Christian leaders, NFL star slam Bernie Sanders over rejection of Trump OMB nominee

Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) has drawn flak from several Christian leaders in the country and an NFL star over his rejection of Trump's nominee for Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget.

(REUTERS / Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports)Oct 15, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints tight end Benjamin Watson (82) makes a two-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter against the Atlanta Falcons of their game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

During the Senate Confirmation hearing for U.S. President Donald Trump's nominee for OMB Deputy Director, Sen. Sanders asked Russell Vought about an article he wrote for The Resurgent blog and grilled him on whether he thought a person with such views was qualified for public office. In the article, Vought said Muslims "do not know God because they have rejected Jesus Christ his Son, and they stand condemned."

Sen. Sanders asked Vought if the statement in the blog was Islamophobic, to which the nominee answered negative and explained that his comments were based on his Christian beliefs. However, the Democrat told Vought that there are a lot of people in America who come from other faiths, and asked him if he thinks non-Christians are condemned as well.

For some people, Sanders' line of questioning bordered on being a religious test. Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) released a statement emphasizing Article VI in the U.S. Constitution which stipulated that no religious test should be given to people aspiring for public office, the Christian Broadcasting Network relayed.

Renowned evangelist Franklin Graham also posted a statement on Facebook that quoted a verse from the Bible in which Jesus says, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father exept Me."

NFL star Benjamin Watson, a known Christian, also defended Vought on Facebook.

"With all the talk about what's unAmerican, a U.S. senator attempting to disqualify a nominee because of his faith is exhibit A," said Watson.

In an interview with The Daily Signal on June 13, Family Research Council president Tony Perkins described Sanders' questioning as a "blatant display of religious bigotry and intolerance." He added that the senator's behavior is offensive to all Americans and that imposing such a religious test on Vought is unacceptable.

On June 8, an online petition was launched to ask Sanders to apologize for his comments to Vought about his Christian belief. The petition also asks the Senate to promise that no nominee will be rejected on the basis of religious background.