More Separation Denial

Christine O’Donnell might be running for a U.S. Senate seat from Delaware, but she would probably feel at home sitting on the Texas State Board of Education. We told you last month that the Republican Senate nominee believes evolution is a “myth.” Now she’s denying — like a number of State Board of Education members in Texas — that the Constitution protects separation of church and state in America.

“Where in the Constitution is the separation of church and state?” O’Donnell, who is popular among the religious right and tea party folks, asked her Democratic opponent in a debate Tuesday. Members of the audience at the Widener University Law School burst out in laughter. O’Donnell then seemed to express doubt that the First Amendment forbids government establishment of religion. Audio here.

More from the New York Times here.

The Texas State Board of Education last spring rejected a proposed requirement that social studies students learn about the constitutional protection of separation of church and state and the prohibition against government promoting one religion over all others.

18 thoughts on “More Separation Denial

  1. Let’s talk about the Teaparty witch. Of course, the words “church and state” are not in the Constitution, which is why I keep reminding TFN of its poor strategy in continuing to insist upon the nonexistent constitutional wording. What kind of stubbornness is it which characterizes TFN and allows the erroneous wording to continue? Is such a poor debate strategy really unchallenged by its membership? I challenge the wording distortion, and TFN continues to refuse to accept my challenge to prove otherwise.

    As Glenn Beck also records on page 287 of his nonsense called “Common Sense,” the words “church and state” are not in the Constitution! It is obvious TFN has not won the hearts and minds of the “religious right” or even refuted its argument, which argument continues unabated by the misinformed “teaparty” types.

    It is “separation between Religion and Government,” James Madison, author of the Constitution, which TFN should be promoting. The word “religion” includes church, so argument is closed and the debate is won. The Constitution says what it means and means what it says. The words “church and state” are not in the Constitution: .

    TFN needs to go to Baylor and secure a debate coach. It is way past time to win the debate with Barton and other distortionists and witches, and who knows maybe even the few readers and/or commentators who access this blog cite. The issue of wording distortion should be on the main page of TFN’s news releases and other promotional materials: the wording in the First Amendment is “religion,” not church, that is, it is the whole subject of religion which is not to be established by law of government.

  2. From sea to shining sea, I am heartened that the fruitcakes are finally doing what fruitcakes do so well—show their true colors, their fruitiness, and all of their nuttiness. Ms. O’Donnell is doing a masterful job in those maraschino cherry clothes she wears—not to mention nearly every time she opens her mouth. Then there is Ron Paul and his “Aqua Buddha.” Aqua? Gold maybe—but not aqua. According to Anderson Cooper tonight on CNN, the wide gap between Paul and his opponent are now closing since the commercials and the debate. Yes, it was 30 years ago. Yes, there was probably nothing to it. Yes, it was silly to even bring it up. That’s not the point. I know Kentucky people. They’ll ignore all that. “Maw!!!??? Djew hear whut that Ron Paul boy done done?” It’s not exactly the land of the free and the home of the elite. As the campaigns move into high gear for the last two weeks of the campaign season, watch out for flying fruitcake like the Three Stooges looked out for cream pies.

  3. I’m just hoping the wacky tea party Senate candidates take some House candidates down with them.

  4. And O’Donnell could name just one of the five freedoms guaranteed in the Constitution. Umm….I’ll try Freedom Fries for 2oo Alex?

    PBS has been doing stories on the various political races around the country for the past few days. Monday they focused on the Nevada Senate race. They interviewed Harry Reid and he was pouting, playing the victim in a sulking sort of way. It was actually quite pathetic. They also requested, numerous times, an interview with Sharon Engel but she would not respond to their emails. So the crew went out to catch one of her speeches and upon arrival at the venue found a large “NO PRESS ALLOWED” banner flying above the entryway.

    Apparently both Engel and O’Donnell are acolytes of Sarah Palin. The strategy is to brand the “liberal mainstream press” as “out to get them” and refuse all interview requests. (They will appear on Fox but that’s not a legitimate news channel.) The reality is they’re fully aware that their ignorance will come shining through and they’ll look like the fools that they are.

