I previously wrote a blog post where I shared a letter I wrote to the office of my Senator, Bernie Sanders. I was very concerned about his view of Christians after his unconstitutional line of questioning to nominee Russell Vought. You can read my letter here, and I promised that if Senator Sanders responded, I would publish his response in full for your evaluation and consideration. I truly do appreciate that I did receive a response that does seem to be more than a form letter. I want to make sure that I express my thanks to Senator Sanders for that without a doubt.
I will just say preliminarily that this letter itself is unfortunately not a great response because it does not at all admit that what he did was wrong. He seems to be implying that the many people who were upset over this simply misunderstood his line of questioning. I'm not going to go off on that tangent here, but if you agree with me, I do have a petition you can sign asking for an apology to the nominee for the unconstitutional application of a religious test. Please sign it and share it.
Here is the unabridged response I received today which, again, I thank Senator Sanders for.
Dear Mr. Schmoll:
Thank you for contacting me with your concerns about my questioning of Russell Vought during a Senate Budget Committee hearing. I am sorry to hear that you found my questions offensive, or biased against Mr. Vought’s religion. That was certainly not my intention.
As you know, President Trump nominated Mr. Vought to be Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget. In this role, Mr. Vought would oversee hundreds of federal employees. My chief concern was with how Mr. Vought would supervise these employees, given his previous remarks criticizing a professor at Wheaton College for expressing solidarity with Muslims.
I understand that many Christians share Mr. Vought’s view of salvation, and that it is an article of faith for them. I thought Mr. Vought had crossed a line, however, with the inflammatory language he chose to use about Muslims. As Ranking Member of the Budget Committee, it is my duty to ensure that, if confirmed, he would treat OMB employees fairly and without prejudice as to their religious beliefs. In my view, his past statement cast doubt on his ability to carry out that critical part of his potential job.
It was not my intention to criticize Mr. Vought’s faith. I fully agree that we must uphold freedom of religion, as expressed by both the First Amendment and Article VI’s ban on religious tests for government office.
Thank you again for contacting me, and please feel free to stay in touch about this or any other subject of interest to you. For up-to-date information on what I am working on, please sign-up for my e-newsletter, the Bernie Buzz, at http://sanders.senate.gov/buzz/.
United States Senator