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No Separation of Church and State in Constitution? Ask Christine O’Donnell

No Separation of Church and State in Constitution? Ask Christine O’Donnell

On Tuesday Republican Senate nominee Christine O’Donnell of Delaware questioned whether the U.S. Constitution calls for a separation of church and state.  The revelation came before an audience of legal scholars at Widener University Law School as O’Donnell criticized her opponent’s position that teaching creationism in public schools would violate the First Amendment by promoting religious doctrine.

The audience was visibly shocked by O’Donnell’s apparent ignorance concerning the First Amendment, especially when she challenged Democrat Chris Coons’ assertion that it was in fact the First Amendment that bars Congress from making laws respecting the establishment of  or promotion of a particular religion.

Given the fact that many on the far right take a similar position, perhaps the audience shouldn’t have been so surprised.  Delaware Tea Party candidate Glen Urquhart, who is looking to replace Coons, has suggested repeatedly that the First Amendment does not in fact create a separation of church and state.  Urquhart has taken his own brand of constitutional crazy one step further by asserting that the very premise of separation of church and state is a doctrine established and made famous by Nazis.

Yes, folks, these two individuals are currently vying for federal office.  Neither has a minimum competency or understanding of the Constitution yet both have the possibility of crafting federal law.  If you were not motivated to go out and vote in opposition to the Tea Party candidates, hopefully you are now.

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photo courtesy of michaeldjohns via Flickr

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140 comments

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3:10PM PST on Jan 30, 2011

Our founding fathers mandated Separation of Church and State for a very specific reason. Early American Settlers were creating boundries (states) based on the religion of the people residing there. It was much like children who draw a line in the sand and fight over others crossing it. The government stepped in and declared "There will not be separation of church and state. We are one country,under God indivisible with liberty and justice for all."
Too many Americans cherry pick part of this and use it to keep God out of the country. NO! Bad Americans. Our founding fathers were not speaking in metaphors. They had a vision of a strong unified country and refused to allow settlers to fight over territory in the name of religion. At that time, Americans may have had different religions, but they all believed in God.

3:06PM PST on Jan 30, 2011

Our founding fathers mandated Separation of Church and State for a very specific reason. Early American Settlers were creating boundries (states) based on the religion of the people residing there. It was much like children who draw a line in the sand and fight over others crossing it. The government stepped in and declared "There will not be separation of church and state. We are one country, indivisible with liberty and justice for all."
Too many Americans cherry pick part of this and use it to keep God out of the country. NO! Bad Americans. Our founding fathers were not speaking in metaphors. They have a vision of a strong unified country and refused to allow settlers to fight over territory in the name of religion.

8:18AM PST on Nov 7, 2010

"She lost!!! YaY!!!"

SO!?!?

6:52PM PDT on Nov 6, 2010

She lost!!! YaY!!!

10:29PM PDT on Oct 26, 2010

"The assertion that the Constitution does not clearly define our founders fathers intent of the "separation of church and state" "

It does not! Not as accepted by many of the people alive today. The Constitution says that the country will not have an official religion, nor ONE that is the Government. It also says that no one may be enjoined from activities, practices or observances of their religion!

And that is all it says.

10:27PM PDT on Oct 26, 2010

"I don't know what version of the Constitution, Cunnigham is referring to but, it certainly is not the same United States Constitution that our founding fathers drafted, wrote and then signed it, enacting it as the law of the land. "

Sure as HECK is:
"U.S. Constitution - Amendment 1

Amendment 1 - Freedom of Religion, Press, Expression

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." (http://www.usconstitution.net/xconst_Am1.html)

Want to revise the above statement you made??

9:25AM PDT on Oct 26, 2010

I don't know what version of the Constitution, Cunnigham is referring to but, it certainly is not the same United States Constitution that our founding fathers drafted, wrote and then signed it, enacting it as the law of the land.

Furthermore; O'Donnell claims to be a constitutional scholar, and like her many other bogus claims bore out in her debate with her Democratic contender, Coons, in acutality, she knows very little about very little!

The assertion that the Constitution does not clearly define our founders fathers intent of the "separation of church and state" by the far right extremists is one more example of the direction that this party would take our country if they were ever able to become a majority in the Congress and Senate.

11:21AM PDT on Oct 24, 2010

"I also disagree that there had to be a First Cause; there is nothing in physics that precluded time being infinite in both directions, as mind boggling as that seems."

Sorry I am just a lowly math major. We accept infinity, since n+1 is always true. Short discussion with another mind. Result. It is true that Physics recognizes infinity. Einstein postulations. Approach speed of light mass approaches infinity. Obviously mass is a measure that could reach infinity. Time is a measure therefore ...

10:18AM PDT on Oct 24, 2010

Something doesn't have to be 'homogeneous' to be a religion. Even the various sects contain churches of often significantly differing beliefs and practices (i.e., Southern Baptist, Primitive Baptist, etc.) And even within the same physical church each member is going to, within his own mind and in his own life, sometimes have differing interpretations of scripture and differing ways of living his beliefs.

But all Christian churches have one thing in common - they are followers of Jesus Christ. And a person who professes belief in Christ is, by definition, a Christian. And there are many people who belong to no church - but are still Christians. Because they accept the teachings of Christ as contained in the Christian Bible (which, of course, isn't a "Baptist" Bible or a "Methodist Bible" - it's the Christian Bible).

We as a society don't base our interpetation of the Constitution upon Michael Cunningham's personal definition of religion. We base that interpretation upon society's generally-accepted definition. And society doesn't agree with you, Michael. Nor do the dictionaries. Nor do the encyclopedias. Nor does the Supreme Court.

So I suppose society and Michael Cunningham will just have to agree to disagree.

9:59AM PDT on Oct 24, 2010

"If you think your making an argument that Christianity is not a religion and therefore the laws of the land do not apply"

Never said that!

If Christianity were a single religion it would have, in fact, one name. As the last posted definition of religion clearly showed a religion is homogeneous in its tenets, beliefs and practices. As this is not the case among the various christian religions, they can not be a single religion.
Besides the argument is about Government establishing a religion. All of the very specific attacks against displays of very specific religious icons or actions are not being forced on anyone by Government fiat. Hence can not rise to the level of "establishment". But at the same time all of the court actions and rulings are in violation of "prohibiting the free exercise thereof".
Further these case can be used to support an argument that the Government is establishing "no religion" as the "religion" of the land

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