  5. O’Donnell: “The Constitution gives me the right to force everyone else to accept my GREAT GOD OF DENIAL and I can shoot anyone who disagrees. 1st and 2nd amendments…Thank you, Alex”

  6. I think Greg Garman makes a valid point, that many on the left are sneering and dismissive about the church-state separation dispute. A better strategy would be to explain why the historic interpretations of the First Amendment to separate church and state are in fact good policy.

  7. Mainstream: The “left” are not sneering and dismissive. We’re flabbergasted at the arrogant ignorance and the ignorant arrogance of radical evangelical idealogues like O’Donnell who want to force their religion on everyone else.

    There is no dispute.
    Even the Roberts court will blow any attacks on the separation of RELIGION and state out of the water. You can believe anything you want and you cannot force your beliefs onto others.

  8. “Congress shall make no law regarding the establishment of a religion or preventing the free exercise thereof.”

    First Amendment.

  9. Welcome, Robert Heard, BU ’51, but, please, Baylor grads should at least quote the First Amendment accurately. It is the continuing distortion of what the First Amendment actually says to which I object. The First Amendment says exactly what it means and means exactly what it says, e.g., the word “a” does not precede the word “religion.” It is the whole subject of “religion” which shall not be established by law in the USA. In America, religion is to be voluntary, not established by law, which is the principle upon which Baptists stand.

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” means “no law” even “respecting” an establishment of “religion” and “no law” “prohibiting,” which means totally forbidding (see Webster’s) the “free,” that is, voluntary “exercise” of religion.

    Now if we can all get TFN to stop distorting the constitutional principle, which is “separation between Religion and Government,” James Madison, “Father of the Constitution.” TFN is just as responsible for the continued distortion of what the Constitution commands as is Glenn Beck and the witch from Delaware .

    The words “church and state” are not in the Constitution. That which is not to be established by law is “religion,” the whole subject of religion. And, if we can get TFN to comprehend the value of using the exact wording of the Constitution, we will have greatly contributed to everyone understanding what the Constitution plainly commands. Thanks for reading and communicating: .

  10. Twits like O’Donnell play semantics and word games akin to those that run rampant in grade school. Remember “RailRoad cRossing, and so many caRs, can you spell ‘all that’ without any Rs?”? The gimmick was that you spell out “a-l-l t-h-a-t” for the correct answer.

    The expression “separation of church and state” is a loose quote of Thomas Jefferson when he was writing to the Danbury Baptist Association in 1802: “….act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.”

    These people are like a houseplant that craps.

  11. Mainstream: Whether the phrase “church and state” are or are not in the Constitution, why would you think that to separate them is not good policy? Are you saying you want a State Religion in the U.S.? Which religion would you like to see “established” by Congress? And under whose authority would your State Religion be governed? And what would be the status of those citizens who do not ascribe to your preferred State Religion?

    And why would you describe “many on the left” as “sneering and dismissive”? I suppose you would say the Suffragettes were “sneering and dismissive” because they wanted women to have the right to vote? And would you describe civil rights for minorities in the same way?

  12. Cytocop I take issue with the assertion that it’s “the left” who are opposed to separation of church and state. Quite the contrary; the only people for establishing religion are those on the extreme right.

    40% of Americans are independent voters. If you look at poll numbers they are overwhelmingly in favor of keeping the government out of the religion business. And in fact the majority of republicans are also for a secular government. But the whack jobs in the republican party ( Ihhofe, Bachmann, Palin, Vitter, DeMint, Coburn,Faux news) dominate the conversation. And the radical Christian extremists, aka the religious right, are well organized and so they turn out for in national election primaries whereas most “mainstream” republicans don’t. They’re able to foist their theocratic candidates into frontrunner status even though their views represent the minority.

    Heck I was a registered republican for 24 years. The day I hung up my spurs was the day AG John Ashcroft decided to sue the state of Oregon to prevent their death with dignity law from going into effect because it offended his religious beliefs.

    Many of us fiscal conservatives who abhor the religious right and their agenda have left the party. We’re currently residing under a political overpass living in a big refrigerator box looking for a new home.

