Jonathon van Maren

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Bernie’s comments on Christians weren’t just arrogant … they were unconstitutional

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June 13, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — While the fact that anti-Christian sentiment — and certainly contempt — underlies and animates the views of the progressive elites is no secret to anyone, rarely has there been an articulation of that bigotry as brazen as the meltdown of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders during the confirmation hearing of President Trump nominee Russell Vought. Red-faced and shouting, Sanders demanded to know how exactly Vought could possibly believe what orthodox Christians have always believed — and then pronounced him unfit for office as the result of those beliefs.

Vought, in case you were wondering, was not being appointed to any position in which he might have rule over hapless atheists or adherents to more exotic religions, either. He was nominated for the rather boring position of Deputy Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget. Sanders, in a stunning display of stupidity and avarice, took that as an opportunity to interrogate him on commonly-known tenets of Christianity and then berate him for them:

Sanders: Let me get to this issue that has bothered me and bothered many other people. And that is in the piece that I referred to that you wrote for the publication called Resurgent. You wrote, “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.” Do you believe that that statement is Islamophobic?

Vought: Absolutely not, Senator. I’m a Christian, and I believe in a Christian set of principles based on my faith. That post, as I stated in the questionnaire to this committee, was to defend my alma mater, Wheaton College, a Christian school that has a statement of faith that includes the centrality of Jesus Christ for salvation, and…

Sanders: I apologize. Forgive me, we just don’t have a lot of time. Do you believe people in the Muslim religion stand condemned? Is that your view?

Vought: Again, Senator, I’m a Christian, and I wrote that piece in accordance with the statement of faith at Wheaton College: Sanders: I understand that. I don’t know how many Muslims there are in America. Maybe a couple million. Are you suggesting that all those people stand condemned? What about Jews? Do they stand condemned too?

Vought: Senator, I’m a Christian …

Sanders (shouting): I understand you are a Christian, but this country are made of people who are not just — I understand that Christianity is the majority religion, but there are other people of different religions in this country and around the world. In your judgment, do you think that people who are not Christians are going to be condemned?

Vought: Thank you for probing on that question. As a Christian, I believe that all individuals are made in the image of God and are worthy of dignity and respect regardless of their religious beliefs. I believe that as a Christian that’s how I should treat all individuals…

Sanders: You think your statement that you put into that publication, they do not know God because they rejected Jesus Christ, His Son, and they stand condemned, do you think that’s respectful of other religions?

Vought: Senator, I wrote a post based on being a Christian and attending a Christian school that has a statement of faith that speaks clearly in regard to the centrality of Jesus Christ in salvation. 

Sanders: I would simply say, Mr. Chairman, that this nominee is really not someone who this country is supposed to be about. 

There are a few things to notice here, the first of which has already been discussed in great detail: the fact that Sanders, in the words of one journalist over at The Atlantic, “flirted with the boundaries” of Article VI of the U.S. Constitution, which states that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” Progressives — not to mention overtly socialist ones — have no respect for the U.S. Constitution, so that should be no surprise. But the fact remains that Sanders attempted to use the fictitious boogeyman of “Islamophobia” (which would, by definition, be the fear or hatred of a certain set of ideas) to disqualify a Christian with run-of-the-mill Christian beliefs from a government job.

Besides the fact that Sanders violated the Constitution, what really stands out from his interaction with Vought (whose poise in the face of Sanders’ bizarre behavior was admirable) is his stunning ignorance concerning what Christianity teaches. A few short years ago, even schoolchildren would have been aware of the fact that all Christians believe the Lord Jesus to be “the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh to the Father, but by me.” That Sanders finds this offensive is no surprise. But that he did not know it is quite mind-boggling. Sanders may feel that mere Christian orthodoxy is disqualifying for public office. Most good socialists would think so. But that he is unaware of the centrality of Jesus Christ to salvation in the faith that shaped the United States, in whose halls of power he now bumbles about? That is closer to being disqualifying based simply on the ludicrousness of the ignorance.

Moving beyond Sanders’ ignorance of the most basic tenets of the Christian faith, of course, there is his utter disconnect from the history of the nation he claims to serve. Someone who holds that Jesus Christ is essential to salvation, he says, is a bigot and “is really not someone who this country is supposed to be about.” America’s much-maligned (and apparently little-read) founding documents, the lives and words of the Founding Fathers, and much of her subsequent history all attest to the essential nature of Christianity in the creation and flourishing of the Republic. But we must give Sanders a pass here, of course — how can one expect a self-confessed socialist to simultaneously have any fascination with history?

Sanders’ rude torrent of ignorance was laughable, but also worrisome. Progressive men and women cut off from the Judeo-Christian roots of Western Civilization — indeed, men and women who despise Western Civilization — increasingly see Christian beliefs as disqualifying for participation in the public square. Their ignorance is dangerous, because it is fervent and passionate ignorance unmarred by any doubt or self-reflection. Sanders, for example, must not have even stopped for a moment to consider the fact that his accusations were leveled at Christianity, but any religion with universalist claims is exclusionary. Sanders, like his co-ideologues, does not understand religion, and so he merely sees it through the pseudo-Marxist lens he uses to analyze the rest of his world. His views, unfortunately, are spreading among the elites. Christians must watch these developments and be warned.

 

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Jonathon van Maren

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Jonathon Van Maren is a public speaker, writer, and pro-life activist. His commentary has been translated into more than eight languages and published widely online as well as print newspapers such as the Jewish Independent, the National Post, the Hamilton Spectator and others. He has received an award for combating anti-Semitism in print from the Jewish organization B’nai Brith. His commentary has been featured on CTV Primetime, Global News, EWTN, and the CBC as well as dozens of radio stations and news outlets in Canada and the United States.

He speaks on a wide variety of cultural topics across North America at universities, high schools, churches, and other functions. Some of these topics include abortion, pornography, the Sexual Revolution, and euthanasia. Jonathon holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in history from Simon Fraser University, and is the communications director for the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform.

Jonathon’s first book, The Culture War, was released in 2016.

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