During a congressional hearing yesterday, Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) defended a Trump nominee who once wrote that Islam is a “deficient theology.”
“Muslims do not simply have a deficient theology,” Russell Vought, Trump’s nominee for an Office of Management and Budget post, wrote on a conservative blog last year. “They do not know God because they have rejected Jesus Christ his Son, and they stand condemned.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont put a series of direct questions to Vought, as reported by Jennifer Bendery at the Huffington Post:
Such a statement is “indefensible, it is hateful and Islamophobic, and an insult to over a billion Muslims throughout the world,” Sanders told the room. He asked Vought, who sat facing him, if he thinks his past comments are Islamophobic.
“Absolutely not,” replied Vought, a former vice president of the conservative Heritage Action for America. “I’m a Christian, and I believe in a Christian set of principles based on my faith. That post … 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.”
Gardner responded by defending Vought’s right to interpret of his Christian faith, according to the Huffington Post report:
Fellow committee member Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) scolded Sanders, indirectly, by saying through gritted teeth that he hopes his colleagues “are not questioning the faith of others and how they interpret their faith to themselves.”
Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) later told Gardner he didn’t think Sanders was questioning anybody’s faith but rather “the nominee” was questioning the faith of others.