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Samantha Putterman
By Samantha Putterman April 2, 2019

No, Bernie Sanders did not say ‘Christianity is an insult to Muslims’

In 2017, Sen. Bernie Sanders had some things to say during the nomination hearing for the next deputy director of the White House’s budget office. The nominee, Russell Vought, had written an op-ed on a conservative website in defense of Wheaton College, his Christian alma mater, and Sanders felt some of his language was Islamophobic.

During the entire exchange, though, Sanders did not say, "Christianity is an insult to Muslims," as social media posts and conservative websites have claimed.

A recent Facebook post shares the quote and displays a photo of Sanders with a turban drawn on his head and text that reads: "Bernie Sanders says Christianity is an insult to Muslims. I SAY BERNIE SANDERS IS A DISGRACE AMERICA."

The post, which has been shared over 5,700 times, was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

The faux quote has been roaming the internet since Vought’s June 7, 2017, nomination hearing, when Sanders questioned his piece on The Resurgent, a website that describes itself on its Facebook page as "the home of resurgent conservatives online committed to resurgent freedom, faith, and family."

Vought’s January 2016 piece focused on Wheaton College’s decision to fire a professor who, as Vought puts it, expressed "controversial comments seeking solidarity with Muslims and her argument that Christians ‘worship the same God.’ "

Vought defended the college’s decision, and 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."

Sanders took issue with this during the hearing (around 44:30) and asked Vought if he believed the statement was Islamophobic.

"Absolutely not," Vought responded. He went on to say he is a Christian and believes in a Christian set of principles.

The two went back and forth, and at one point Sanders said: "In my view, the statement made by Mr. Vought is indefensible, it is hateful, it is Islamophobic, and it is an insult to over a billion Muslims throughout the world."

The debate ended at an impasse, with Sanders saying he will vote no. (Which he did, but with a tally of 49-49, Vice President Mike Pence’s tie-breaking vote pushed Vought through.)

Various media outlets reported on the exchange, and some condemned Sanders' comments as a religious test for public office, which is barred in the U.S. Constitution (Article VI). But, eventually, Sanders' words became twisted to suggest he was referencing Christianity as a whole, when he was specifically speaking about Vought’s statement.

Though some may interpret Sanders words as an attack on the entire religion, he did not say, "Christianity is an insult to Muslims."

We rate this statement False.

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Quotes Bernie Sanders as saying, "Christianity is an insult to Muslims."
Sunday, March 31, 2019

Our Sources

Facebook post, March 31, 2019

The Resurgent, Wheaton College and the Preservation of Theological Clarity, Jan. 17, 2016, Nomination Hearing for Deputy Director of White House Budget Office, June 7, 2017, Roll Call Vote 115th Congress - 2nd Session, Feb. 28, 2018, Article VI, Accessed April 2, 2019

The Atlantic, Bernie Sanders's Religious Test for Christians in Public Office, June 8, 2017

Bling News, Bernie Sanders Says Christianity Is An Insult To Muslims, Nov. 27, 2017

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More by Samantha Putterman

No, Bernie Sanders did not say ‘Christianity is an insult to Muslims’

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