Christine O’Donnell: Idiot of the Decade

I usually refrain from name calling on this blog because I would rather elevate discussion rather than join the cacophony of political mud throwing. However, GOP candidate Christine O'Donnell has backed me into a corner due to a statement so utterly ignorant and idiotic, I literally have no choice. Here's the quote (h/t Oliver):

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?’”

Here's the text of the First Amendment:

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.

Perhaps it's me, but it seems fairly evident. But then again, I have actually read the constitution.

If you are unaware that the First Amendment specifically prohibits Congress from making laws that would establish religion, you really have no business running for political office.

Someone please make this woman go away.

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  • http://profile.typepad.com/6p0120a6222484970c Robert W

    Ben, unlike some of your readers, I actually bothered to watch the debate as it aired.
    Democratic nominee Coons quoted verbatim a portion of the First Amendment, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” Then O’Donnell incredulously asked, “That’s in the First Amendment?” At two points in that exchange, the room full of legal scholars and constitutional experts laughed at her question. And for the record, I watched this exchange again to make sure I correctly heard what both candidates said.
    As to O’Donnell and her supporters are quick to defend, the words “separation of church and state” do not appear in the Constitution. However, as I’ve since learned, the phrase came from a letter Thomas Jefferson wrote to the Danbury Baptist Association in 1802. He cited the language of the First Amendment and said that it built “a wall of separation between Church and State.” I think one of our founding founders and author of the Declaration of Independence knew what the First Amendment actually meant. Just because you, the citizen, can practice whatever religion you so desire, the First Amendment ensures that the government cannot practice any religion whatsoever. And for the record, I’ve read the Constitution and the Jefferson letter. http://www.loc.gov/loc/lcib/9806/danpre.html
    Sadly Ben, there are many candidates who are as vapid O’Donnell, Palin or the rest of their tea party ilk. How do I deal with it? Though I am not religious, I think the Bible may be on to something. Proverbs 14:7 says, “Go thou now from the presence of a foolish man when though perceivest not in him the lips of knowledge.”
    Or, in layman’s terms, don’t waste your time arguing with an idiot. How very appropriate when talking with people who are blinded by religion in politics. And for the record, I’ve read the Bible, too.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/jonathonmoseley Jonathon Moseley

    Christine O’Donnell is correct. There is no phrase “separation of church and state” in the US Constitution.
    Your quote does not show a phrase “separation of church and state.”
    Furthermore, the First Amemdent you quote is NOT the equivalent of a separation of church and state because it also protects THE FREE EXERCISE TEHREOF.
    Because the US Constitution protects THE FREE EXERCISE of religion, the First Amendment CANNOT be interpreted as a separation of church and state.
    Seeking a separation would VIOLATE the Free Exercise of Religion