The unease about Bork's faith grew so loud in the South that Sen. Howell Heflin, D-Ala., began his remarks at Bork's confirmation hearings by discussing the allegation "that Judge Bork is an agnostic or a non-believer." Heflin said that the Constitution forbade inquiries into Bork's religious views. But Heflin showed his true feelings later, when he voted against Bork and explained to Alabama radio stations in a recorded statement: "I was further disturbed by his refusal to discuss his belief in God—or the lack thereof."
Heflin wasn't alone in using Bork's religious unorthodoxy against him. Rep. John Bryant, D-Texas, accused the Reagan administration of deceiving "many well-meaning and concerned religious groups" into thinking "that the appointment of Bork, an agnostic who is not a member of any church, would somehow be consistent with and advance their beliefs." Sen. Bennett Johnston, D-La., in voting against Bork, told his colleagues,
I am not one to bring up any religious test for judges. I simply mention that because there are so many right-to-lifers, people with whom I agree, there are fundamental religious people who look to Judge Bork as if he is some savior on this question. And I say that they should look, in addition to what he has written, at his statements on morals or lack thereof—and I don't mean to suggest he is immoral—but his lack of occupation with morals and with religion.