    “I was thinking about how people seem to read the Bible a whole lot more as they get older; then it dawned on me – they’re cramming for their final exam.” – George Carlin

  13. On topic and Final Exam:

    Okay, let us take a final exam. Each question will be worth ten points:

    1. Thomas Jefferson was in France from 1784 into 1789 and had nothing to do with writing the Constitution or the First Amendment. Was Thomas Jefferson a “Founding Father,” (See Webster’s Dictionary) or a member of the First Congress?

    Answer: NO!

    2. Did the Founding Fathers, in Philadelphia, write Art., Six, Section 3., of the Constitution in plain English, i.e., “no religious test shall ever be required”?

    Answer: YES!

    3. Did the First Congress write the First Amendment in plain English, i.e., “make no law respecting an establishment of religion”?

    Answer: YES!

    4. Is the word in Art. 6, Sec. 3., “religious” and in the First Amendment “religion”?

    Answer: YES!

    5. Are the words “church and state” anywhere in the Constitution?

    Answer: NO!

    6. Has TFN ever admitted and reported the Constitution does not use the words “church” or “church and state” and then forthrightly declared the word “church” is a distortion of what Art. 6., Sec. 3., and the First Amendment actually says and means, no matter who uses or has used the words “church and state”?

    Answer: NO!

    7. Is the Office of Faith-based Partnerships unconstitutional, that is, does the First Amendment, via the Supreme Court’s application of the Fourteenth Amendment to the states, prohibit any level of government from making laws or policies which establish “religion”?

    Answer: YES!

    8. Was the witch from Delaware right for asserting there is nothing about “church and state” in the Constitution?

    Answer: YES!

    9. After many years of existence, has TFN won the debate and convinced the “religious right” of the error in its understanding as to what the Constitution actually says and means?

    Answer: NO!

    10. Should TFN review my book, The Religion Commandments in the Constitution: A Primer, , get converted, and change its debate terminology to conform to the Constitution and win the debate with the religious right?

    Answer: YES!

    Your final exam score:

  14. The point is simple:

    The words which are supposed to be supreme in a constitutional and Supreme Court decision are the words actually in the Constitution. The Founding Fathers and the men in the First Congress got the wording about religion and government correct from the beginning. They were talking about the whole subject of “religion.” They were not talking about a state church, or that is what they would have written. No grammarian can make the word “thereof” in the free exercise clause mean “church.” “Thereof” refers to and therefore means “religion.” Can persons who do not understand proper grammar or words confuse what the First Amendment actually says? Of course. But those of us who claim to be able to comprehend proper English, know words mean things, and the word “religion” means “religion,” not church.

    Does “religion” include “church”? Of course, the word religion obviously includes church and anything else related to religion. It is the whole subject of religion which shall not be established by Congress, law, or government at any level. The writers of the Constitution and the First Amendment understood what they wrote and meant. Those who continue to distort what the Constitution actually says, as if the First Amendment says or only means “church,” are dishonest. If the religion wrong crowd wants to plainly lie about what the Constitution literally says, that is its choice, but supporters of separation should be accurate in wording and principle. The proper debate wording is “religion,” the whole subject thereof, not just “church.” The word “church” is a distortion, and any argument which does not make that point simply fails to win the debate. For example, see Glenn Beck, the witch from Delaware, and the whole religion right argument, which wants Americans to believe it is only a state “church” which the Constitution prohibits. The word “state” is not in Art. 6., or the First Amendment.

    To the contrary, it is the whole subject of “religion” which shall not be established by law, regardless of what “religion” includes. In the USA religion is to be voluntary, not established by law. Thanks, Ben, for taking the test–and revealing your score! I hope the point I make is of value. I never lose this debate with anyone, because debates are about words. My position fits the words of the Constitution. I am indeed impressed and indebted to the plainly stated wisdom of Art. 6., Sec. 3. and the First Amendment. Those wise provisions solved centuries of governmental and social conflict. In the USA, religion beliefs are to be completely voluntary and all religion actions are subject to the laws of our great nation and its society, which is why Americans can live together in peace. Religion actions are not above the law. It is the religion wrong crowd which fails to comprehend those constitutional principles.