Liberals and the establishment news media were practically giddy with joy last week when they thought they had caught Delaware GOP Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell in a major gaffe.
“Where in the Constitution is the separation of church and state?”, asked O’Donnell during a debate with the Democrat nominee Chris Coons. The audience of law students erupted into laughter. Everybody knows, especially smugly superior law students, that the First Amendment requires the separation of church and state. Coons explained this to her in the manner of one explaining the obvious to a child.
That O’Donnell’s question was rhetorical never occurred to those who had already made up their minds that she is a dunce, even after she asked, in response to Coons’ condescending “explanation”, “You’re telling me the ‘separation of church and state’ — the phrase, ‘the separation of church and state’ — is found in the First Amendment?”
Naturally the establishment news media, when they played the clip, edited out her clarification and made it look like O’Donnell didn’t know anything about the First Amendment. Yet they ignored, for the most part, the fact that Coons couldn’t name the five freedoms guaranteed by that amendment.
But O’Donnell is right. The phrase “separation of church and state” appears nowhere in the First Amendment, or anywhere else in the Constitution. Nor was it the intention of the framers to ban religious expression from the public square.
The Constitution talks about religion in two places: in the First Amendment, which states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”, and in Article VI, which mandates that “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”
The intent of this was to avoid the European practice of having an official state church that receives subsidies from the government and to which public officials are required to belong.
Which makes this whole O’Donnell-Coons exchange on the First Amendment somewhat ironic, since it began with Coons demanding to know whether O’Donnell believes in evolution. O’Donnell responded that her views on evolution are irrelevant — and they are. But Coons and other liberals want to impose a religious test by making belief in evolution — a religious belief — a requirement for serving in the U. S. Senate. And this elicits nary a peep from the news media. Can you imagine the uproar if someone asked a Jewish candidate if she believes that Jesus Christ is the son of God?
In her reply to Coons’ question on evolution O’Donnell displayed a far deeper understanding of the Constitution’s treatment of religion than either Coons or the know-it-all law students watching the debate. The Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, not freedom from religion.
O’Donnell is not the only Republican candidate being subjected to a religious test this season. As I have noted here in the past, Nevada GOP Senate candidate Sharron Angle has been attacked by the media and the Reid campaign for her religious beliefs and has been accused of having ties to Scientology and being a Christian Reconstructionist — sometimes in the same article!
And Jack Conway, the Democrat running for U. S. Senate from Kentucky, has recently aired a series of ads that question his opponent Rand Paul’s Christianity.
Conway alleges, based on unsubstantiated allegations from unidentified sources in a recent GQ article, that Paul belonged to a “secret society” in college that mocked Christianity and kidnapped coeds and required them to bow down and worship a god named “Aqua Buddha”. This ad is worse than just an inappropriate attempt to impose a religious test on a candidate. It’s slanderous as well, accusing Paul of a crime (kidnapping) without a shred of evidence.
This illustrates another tactic that’s in the Democrats’ playbook this election season. Since they can’t defend Democrat policies, they resort to personal attacks on their opponents, dredging up episodes from their far distant pasts — even, as in the case of Christine O’Donnell, from their childhoods (you know, when she “dabbled in witchcraft”).
But it is in their attacks on their opponents’ religious views that liberals and Democrats are at their most hypocritical. It is they, after all, who make such a fetish of “separation of church and state”. If they are separate, why should a candidate’s religious views matter?
I’ll tell you why: because those views might stand in the way of liberals’ desire to kill unwanted babies and terminate Granny before her medical bills eat up their inheritance.