We live in a time when our basic constitutional rights are being redefined. This is a time when free speech can be seen as a crime and when sincerely held religious conviction could be enough of a reason to disqualify an individual from public office. A perfect example of this happened just last week during a Senate confirmation hearing.

Last week, former Heritage Action Vice President of Grassroots and Policy, Russ Vought, had his Senate confirmation hearing for the position of Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget in President Trump’s administration. 

In his hearing, Russ – who has a reputation as a principled conservative, well-equipped and favored for the position for which he was nominated – came under fire from Senator Bernie Sanders–not for his qualifications, but for his Christian convictions.

According to Article VI of the Constitution, “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”

As this report by the Daily Signal points out:

Religious tests for holding public office are banned in the Constitution and go against the very core of the American tradition.

But you wouldn’t have learned that on Wednesday listening to Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., as he questioned Russ Vought, the nominee for deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget.

His questioning of Vought was nothing less than theological interrogation, and in the end, excoriation.

Watch the exchange between Sanders and Vought below:

Russ has been with our sister organization, Heritage Action, since it’s inception in 2010. Russ’ wife, Mary, currently works for The Heritage Foundation and his family has been a significant part of the Heritage family for years. 

In his role at Heritage Action, he oversaw the building and management of America’s leading conservative grassroots activist army that keeps Congress accountable to the American people. We are extremely thankful for Russ’ leadership at Heritage Action and for his courageous conservative stance.

Why do you think Article VI’s requirement that no religious test be required as a qualification for public office is important? Did Senator Sanders violate Article VI in his questioning?

Comments (49)

Larry Sparks - June 16, 2017

This is what anybody could expect from an atheists like Bernie Sanders.

Troy Van Maaren - June 16, 2017

Senator Sanders absolutely violated Article IV and demonstrated that only his view points are the allowed view points.

Joe LaROCCA - June 16, 2017

Bernie Sanders is way out of line. He had no right or reason to question religious beliefs. The Constitution protects us from such interrogation and discrimination

Linda Carpenter - June 16, 2017

People of any religion should be considered for public service if they have the necessary qualifications to do the job.
Bernie was way overboard in his questions and comments. I like the law as it stands.

david Farnsworth - June 16, 2017

Bernie needs to move to Cuba where he can live happily for the rest of his miserable life.

J. Wheeler - June 16, 2017

Judge not lest ye be Judged!!!

Donna Donaldson - June 16, 2017

Being an atheist Bernie Sanders does not understand that being “condemned” means the Lord God will condemn those who do not accept Jesus Christ. Man does not condemn. Bernie has no right to harass Ross Vought for being a Christian. Bernie himself will stand before the Lord someday and be judged for his treatment of Ross.

Kathy Griggs - June 16, 2017

Bernie sanders took what mr. Vaught wrote out of context, and tried to use it to cause harm to mr vaught. I applaud mr Vaught in his responses to mr sanders, bernie is displaying his ignorance of the constitution.

Terry Craw - June 16, 2017

AS far as I am concerned, Bernie Sanders has no right to hold a seat in the Senate. His ideas are terrible and he had no right to go against the constitution of the United States. Bernie Sanders needs to be FIRED!

Beverly Jean - June 16, 2017

Yes, Bernie Sanders made a big mistake, by challenging a person’s religion. But it isn’t the first one he’s made.

Evan Tibbott - June 16, 2017

Bernie Sanders is way of line and has no right to question the religions affiliations of any candidate for public office. His actions, however, reflect, on a broader scale, what is essentially cultural civil war with roots going back decades, and predicated upon ‘political correctness’. In my viewpoint, he should not be serving in a position of public trust.

stephen palmer - June 16, 2017

So whats new ??? Most people think he is a crackpot and what he has to say is usually passed off as the rambling of the village idiot. This is so evident as he stomps on Article lV of the Constitution, in public no less. So my question is why is he in public office. People of his ilk should be on a potato farm away from public view. Will he be censored for his remarks…Hell no. they just ignore him.

Robert C. Biggio - June 16, 2017

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; – First line of the 1st AMENDMENT Bernie, you should try reading the Constitution it sort of goes along with your job !

Dr. Bill Shade - June 16, 2017

Bernie Sanders demonstrated his utter distain and hatred for Christianity and anyone bold enough to openly profess it. I was wondering what our founding fathers, or our first presidents would have thought if they could have heard his angry diatribe against the faith that first founded this country.

