There has been much derision in the mainstream media over the ignorance expressed by Republican Senatorial candidate Christine O’Donnell in her “debate” with the sitting New Castle County Delaware Chief Executive, Christopher Coon, recently held at the Widner Law School. Although, not so widely reported in the conservative news.
The subject was the separation of church and state. Ms. O’Donnell asked Democrat candidate Coon to site where the Constitution so mandates a separation of church and state. The audience of law students rejoiced loudly that a Tea Party backed Republican Senatorial candidate could be so ignorant as to not know the source of such an important topic.
Democrat Coon responded that it is included in the First Amendment to the Constitution. The law school students cheered, and subsequent media pundits made much over the Democrat’s superior knowledge. But FOX News, and only FOX News, reported in the conservative news that Ms. O’Donnell was right, and Mr. Coon was mistaken.
So I decided to re-read it for myself… both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution – the first time since high school! If you have not done so, I heartily recommend it. They are both remarkably brief documents to have had such monumental impacts on our nation and the world. The writing style of the Constitution is necessarily legalistic, but the use of the English language in the Declaration of Independence is, well, just beautiful!
Ms. O’Donnell was right. Challenger Coon was wrong! Article I states, in its entirety: “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of a 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 re-dress of grievances.” That’s it! The “separation” issue just ain’t there. Or anywhere else in the U. S. Constitution!
Its prohibition for the establishment of a Government church was a reference to the Church of England being the coronater of Kings, and other British political rulers. Our War of Independence was a rebellion against this type of church rule, and the First Amendment was designed to constitutionally prohibit such a theocracy ever being repeated here. But nowhere does it state that there shall be a “separation” of church and state, or that the US Government cannot participate in church activities, and vice-versa. It merely states that there can be no officially sanctioned Governmental church organization, or such titles of nobility granted. That’s it!
So, you ask, how could this misconception of a Constitutionally mandated separation of church and state become so ingrained into our society?
If you read the Constitution for yourself, you will see that over time, and especially in recent times, our politicians have picked and chosen those portions they wish to embrace, and overlook, or openly oppose, the others… like in Article IV, Section 4: “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a republican form of government and shall protect each of them against invasion, and on application of the legislature, or of the executive (when the legislature cannot be contacted) against domestic violence.”
Does our failure to protect our border states, and the Justice Department’s current lawsuit against the state of Arizona to prevent their attempting to protect themselves, come to mind?
Both these documents, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, are available in a pocket-sized edition from your local Republican Party Headquarters, or on the Internet. Read them.
You’ll be glad you did!
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