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Democrats' Shameful Attacks on Religion

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

Throughout the presidential campaign, Democrats warned that a Trump presidency would threaten the religious freedom rights of Muslim citizens. Yet, since his election, the Left has carried out multiple veiled and overt attacks on the religious beliefs of Trump nominees. The attacks are nothing short of shameful.

In June, Senator Bernie Sanders, attacked the religious beliefs of Russell Vought, a nominee for the Office of Management and Budget, for a statement he made about theological differences between Muslims and Christians. Vought’s comments came after his Christian alma mater, Wheaton College, fired a professor for asserting that Muslims and Christians worship the same God. Vought chimed in on the debate by opining on what he views as irreconcilable differences between Muslim theology and Christian theology. Vought made it clear his comments in no way implied that Muslims were less deserving of dignity or protection of rights, but that they were a theological argument.

Secretary Betsy DeVos faced similar criticism during her confirmation hearings to become the Secretary of the Department of Education. Critics honed in on her charitable support for socially conservative groups, as well as comments she made in 2001 indicating that school choice could help advance ‘God’s Kingdom,’ not a particularly new concept since part of school choice is allowing parents to have more access to religious schools as well as other schooling options. But, Senators, including Al Franken attacked DeVos over this. For example, Franken attacked DeVos’ role in the Acton Institute, a Christian free-market think tank headed by a Catholic priest.

Recently, the Democrats continued their attacks on a Trump nominee’s Christian faith by targeting judicial nominee Amy Coney Barrett. Senator Dianne Feinstein in particular singled out Barrett for a law review article she co-wrote as well as speeches and lectures she gave to Christian legal groups. Feinstein said that it is clear ‘dogma lives loudly within’ Barrett. If ‘dogma’ includes protecting the innocent lives of the preborn, the dogma lives loudly within many religious and secular people. For her comments, the president of Princeton (not a particular hotspot of religious conservatism), Christopher Eisgruber rebuked Feinstein. Eisgruber wrote, “tourge that the Committee on the Judiciary refrain from interrogating nominees about the religious or spiritual foundations of their jurisprudential views.”

Likewise, Senator Dick Durbin, who describes himself as Catholic, attacked Barrett for saying she was an orthodox and faithful Catholic. Durbin was also critical of Barrett’s stance against abortion -- a stance Durbin shared when he was campaigning for a House seat in a conservative district in Illinois but then eventually switched, becoming staunchly pro-abortion.  

Not surprisingly, all of these Senators also staunchly opposed religious freedom legislation. Durbin, a Catholic, supported forcing Christian business owners to pay for abortifacient drugs through Obamacare.

That Democrats' struggle with religion is not a new problem. Emma Green of The Atlantic pointed out that Obama staffers often missed well-known Scriptural allusions during policy drafts. For example, Green cites an issue with Michael Wear, an Obama faith-outreach director, who once wrote a fact sheet on fighting poverty with the title, “Economic Fairness and the Least of These.” A staffer asked who “these” referred to, missing a clear reference to a quote by Jesus about helping the least among us. Of the DeVos nomination fight, Wear noted the Democrats' wrongheaded approach to religion, “It’s much easier to make people scared of evangelicals, and to make evangelicals the enemy, than trying to make an appeal to them”, criticizing them for not making the hearings about policy.

The cluelessness about religious beliefs among Democrats has been a long-time coming. In 1992, Governor Casey was prohibited from speaking at the 1992 DNC Convention because of his pro-life beliefs. Democrats preferred the Cuomo-dodge; being personally opposed to abortion but doing everything else possible to promote abortion in the public sphere. After the 2004 election, Jim Wallis, pastor and founder of a liberal, Christian group, headed to Capitol Hill to teach Democrats how to speak “Evangelical.” In 2012, the Democrats faced an embarrassing spectacle when they tried to insert “God” back into the platform.

Democrats warned that a Trump presidency would harm the religious freedom of American citizens. Indeed they were right---the nomination process for Trump appointees has been a circus of anti-Christian rhetoric from the Democrats.

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