The Slatest

Bernie Sanders Denies Being a Sinister Atheist

Bernie Sanders on Jan. 26, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Bernie Sanders was raised in a Jewish family that, according to his brother, was “basically secular” and did not frequently attend synagogue. As an adult, he’s reportedly not observant and speaks very rarely about his personal religious beliefs—a characteristic that was underlined during Tuesday’s Democratic town hall in Iowa when Hillary Clinton described herself as “a Christian” and a “person of faith.” Asked whether he believed in God during an October 2015 appearance on Jimmy Kimmel’s late-night show, Sanders answered elliptically. A 2015 Gallup opinion poll, meanwhile, found that 40 percent of Americans say they would not vote for an “atheist” in a presidential election.

With this all in mind, it seems somewhat inevitable that Sanders would be asked about the subject again, and it looks like the Washington Post got to him first:

“I am not actively involved with organized religion,” Sanders said in a recent interview.

Sanders said he believes in God, though not necessarily in a traditional manner.

“I think everyone believes in God in their own ways, “ he said. “To me, it means that all of us are connected, all of life is connected, and that we are all tied together.”

Is that answer enough to satisfy people who don’t want to vote for a nonbeliever? It’s certainly the most tentative claim of spiritual belief that’s been made by a major-party candidate in recent memory, right?

Read more of Slate’s coverage of the 2016 campaign.