Senate confirms nominee whose faith triggered Bernie Sanders’ rage

Then-Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.

The Senate has confirmed Russell Vought, President Trump’s nominee to be deputy director for the Office of Management and Budget.

What makes Vought’s nomination novel is the fact that his Christian beliefs enraged Sen. Bernie Sanders, who lost to Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Democratic presidential-primary race.

“This nominee is really not someone who this country is supposed to be about,” Sanders seethed when Vought was being interviewed by the Senate.

The senator referred to a piece Vought wrote that expressed the Christian doctrine that Jesus is the only way to salvation.

On Wednesday, it took a tie-breaking vote by Vice President Mike Pence to confirm Vought.

When Vought came before the Senate last June, Sanders shouted at him, noted David French in National Review.

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.

The video of the entire hearing is online.

The Family Research Council described Sanders’ attitude as “religious bigotry.”

The group also launched a petition signed by more than 55,000 Americans calling on Sanders to apologize for his unconstitutional religious test.

FRC President Tony Perkins said: “It was a shocking moment to watch a United States senator declare that holding to a central tenet of Christianity that Jesus is the only way of salvation is enough to render a well-qualified nominee unfit for public service. Vought’s biblical view of salvation is no different than what Billy Graham preached for more than six decades.”

He said, “Thankfully, 49 senators and Vice President Pence in his tie breaking vote sent a message that public servants can express their biblical views on salvation without fear of being held to an unconstitutional religious test. ”

Perkins said the thought that Sanders “is a senator who almost won the Democratic Party’s nomination for president – a man who thinks there’s no room in the public square for people who believe the Bible – is a chilling one.”

“I congratulate Russell Vought and thank President Trump and Vice President Pence for standing up for the freedom of every American to believe and live out those beliefs in the public square,” Perkins concluded.

Sanders’ diatribe triggered responses, including one from Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., who said, “There was some dispute in a … hearing about Russell Vought and his faith … about is he too much of a Christian to be able to serve. I just want to make a public statement that that’s appalling to me … Article XI of the Constitution says there no religious test for any officer of the United States and that shouldn’t even have been a discussion in that committee hearing.”

French noted at the time that Sanders’ “tirade was certainly outrageous.”

“This is what happens when our national polarization breeds both ignorance and intolerance, and when intolerance trumps even the rule of law,” he said. “(One wonders: Would he grill an Islamic nominee in a similar fashion?)”

French said Sanders “personifies the arrogant contempt for Evangelicals that so often marks the secular American elite.”

“They don’t understand Protestant Christian theology. They read the worst stories of Christian behavior and presume that those stories fairly represent Evangelical beliefs. So they try to drive Evangelicals from the public square, and in so doing they become the intolerant scolds they imagine their foes to be. They hate Christianity, and use political power to try to suppress its influence. They presume that their Christian opponents would do the same. Thus, they spark the exact kind of religious conflict that the founders sought to avoid.”

He finished with a warning about Sanders and his ilk.

“Sanders’ actions also show the fragility of one of our core constitutional protections. There is no right or ability to sue Sanders into compliance. He can vote however he chooses, and there is no cause of action to compel him to cleanse his mind of unconstitutional motivations when he casts those ballots. Thus, one of our nation’s most important traditions depends on senators simply doing the right thing. But when our politics gets this polarized, it’s easy to justify ignoring the Constitution or rationalizing away its requirements for the sake of an alleged greater good. That’s what Sanders did here, and given the ignorance and intolerance that dominates our national debate, we can expect him — or others who think like him — to do it again.”


Do You Really Care about Evangelism? If So, You Need To Do More Than Pray

Prayer is the starting point, not the end

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Jonah lived during a time of relative prosperity for the nation of Israel; however, there was, of course, some trouble brought on by a certain city: Nineveh. As the capital of the Assyrian empire, Nineveh and those residing within her walls were known throughout the ancient world for their infatuation with brutality and violence.

Every Israelite from the tall to the small knew that the Ninevites were bad news— and so did Jonah. That’s why when God told him to go to the city to preach a prophetic message, he looked the other way.

Many of us read this story of the legendary man who spent time in the belly of the whale and wonder how he managed to disobey God so blatantly. We pat ourselves on the back whilst enthusiastically reassuring ourselves that we could never manage to behave that badly.

After all, if God called us to go and share his word we’d eagerly go, right?

The Ninevite in the Mirror

If we’re being honest, each of us has our own Ninevites— the sometimes unpleasant, occasionally disagreeable people whom God has called us to witness to. They’re our nosy next-door neighbors, unkind co-workers, and grumpy grocery store clerks.

Like Jonah, we might not feel like loving them or feel like sharing Christ’s message of redemption with them. Nevertheless, scripture is clear: “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation…” (Isa. 52:7).

Now, maybe some of us feel that we’re doing what we can right now to share the gospel. Instead of reaching out and trying to connect with our neighbors as we should, we choose what we feel is a simpler approach: prayer.

We trust that God hears us when we call. We know that he loves our unbelieving family members and friends even more than we do. So, we’ve determined that our well-intentioned prayers and warm wishes are enough to result in these folks coming to Christ.

