Meet Russell Vought, a man who supported the firing of professor Larycia Hawkins from an evangelical Christian college because she, in an expression of solidarity with Muslims, said Muslims and Christians worship the same God (even though her view is supported by many Muslims and Christians, including the Pope). Writing about his alma mater, Vought went on to argue that Muslims aren’t just “condemned,” but have a “deficient theology.” Well, who cares about the private religious beliefs of a person, you correctly ask? Certainly not us (one of our Countdown writers believes Jazz music was brought to earth from hell by demons, and we still let him sit with us at lunch). We don’t even care if Vought thinks Muslims (or Jews, Buddhists, atheists, and whoever else) are going to hell. The issue here is when one publicly rails against an expression of solidarity with another religious community because they are the “condemned”, that’s a clear expression of animus towards the targeted group. Vought has every right to write what he did and we have every right to note that in so doing, he demonstrated a hostility to religious pluralism. So when the Trump Administration nominated Vought to be Deputy Director of the White House Office of Budget and Management, you know the office that controls the money and the policy work of most of the administration,  we shared our concern with senators at his confirmation hearing on Wednesday. When Senator Sanders raised Vought’s words at the hearing, he was attacked for allegedly imposing a “religious test” on the office. But that’s just plain wrong and misses the point entirely! The only relevant question is whether there is public confidence in Vought’s ability to implement policies and allocate resources, to uphold full protection of rights—without prejudice. We don’t think he can and that is why we oppose his nomination. If you’re in doubt, consider a Muslim or Jewish nominee who declared in an op-ed that Christians "have a deficient theology...and stand condemned” and ask yourself if we’d even be having this discussion right now.

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