The physics of this thing should baffle anyone with even a basic grasp of logic. So, conversely, it makes perfect sense to Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX). Speaking for a World Net Daily presentation titled “Washington – A Man of Prayer,” a ridiculously misleading history of how George Washington was an obviously radical right-wing Christian (he wasn’t), Gohmert discussed the history of what’s now known as Statuary Hall inside the U.S. Capitol building.
With hypnotic New Age piano music playing in the background, Gohmert describes how, for a period of time, nondenominational Christian church services (for “all faiths of Christianity”) were held every Sunday inside the chamber, a room which also happened to be the original House of Representatives. He also mentions that Thomas Jefferson, while president, would attend Sunday services regularly there. In the broadest sense, this is true and we’ll come back to the propriety of such a thing in a moment.
Gohmert, to his credit, admits that Jefferson believed in a “wall of separation” between Church and State and that the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment was that wall. From here, everything Gohmert says falls rapidly off the rails. Of course. Because he’s Gohmert.
If you’re someone like Gohmert, this is an extremely difficult reality to square away. So what do you do? Clearly, you deliberately abandon the laws of logic and physics to shoehorn your inaccurate nonsense into what you just yourself said about Jefferson’s wall. And if you’re Gohmert, your Chiclet-brain is perfectly adapted for ludicrous flights of cringe-inducing doofery. Yes, a sitting member of the U.S. Congress went on to suggest that the “wall of separation” meant that the “church would certainly play a role in the state.”
In Gohmert’s brain, not unlike Homer Simpson’s brain, illustrated by a donkey napping under a tree, “separation” doesn’t carry the same meaning we’ve all come to know: “a point, line, or means of division” and “an intervening space.” In other words, if two things are separate, they don’t touch each other. For example: the separation between Gohmert and reality. Jefferson wrote that a constitutional wall of separation prevents Church from interfering in the State and vice-versa. But somehow, to Gohmert, separation isn’t a separation, it’s a something else therefore it’s not separate at all, yet he still believes it’s both a wall and a separation.
It gets weirder.
Gohmert describes the wall as somehow a “one way wall,” to which the obvious initial response can only be: “???????????????” What the hell is a one way wall? He seems to believe that this wall can be breached from one side, but not the other. Is he imagining a wall with a rope ladder on one side? Or is he imagining a semi-permeable membrane whereby religion diffuses via osmosis through the wall, but secular government can’t push through from the other side (this is Gohmert we’re talking about here)? Does he believe religion, because of its divinity, can be carried by winged cherubim over the wall and air-dropped into the State side?
If any of those options are the case, why even use the wall metaphor? And why say it’s a wall of separation?
Seriously, if Jefferson coined the phrase “wall of separation” but actually agreed with Louie Gohmert’s preposterous “one way wall” theory, then the Jefferson Memorial should be summarily demolished and replaced by a Piggly Wiggly because that’s what we’d deserve as a nation for being so enamored with an obvious psychopath.
Then again, the founding geniuses, including and especially Jefferson, who thought it’d be a good idea to hold Christian church services inside the Capitol also owned slaves. Resting a theory on the propriety of the founders across-the-board isn’t always a good idea. Speaking of which, they also thought it’d be a great idea to build the original Supreme Court chambers inside the Capitol building as well, which could’ve precipitated any number of serious separation of powers crises — or worse.
Gohmert’s Statuary Hall story could be the most insane thing he’s ever said. To repeat a often-repeated refrain: Gohmert gets to vote on laws that impact the entire country. He gets to vote on healthcare, the environment and campaign finance. He sits on the Committee on the Judiciary; the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties; Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security; the Task Force on Judicial Impeachment; the Committee on Natural Resources; the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources; and the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands. There are more than a few of those assignments that should scare the hell out of us — especially “the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.”
Let this story be a major illustration of why we need to do better when choosing our leaders — and, for that matter, why elections are important. In a sane world, voters in Texas would wake the hell up and build a wall of separation between this nincompoop and any elected office ever.