Prayer Isn’t Enough

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Here is a great example of one that did more than pray

I want to be really explicit here: prayer alone will not save a single soul. Prayer is the starting point, not the endpoint, of our journey in helping people from darkness to light.

Now, don’t misunderstand me— prayer is important. We should all be going to God and asking him regularly to open hearts and ready minds to receive his message. Prayer is a part of the process, certainly, but it mustn’t— it can’t— simply end there.

In Matthew 9, Jesus commands his disciples to “pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest.” Prayer, in God’s eyes, is the catalyst, not the end result. There are people in our communities, families, and friend circles who have never heard the good news of the gospel.

If we say we follow Jesus, than this should bother us. The notion that so many wander through life apart from his love should motivate us share the hope that we have in Jesus Christ.

Building Your Individual Approach

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Its important to recognize that each of us is likely to approach evangelism differently. The skills and talents we have were given to us by God with intention; no one person occupies the same space as another in the church body. The key is this: to find the way you do it best!

My approach has always been more verbal. For someone like me, jumping into a cab or an Uber and starting a conversation with someone I’ve never met feels exhilarating. I enjoy asking questions and hearing people’s stories as this allows me to later redirect the discussion to the gospel.

But this, of course, isn’t the way all believers are required to go about sharing the gospel. For some, doing acts of service, writing cards, or sending gifts (and sharing why) might come more naturally. It’s all about leaning into the ways God is calling us individually to engage in the work he’s doing in the world.

In the words of 20th-century British evangelist Leonard Ravenhill, “Any method of evangelism will work if God is in it.”

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Judge Rules Idaho Cannot Deny Amended Birth Certificates to Men Who Identify as Women

Scripture states that those who turn God’s creation “upside down” are like the clay telling the potter that he doesn’t know what he’s doing.

Romans 9:20 says, “Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to Him that formed it, ‘Why hast thou made me thus?’”

Isaiah 29:16 also declares, “Surely your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter’s clay, for shall the work say of Him that made it, ‘He made me not?’ Or shall the thing framed say of Him that framed it, ‘He had no understanding?’”

Deuteronomy 22:5 further outlines, “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment, for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God.”

“Doth not even nature itself teach you that if a man have long hair it is a shame unto him?” 1 Corinthians 11:14 additionally notes.

BOISE, Idaho — A federal judge has ruled that the State of Idaho cannot legally decline to issue amended birth certificates to those who suffer from gender dysphoria, concluding that refusals violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

“Defendants … violate the Equal Protection Clause by failing to provide an avenue for transgender people to amend the sex listed on their birth certificates,” wrote U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy Dale. “Plaintiffs have sufficiently demonstrated that they have suffered irreparable injury and harm that cannot be remedied by ordinary remedies at law.”

As previously reported, last July, Lambda Legal filed suit against the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (IDHW) on behalf of two men who identify as women in an effort to force the state to change the men’s birth certificates. Both have had their name and sex changed on their driver’s licenses and social security records, and now would like to have their birth certificates amended as well. Both have been turned down due to state policies.

“I just want a birth certificate that accurately reflects who I am,” one of the plaintiffs, only being identified as F.V., said in a statement after the legal challenge was filed. “I hope that Idaho will give me the dignity of deciding when complete strangers get to know deeply private information about my life. Like so many transgender people, I’ve been on the receiving end of harassment and outright violence. It costs Idaho nothing to correct this piece of paper and recognize me as the woman that I am.”

On Monday, Judge Dale sided with Lambda Legal and the complainants, issuing an injunction against any further denials, which she said had “no justification.”

“IDHW permits some classes of people, adoptive parents for instance, to make amendments to birth certificates without record of the amendment on the reissued certificate. IDHW has similar laws and policies related to the change of paternal information. These laws give certain people access to birth certificates that accurately reflect who they are, while denying transgender people, as a class, access to birth certificates that accurately reflect their gender identity,” she wrote.

Dale gave the State the deadline of April 6 to begin accepting applications for amended birth certificates. The new certificates cannot include any indication that the person’s name and sex had been altered.

According to reports, Idaho officials conceded that there was “no rational basis” for declining to change the birth certificates, but told the court that it would create a new rule once it obtained an official order.

Read Dale’s opinion and order here.

Lambda Legal cheered the ruling, calling the State’s policy and practice of denying amended birth certificates to men who feel like women—and vice versa—“archaic” and dangerous,” and claimed that it forced “transgender Idahoans to go through life with inaccurate birth certificates.”

As previously reported, Scripture states that those who turn God’s creation “upside down” are like the clay telling the potter that he doesn’t know what he’s doing.

Romans 9:20 says, “Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to Him that formed it, ‘Why hast thou made me thus?’”

Isaiah 29:16 also declares, “Surely your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter’s clay, for shall the work say of Him that made it, ‘He made me not?’ Or shall the thing framed say of Him that framed it, ‘He had no understanding?’”

Deuteronomy 22:5 further outlines, “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment, for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God.”

“Doth not even nature itself teach you that if a man have long hair it is a shame unto him?” 1 Corinthians 11:14 additionally notes.