- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Religious liberty advocates are voicing support for the White House’s acting budget director, who faces confirmation hearings this week in the Senate, where his religious beliefs were criticized three years ago.

The Senate Homeland Security and Budget committees are scheduled to hold hearings Tuesday and Wednesday on the nomination of Russell Vought to be director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

“It is shameful that some Senators resorted last time to an unconstitutional religious litmus test in their effort to derail Russ’s nomination,” Kelly Shackelford, president of the First Liberty Institute, said Tuesday in a written statement. “Article 6 of the Constitution makes clear that a nominee’s religious beliefs can never be a reason to disqualify them from public office.”

During a hearing on becoming OMB’s deputy director in 2017, Mr. Vought drew criticism from liberals over an op-ed he wrote defending the firing of a professor from his alma mater, Wheaton College in Illinois. In his article, Mr. Vought had insisted on Christian doctrine as a pathway to salvation and appeared to dismiss Muslims as being “condemned.”

Mr. Vought told senators he believed in treating everyone with dignity, regardless their faith, and denounced calls that he was “Islamophobic.”

Mr. Vought has served as OMB’s acting director since January 2019, when Mick Mulvaney departed to become President Trump’s acting chief of staff. The White House signaled an intention to make him OMB director in March.

• Christopher Vondracek can be reached at cvondracek@washingtontimes.com.

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