Bernie Sanders, 75 and an enemy of freedom of thought and belief, meet Bob Dylan, 76 and for decades an uncompromising voice for creative liberty of conscience and … Jesus?
Yes, senator, that Bob Dylan, the ageless folk rocker who gave America the twin anthems of the Left’s Sixties rebellion — “The Times They Are A-Changin'” and “Blowin’ In The Wind.” You should remember him from the era when you were leading a civil rights sit-in to end segregated housing in the neighborhoods around the University of Chicago.
Back then, you claimed to believe people ought to be able to live and learn wherever they choose rather than where they are told by corrupt politicians, bureaucrats and intellectuals. Something bad must have happened with you since then because these days, senator, you’ve become a censorious scold.
Your selective intolerance became clear during a recent Senate hearing in which you angrily attacked the religious faith of Russell Vought, nominated by President Donald Trump as deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget.
Vought had written in a defense of the beliefs of Wheaton College, his alma mater, that, according to orthodox Christian doctrine, “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.”
That prompted your hearing outburst at Vought even as you accused him of intolerance. Vought tactfully responded, saying, “as a Christian, I believe that all individuals are made in the image of God and are worthy of dignity and respect regardless of their religious beliefs. I believe that as a Christian that’s how I should treat all individuals . . .”
At that point, senator, you brusquely declared “I would simply say, Mr. Chairman, that this nominee is really not someone who this country is supposed to be about.”
Others have since rightly pointed out with great clarity how your declaration crudely violates Article VII of the Constitution, which stipulates that “… no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”
Article VII is why people of any faith or no faith at all have for hundreds of years held public office at all levels of government in America, including Protestants of many doctrinal hues, Roman Catholics, Muslims, Hindus, Mormons, Jews and atheists. Note, too, that religious freedom is the first one named in the First Amendment.
What strikes me here, senator, is that Dylan encountered intolerant scolds like you years ago and took note of them in his 1979 song “I Believe In You.” Ponder these lyrics about faith in Jesus now in the context of your religious test declaring evangelical Christians like Vought unfit for public office:
“And they, they look at me and frown
“They’d like to drive me from this town
“They don’t want me around
“‘Cause I believe in you
“They show me to the door
“They say don’t come back no more
“‘Cause I don’t be like they’d like me to”
No matter how intolerant, no matter what the consequences good or bad might be for believing Jesus, Dylan was and has since remained steadfastly determined to live his life according to his faith. Even if people like you, senator, want to drive him from this town, Washington, D.C.
That song appeared on Dylan’s album “Slow Train Coming,” the title cut of which included these lines:
“It may be the devil or it may be the Lord
“But you’re gonna have to serve somebody”
Sooner or later, we all have to make our choices on what we believe about God, where we live, the careers we pursue and the principles for which we are willing to live and die. Dylan knew years ago that it’s only a short journey from “you can’t believe that” to “you must believe this. Or else.”
Time is growing short for freedom as long as liberals like the Vermont senator keep choosing the “Or else.”
Faith File is written by Mark Tapscott, executive editor and chief of The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group. Follow Mark on Twitter.