Fearless Questions

Following our Questions to Freedom

Bernie Sanders Has Something to Say

Have you watched this exchange between Senator Bernie Sanders and deputy budget director nominee Russell Vought? 

I think you should. 

And try to observe what’s really happening…not just what fits your preconceived narrative.

Many are decrying the idea of Sanders invoking a religious test for an elected official as illegal.  Others are suggesting that while Sanders is violating the spirit of the Constitution…there really is no legal issue with not supporting a nominee for any reason.

But before anyone simply yells about a leftist ‘out to get’ Christians…I think this exchange is a really helpful conversation piece that we can all learn from.  Can I offer my opinion on a few things?

  1. I think Sanders genuinely believes that he is looking out for people who, in his opinion, might be mistreated or discriminated against because of the theological implications of someone’s faith.  We do well to recognize this. 
  2. There is context to Vought’s writing that is being challenged.  A piece that was written to add voice to a well-documented conversation about whether Christians and Muslims worship the same God.  (There is a lot written on this and opinions vary.  Nabeel Qureshi wrote a book recently ‘No God but One…Allah or Jesus?’ that addresses this issue.  A former Muslim turned Christian, Nabeel investigates this issue from both perspectives.  Even if you don’t agree with Nabeel’s conclusions, it will at least introduce you to broader issues in the comparative conversation of Islam and Christianity.)
  3. Christians need to own the implications of their stated beliefs.  Vought handled himself well during this exchange…and as many Christians will point out, his Christian beliefs should also compel him to treat all human beings with dignity and respect.  And yet…Bernie does point out the legitimate harsh consequence of a Christian claim that everyone apart from Jesus Christ is going to hell.  I’m not trying to argue that with you…I’m just saying Bernie is stating the obvious.  You’ll have to own that.
  4. While Sanders seems well-intentioned in his protection of people with different worldviews, he unintentionally reveals the limits of religious pluralism.  Most people seem to agree that it is important for people to offer space and grace for other’s religious beliefs…and to not force one’s religion on someone else.  Fair enough.  But…what happens when anyone claims to know the truth?  It immediately excludes anyone else with a competing truth claim.  The truth after all…is exclusive by nature.  So…Bernie, whether intentionally or not, seems to be pushing for a more areligious political system.  Which for many sounds good…although I wonder how realistic (or helpful) that really is.  In this case…Bernie comes off essentially as asking Vought to offer a defense of the Christian faith with sound-bite answers.  Even many Islamic scholars, while holding a different view, would offer more space for conversation on this.  Not Bernie’s finest moment…but again…you can appreciate what seems to be the heart of an advocate behind his summation.
  5. Christians who come out swinging at Sanders for his religious intolerance should give pause.  It’s possible the reactive vitriol that many Christians display is the exact concern Bernie has for the minority group that Vought declares his respect for. 

That’s just a few of my observations.

What did you think about it?



Bernie Sanders questions Russell Vought:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VW6CTlpxUb8

Nabeel Qureshi book: https://www.amazon.com/God-but-One-Investigates-Christianity/dp/0310522552/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1497017168&sr=8-1&keywords=nabeel+qureshi 

About Jeff Blackburn

Jeff Blackburn is a Spiritual Coach and passionate Truth-Seeker. An alumnus of Oxford University, Jeff is someone who advocates for Freedom and Fullness of Life for All. He believes Jesus offers good news for people everywhere today…not just eternity. Jeff is the Executive Director of Fearless Questions, Inc. and has spent the past 20 years working with people searching for God.