Russell Bloodgood - June 16, 2017

Senator B. Sanders is athiest/Jewish.. How would he like it if he were reprimanded for his beliefs, background, and religion of origin?? What if he was challenged for being too old and senile to be in the Senate??? It seems he does not remember the Constitution, has inappropriate prejudices, and has lost the ability to show respect to others in his daily duties.

G. Allan Barnes - June 16, 2017

I don’t think there should be a “religious” test to hold office. However, it’s becoming increasingly frequent to see nativity scenes banned from public places because of the establishment clause, which many contort to be an establishment of religion. To which I say, then establish your own nativity scene and leave us to our own. Sanders is a perfect example of a clueless left-wing loon. He’s also a prime example of walking fertilizer so it’s hard for me to care.

JOHN L PROCTOR - June 16, 2017

Yes Bernie Sanders did Violate Article IV that no requirement be made to hold public office. I don’t understand why is Bernie Sanders Islamicphobic in the sense that he seems to think that all People do not have have the right to believe in what ever religion they choose or not under the Constitution of The United States of America As long as they do not infringe on the rights of Others.

Sherman Reed - June 16, 2017

Yes. Bernie Sanders plus others on the committee for not speaking out in opposition violated the “Religious Test” Article. So sad that this can happen in the
House and Senate persons areas of responsibility.

Betty Chapman - June 17, 2017

Do they not have a parliamentarian or someone who should have stopped Senator Sander’s tirade against Mr. Vought and Christianity which was unconstitutional and has nothing to do with the qualifications necessary for the job for which he was seeking confirmation? Lord, help us.

Mark Galperin - June 17, 2017

What else did you expect from Senator Bernie Sanders?
If you have a violation of the constitution, just sue him…

Mark Galperin - June 17, 2017

What else did you expect from Senator Sanders?
If you have a violation of the Constitution, just sue him…

Katherine Hill - June 17, 2017

I was thoroughly disappointed in Sanders
response. He had no right to criticize Mr. Vought in the way he did. He looked very ridiculous. It made me look at him in a
new light….and it wasn’t favorable.

Marguerite Potter - June 17, 2017

Russ needed to push back with “what does this question, which is AGAINST the Constitution, have to do with my qualifications for the job (& refer to atheists along with the Muslims and Jews, that ALL deserve respect, does Sen. Sanders respect Christians????)?

john palumbo - June 17, 2017

I think it’s Article VI not Article IV that prevents the religious test from being used. As far as BS is concerned what do you expect from a communist.

Michael Moore - June 17, 2017

Bernie Sanders is a hypocrite and an idiot. How is he even a Senator?

Virginia Stough - June 17, 2017

Bernie Sanders questioning was hateful, hypocritical & completely out of line. So typical of him & his party

Chuck Kale - June 17, 2017

We have to remember that Congress routinely exempts itself from numerous pieces of legislation regarding constitutional protection of many of our civil rights. Mr Sanders is only carrying on that tradition by eliminating an excellent candidate based on a total disregard of the man’s qualifications and then exasperating the situation by vetoing him based on his religious faith.

John Crews - June 17, 2017

Bernie Sanders should be removed from the committee for even bringing up religion.

Chan Bailey - June 17, 2017

Article IV follows the entire premise of our country’s founding – individual freedom. By requiring that no religious test be used in selecting people who would be in a position of public trust Article IV allows a trustworthy person of any religion to serve the citizens. It makes it harder for the government to establish a state religion or outlaw a religion. It creates a platform for stronger unity rather than division. Sanders not only violated Article IV, he demonstrated why it is needed.

Thomas K. Mealy - June 17, 2017

Article IV prevents any religious group from taking control with in any establishment such as government. Bernie Sanders was way out of line as were those that allowed him to continue his questioning.

Alan Richardson - June 17, 2017

There can not be a religious test to hold office. It not only is contrary to American traditions, but would be a violation of the first amendment.

helen - June 17, 2017

yes & yes. Unfortunately , we get bombarded by this kind of absurd stuff from Bernie.

