The US Senate Budget Committee will hold an extremely important hearing on June 3rd to consider the nomination of Russell Vought to be Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). This is a critical position, heading the largest office within the Executive Office of the President, the agency responsible for preparing and overseeing the implementation of the federal budget.
If the past is prologue, Bernie Sanders’ outright bigotry and hostility to qualified Christian nominees will once again be on display. Sanders is the Ranking Democrat on the Senate Budget Committee. I expect his bigotry to be echoed by other far left members of the committee.
There can be no legitimate question as to whether Russ Vought is qualified to hold this important position. He has a distinguished, two-decade long career in positions of tremendous importance on Capitol Hill including extensive experience with federal budget issues. In 2017, he was appointed as Deputy Director of OMB, and has been serving as Acting Director of the office since January, 2019.
I have known Russ Vought for many years, including from his work heading the Republican Study Committee as well as his work at Heritage Action, the grassroots network of the Heritage Foundation. I know Russ to be a smart, principled and deeply-faithful man. In fact, it is his faith that has gotten him in trouble with the likes of Bernie Sanders and others on the left. It is because he holds traditional, mainstream Christian views on important issues that his opponents have made him a target of their anti-Christian bigotry.
Russ is a graduate of Wheaton College, a proud Christian university that requires its faculty and student body to subscribe to a statement of faith that guides the university as an academic community of faith. Naturally, that statement of faith holds that eternal salvation is attained through belief in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Such belief is at the core of Christianity. But it is also at odds with the bigots in the US Senate.
Several years ago, a professor was dismissed by Wheaton College because she professed a view of salvation advanced by many Muslims that was at odds with traditional Christian orthodoxy and the Wheaton statement of faith. As a Christian university, Wheaton surely has the right to retain professors that subscribe to their beliefs as outlined in their statement of faith, which this professor signed.
Russ Vought, speaking as an individual and not as part of any group, wrote an article for The Resurgent (a website founded by fellow conservative Erick Erickson) defending Wheaton College’s right to dismiss this professor, and reiterated the Christian viewpoint that those who reject Jesus as Lord and Savior stand condemned. It is that defense that has the bigots in the Senate up in arms.
During his confirmation hearing as Deputy Director of OMB, Vought was harshly challenged by Sen. Sanders over his religious views, demanding to know whether he thought that Muslims were “condemned.” Mr. Vought responded that his comments were made in defense of Wheaton’s statement of faith which includes the centrality of Jesus Christ for salvation. Sanders persisted, sometimes shouting, demanding to know if all Muslims and even Jews were similarly condemned. Mr. Vought sought to put the comments into context, pointing out that as a Christian he believed that all people are made in the image of God, and are worthy of dignity and respect regardless of religious beliefs. Sanders was having none of it, proposing that his nomination be rejected because his religious views were unacceptable. “[Russell Vought] is really not someone who this country is supposed to be about.”
This kind of religious bigotry is ugly, unacceptable and unconstitutional.
Whether you agree or disagree with Christian theology concerning salvation, we should all agree on this: a person’s religious views should have nothing to do with their ability to serve in government. In fact, Article VI of the US Constitution prohibits the imposition of any religious test to hold public office.
Sadly, this is far from the first instance where Christians nominated to serve in office have been opposed because of their religious beliefs. Sen. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland also criticized Director Vought’s qualifications to help lead the OMB based on his religious beliefs. You may recall that Sen. Dianne Feinstein opposed the confirmation of Amy Garrett, a faithful Catholic nominated to the federal judiciary saying, “The dogma lives loudly within you.” And Sen. Cory Booker has made a frequent habit of opposing Christian nominees to high-ranking positions in government because they hold traditional Christian views on issues such as marriage and human sexuality, including Mike Pompeo’s nomination to be Secretary of State, and the nomination of Neomi Rao to the federal appeals court.
It is time for this ugly, unacceptable and unconstitutional practice in the US Senate to come to an end. Please sign our petition to the Senate Budget Committee demanding they cease the use of religious bigotry to derail otherwise highly-qualified nominees to high office. Russ Vought is supremely qualified to be Director of the Office of Management and Budget, and he should be quickly confirmed by the committee next week.