of Muslims – seeking their conversion “for the good of their never-dying souls” – it has no business being brought up in political controversy.


Mr. Sanders has seriously violated the Constitution in this matter, and should be reprimanded.


[Let it be understood that I not only do not agree with Russell Vought’s religious ideas, I think they’re absurd. I do not believe in a “personal” God, salvation and condemnation, heaven and hell. I believe in reincarnation – we are ‘souls’ or ‘spirits’ without beginning or ending, continually evolving and progressing. But I emphatically defend the right of Mr. Vought, and everyone else, to disagree with me and maintain their own religious convictions without fear of political or legal reprisal.]



  1. You believe in reincarnation? I find your spiritual journey broad and winding. I hope it takes you where you want to go. 🙂

    • Yes, I think “broad and winding” makes a good description. 🙂 Reincarnation, though, was one of my first “new” beliefs after I abandoned my evangelical Christian beliefs around 30 years ago. One of the ‘categories’ listed on the right side of my blog is “Universalism/Reincarnation”, and some of my earliest blog posts dealt with my thinking on this subject.

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