This explains so much about Christine O’Donnell’s political philosophy:
WILMINGTON, Del. — Republican Senate nominee Christine O’Donnell of Delaware on Tuesday questioned whether the U.S. Constitution calls for a separation of church and state, appearing to disagree or not know that the First Amendment bars the government from establishing religion.
The exchange came in a debate before an audience of legal scholars and law students at Widener University Law School, as O’Donnell criticized Democratic nominee Chris Coons’ position that teaching creationism in public school would violate the First Amendment by promoting religious doctrine.
Coons said private and parochial schools are free to teach creationism but that “religious doctrine doesn’t belong in our public schools.”
“Where in the Constitution is the separation of church and state?” O’Donnell asked him.
When Coons responded that the First Amendment bars Congress from making laws respecting the establishment of religion, O’Donnell asked: “You’re telling me that’s in the First Amendment?”
Her comments, in a debate aired on radio station WDEL, generated a buzz in the audience.
“You actually audibly heard the crowd gasp,” Widener University political scientist Wesley Leckrone said after the debate, adding that it raised questions about O’Donnell’s grasp of the Constitution.
(Via Doug Mataconis)
Here’s the video:
On a related note, I’ve been watching PBS’s wonderful “God in America” series. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants a more in-depth understanding of just how important religion has been to the evolution of this society. For instance, the very notion of separating Church and State wasn’t brought about by radical secularists. It was sparked by the Baptists who were being arrested for preaching in Virginia. At the time Virginia had an institutional church, the Anglican Church, and the elites and heads of the Church were very threatened by these radical preachers. Separation of Church and State was the work of both early Christian evangelicals and radical secularists like Thomas Jefferson who saw the good in keeping the two institutions separate, all of which eventually led to the inclusion of the First Amendment in the Constitution.
Ironically, in Delaware there was a great deal more tolerance for pluralism at the time, and the two institutions were already pretty much separate. It’s really a shame O’Donnell doesn’t know this and yet hopes to make herself part of that State’s legacy.