Press Release Jun 8, 2017

Russell Moore criticizes Senator Bernie Sanders’ comments, calling them a religious test for office

NASHVILLE, Tenn., June 7, 2017—Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, lamented comments made Wednesday by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.), who cited religious beliefs as the reason he opposes the nomination of Russell Vought as Deputy Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget.

In response to Sanders, Moore said:

"Senator Sanders’ comments are breathtakingly audacious and shockingly ignorant—both of the Constitution and of basic Christian doctrine. Even if one were to excuse Senator Sanders for not realizing that all Christians of every age have insisted that faith in Jesus Christ is the only pathway to salvation, it is inconceivable that Senator Sanders would cite religious beliefs as disqualifying an individual for public office in defiance of the United States Constitution. No religious test shall ever be required of those seeking public office. While no one expects Senator Sanders to be a theologian, we should expect far more from an elected official who has taken an oath to support and defend the Constitution.”

In a 2016 blog post about a controversy over the theological beliefs of a professor at Wheaton College regarding whether Christians and Muslims worship the same God, Vought argued “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 response to questions from Sanders, Vought made clear that he believes “all individuals are made in the image of God and are worthy of dignity and respect regardless of their religious beliefs” and that the blog post was written in defense of “a Christian school that has a statement of faith that includes the centrality of Jesus Christ for salvation.”

Sanders called the comments “indefensible” and said, “It is hateful. It is Islamophobic. And it is an insult to over a billion Muslims throughout the world.” Sanders has said he will oppose Vought’s nomination and that Vought “is not someone who is what this country is supposed to be about.”