DALLAS — Dr. Robert Jeffress, senior pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, releases the following statement in response to Senator Bernie Sanders’ application of an unconstitutional religious test to Russell Vought, President Trump’s nominee for deputy White House budget director:
“Senator Bernie Sanders, in declaring his intention to vote against Russell Vought because of his Evangelical Christian faith, has not only launched a direct attack against the Constitution by applying a religious test, he has also attacked tens of millions of Evangelicals, who embrace the same historical Christian beliefs as Vought.
This attack by Senator Sanders is abhorrent first of all because Article VI of our Constitution provides that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” Vought’s comments in a blog post, published in the context of a controversy at the Christian college from which he graduated, affirmed the words of Jesus Himself who said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Yet the affirmation of this core Christian doctrine led Sanders to conclude that Vought failed Sanders’ religious test: “I would simply say, Mr. Chairman, that this nominee is really not someone who is what this country is supposed to be about. I will vote no.” These words, and this sentiment, are not only unconstitutional, but unconscionable by a public official.
Second, this attack by Sanders is abhorrent because he has effectively said that Evangelicals, who make up 41 percent of the population of our country, are not qualified to serve in public office, and “not what this country is all about.” It seems that Secretary Clinton isn’t the only one who looks at our great country and sees a brimming basket of deplorables.
Because of this assault on the Constitution and on fully 41 percent of the American people, there are only two responsible courses of action for Senator Sanders—apologize to the country for his foolhardy attempt to introduce an unconstitutional litmus test that would exclude 41 percent of the country, or resign.”