Judy Pepper - June 17, 2017

I wonder if Russ Vought had replied to Bernie Sanders , ” if I were here proclaiming to be a Muslim who adheres to the Koran which states all nonmuslims are infidels would your questioning be the same.?” Seriously when are we going to wake up and realize all it takes to destroy this country is for good men to do nothing.Didnt know of Mr. Vought before but was very inspired by his strong stand of faith in Christ!!
Realize you may not post this but needed to express these thoughts.

Ken Wicker - June 17, 2017

Sanders violated Article VI and must be censored and made to publicly apologize, and be removed from the committee for a period of one year.

Marc Rogers - June 17, 2017

God’s condemnation belongs to God, not to us. He became incarnate, in Jesus, to show us the way — in fact to provide the way — to eternal life for all mankind. For Christians, to water-down the truth of the gift of salvation rather than to proclaim that truth would be cruel. All people must hear the Word so that they may be saved. If we, as Christians, did not care about the salvation of nonbelievers, we would have no motivation to spread the Gospel. Poor Bernie clearly does not understand.

John Ross - June 17, 2017

Sanders did violate Article 4 requirement and he should be removed from this committee, if not from office.

Janelle Nowell - June 17, 2017

I have read that the Norse religion teaches the Norse persons of the Scandanavian countries that they are innocent of any and all they do. This includes murder and torture. I think there are many Norse persons living in the United States and I want them all deported. The Norse invaded England centuries ago and are now the royal monarchs Queen Elizabeth II and her family. Founders of America escaped the despotism of the monarchs after the invaded and came to this mainland with the permission of the native Indians here and began business and trade and houses and agriculture and the Continental Congresses and the 13 colonies and then the Norse British invaded in the 1700s and started the American Revolutionary War. I do not want them or their religion here. The declaration of independence from the Norse was declared and signed in 1776.

Barbara Leetun - June 18, 2017

Ditto – Joe LaRocca

George Blumel - June 18, 2017

All Communists are atheists and therefore Bernie believes that all religions are false. I assume that should apply to Muslims as well as Christians. Yet he uses Muslims as an excuse to condemn the Christian nominee. You can’t expect reason or fairness from the likes of Bernie. Of course, he violates the constitution here and in virtually all of his communistic positions.

Kathlyn Berger - June 19, 2017

Though a conservative, I have a different perception. Senator Sanders asked several times the same specific question that did not, in my opinion, suggest the question was “a religious litmus test”. He asked Mr. Vought if he believed non-Christians would not be saved by God or words to that affect expressed by Mr. Vought’s while in college..Mr. Vought could have responded differently rather than as he did. Mr. Vought did not, in fact, deny what he’d stated about non-believers fate. Thus, I don’t agree Senator Sanders’ question was a “religious” interrogation as much as an effort to establish that, as the United States is composed of people holding different religious beliefs, Mr. Vought was not biased.

John McDonough - June 19, 2017

It boggles my mind that Sanders holds any elected office and is allowed to sit a on a committee ignoring the rules of our country! Proof positive that “the Swamp” is in severe need of draining!

Esther Sidat - June 19, 2017

Could Ross Vought have refused to answer Bernie Sanders’ question by referring to Article IV ?

Janet Scaruffi - June 19, 2017

Bernie will soon find out because being he is of such an age now it won’t be too many more years to come as it will for me. Praise God and let’s all pray as Christians for Bernie so Jesus can rejoice and take his soul to rest when the time comes.

Roberta - June 19, 2017

This country was founded on religious freedom. Why was Bernie Sanders not called out and disciplined for violating the basic principles of our right of religious freedom as stated in the Constitution.

Henry C. Holder - June 20, 2017

Yes, Bernie Sanders violated Article IV but as a democrate that was natural.

Doug Kesler - June 21, 2017

We swear on the bible
We are a christian nation
Other religious beliefs are tolerated but not allowed in jobs that hold the public trust.
What happened to that law?

Author Kathleen Reynolds - June 22, 2017

Thank you, John Palumbo, for pointing out the typo in the Article number. This has since been corrected! It is Article VI that states, “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”

Michael Brown - July 15, 2017

Yes, and it is guaranteed under the Constitution of the United States.

George Danz - December 23, 2017

Since Religious Freedom is embodied in our Constitution, it is paramount to our freedoms under the constitution. Often if just ONE of our freedoms are ignored, it becomes very difficult to justify the others we hold dear.

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