As Rachel takes us back to re-examine the tape, it's clear that O'Donnell really does think she's won on this point. That Chris Coons accurate quoting of the beginning of the First Amendment is ALL FAIL.
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.
The Constitution also says this in Article VI.
The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.
Taken together these two Constitutional clauses establish that Government will not impose religion on the people, and that religion will not be imposed or required of the agents of the government.
Behind this and the letters of Jefferson and Madison you have the Treaty of Tripoli from 1797.
As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.[
Although this seems self-evident to many of us, and has been affirmed in many court cases including Reynolds and Engle v Vitale (1962) which barred the state from imposing "Official" prayer in public schools. It's not just what's in the literal words of the Constitution, but it's also from multiple judicial interpretations of that phrase.
Further (ht Sam Wise Gingy) O'Donnell doesn't seem to realize that the scenario she suggests - that a local School Board has the "Right" to place Intelligence Design in their curriculum - has already failed before the Courts as it did in the Dover Case - where the Judge overruled the School Board and made this finding.
Teaching intelligent design in public school biology classes violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States (and Article I, Section 3 of the Pennsylvania State Constitution) because intelligent design is not science and "cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents."
Coons was absolutely, 100% correct.
But the Wingnuts see this in a completely different light. Sharron Angle says that Thomas Jefferson was "Misquoted" in his letters to the Danbury Church. Yeah, that's why Dan Burton has been cutting Jefferson out of Texas Textbooks, because he's been "Misquoted". Those are some easy examples and then there's the Big One.
And then there's - Rush Limbaugh.
Limbaugh: Christine O'Donnell was absolutely correct. The First Amendment says nothing about the Separation of Church and State.
And the left has taken this to say that religious people can not be in government. And that you can't teach something like creation in the schools while you can teach evolution because evolution isn't religion but creationism is. Intelligent design can't be taught because that's a religion, evolution is. Yet both require faith because neither can be proved.
Separation of church and state is not in the Constitution, and the fact that people laughed about this is what's really scary.
So Limbaugh feels she won too. What we're seeing here is part of a larger counter-factual dynamic coming from the right. They are deeply invested in things that are clearly not true, they deeply believe in things that can be called little more than a series of self-aggrandizing fantasies.
And Limbaugh isn't alone - here's the American Spectator on the O'Donnell Doctrine.
The political and pundit class is in a tizzy because Delaware Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell had the effrontery to question Supreme Court jurisprudence that has established a "wall of separation between Church and State."
But while O'Donnell may not have been as articulate as she should have been, she's nonetheless right: The phrase "separation of church and state" appears nowhere in the Constitution. It was penned, instead, by President Thomas Jefferson in a letter that Jefferson sent to the Baptist Association of Danbury, Connecticut.
And, as the Heritage Foundation has observed, far from being a "principled statement on the prudential and constitutional relationship between church and state," Jefferson's missive, in fact, was "a political statement written to reassure pious Baptist constituents that Jefferson was, indeed, a friend of religion."
See, from Jefferson own words "Separation of Church and State" they devise that he was a "friend of religion" - I guess because he agreed to refrain from using the power of government against them, even though they had opposed his Presidency, but then again - "Freedom of Religion and Expression" also stems from the First Amendment doesn't it?
Here's one more example from the "Freedomist.com".
In a debate at Widener University, with a leftist crowd of uneducated college students (who seem to believe the 1st amendment actually contains the phrase “separation of church and state”) Christine O’Donnell stood up to the leftist belief that religion has no place in the public square, that only secular godlessness reigns supreme in the public square. As a result, the leftist blogosphere is atwitter, literally, accusing Christine O’Donnell of not knowing what the 1st amendment means. Oops!
It turns out she does, and they don’t. The 1st amendment in no way shape or form articulates this mythological ‘separation of church and state’ that has been used by secular, godless, leftists to chase any religious value systems out of the public square in favor of so-callled value-neutral secular judgements.
