South Carolina pastor Mark Burns attended a rally in North Carolina Monday, at which Donald Trump and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie engaged in a Q&A session. Before the Republican presidential candidates came onstage, the televangelist and staunch Trump supporter addressed the Lenoir-Rhyne University crowd and said that Democratic candidate Senator Bernie Sanders “doesn’t believe in God.”
“Listen, Bernie gotta get saved, he gotta meet Jesus,” Burns said, according to CNN. “I don’t know. He’s got to have a coming to Jesus meeting.”
Although Sanders has largely avoided the topic of his Jewish faith, he recently set the record straight about his feelings on his religion.
“I am very proud to be Jewish, and being Jewish is so much of who I am,” he said at a Democratic debate. “Look, my father’s family was wiped out by Hitler in the Holocaust. I know about what crazy and radical and extremist politics mean. I learned that lesson as a tiny, tiny child when my mother would take me shopping, and we would see people working in stores who had numbers on their arms because they were in Hitler’s concentration camp.”
“I’m very proud of being Jewish, and that is an essential part of who I am as a human being,” he added.
Burns later told CNN that his comments weren’t meant to be disrespectful toward the Jewish community, but that he feels Sanders should “talk more about the importance of faith.”
“[Sanders] is most definitely not a religious-minded individual,” said the pastor, who is also co-founder and CEO of the NOW Television Network. “Obviously, if he was ever elected president he would be the first non-Christian, and that’s not an issue that he is not a Christian, so to speak, so this is not anything bad about the Jewish people.”
During a discussion with Burns, political analyst Donna Brazile told the pastor that his comments were “offensive to Jewish Americans.”
“Bernie Sanders has a lot of faith,” Brazile said. “I’m disappointed, pastor.”
Sanders’ camp has yet to respond to the comments questioning his religion.