Yeah, we leftists are such godless bullies against the faithful, because we seem to feel that if we were to establish State Sponsorship for religion, exactly which Religion would that be? Protestant? Catholic? Episcopalian? Anglican? Calvinist? Baptist? Mormon? Jewish? Muslim? Baha'i? Hindu? Kabala? Aqua Buddhist?
Which one would rule? Would it be the majority - what if that majority shifts demographically over time? What would happen to the freedom and faith of all the others when that occurs? Do we all have to become Wiccans if they gain electoral dominance and have to write the Pledge to Gaia into our Public School Curriculum?
It's all fun and games to them until someone suggests we have a weekly mass during 5th Period for Thor God of Thunder.
As you can see by how this is written, like O'Donnell, they think they're the smart ones - who have a Special Insight into Truth and we're the ones who are misguided and deluded. They simply don't get it. The only way to protect all faiths, is to ensure to no single faith becomes State sponsored and dominant. There will never be an Official Church of America.
They continue to think that "Intelligent Design" has something to do with Science, and that it should be Taught in Science class, even though it has No Basis in Science. They argue that Evolution is simply a "Theory" - ignoring that you could say the same thing about "Gravity", but I wouldn't recommended stepping off a cliff simply because you don't "Believe in the theory".
E=MC2 was just a theory too, until Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The fact that Sunday Schools and Parochial Schools can already teach any religious doctrine they like, is simply not enough for them - they think Government should be able to mandate Religious Creationism-Lite such as Intelligent Design into our Public Schools. They can't pray enough at their own Church, they also have to Pray in Public and have the School Administration use it to intimidate and coerce everyone else to go along? That's all Fail.
Evolution is the core basis of our understanding of Biology, to deny and doubt it would undermine much of our Medicine and Biotech. For example we develop vaccines on the biological basis that living organisms adapt to their environment and can develop anti-bodies to fight off infection. In contrast to this "Intelligent Design" leads us to what Scientifically Valid Conclusions? That we can Pray our Cancer Away? If we fail to understand our own biology accurately, our ability to address disease, infection and injury can be dangerously diminished. That's not just a difference of opinion, that's foolhardy and dangerous.
This type of anti-thinking among the right is also why you find large numbers of Climate Change Deniers among GOP Gubernatorial Candidates.
An exclusive Wonk Room analysis finds that 22 of the 37 Republican candidates for governor this November are deniers of the scientific consensus on global warming pollution. These science deniers are part of an anti-reality wave of Tea Party candidates, who comprise the Republican slate for the U.S. House and Senate. “The GOP is stampeding toward an absolutist rejection of climate science that appears unmatched among major political parties around the globe, even conservative ones,” writes the National Journal’s Ron Brownstein.
Although 97 percent of climate scientists agree that climate change is manmade, only two Republican gubernatorial candidates in Democratic strongholds — Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie (R-VT) and Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona (R-HI) — want to address the threat. Two more candidates — Gov. Jan Brewer (R-AZ) and Meg Whitman (R-CA) — accept that global warming is a manmade problem, but oppose enacting policy to reduce fossil fuel pollution. The other eleven candidates have “artfully avoided” any discussion of the threat global warming poses to their states, from flood-ravaged Iowa and Tennessee to drought-parched Nevada.
It's not just Climate Science they deny, it's Science they deny. They are in denial of Fact. This is where we get the "Stimulus Failed" when it's clear that it saved us from going into a new Great Depression. This is where we get claims such as Obamacare leading to "Death Panels" which Rep Paul Broun just Resurrected by linking it to the Stimulus.
BROUN: We see so many unintended consequences, or intended consequences, that are gonna force people off medicare advantage. Obamacare if it stays in as the law of the land is going to hurt the elderly more than anyone else [...] In the stimulus bill Nancy Pelosi set up a panel or something called comparativeness effectiveness research, what they’re doing there with that is they’re not comparing effectiveness as well as I and all the physicians will do, they’re comparing effectiveness of spending a dollar on one person versus another, which means the elderly are gonna be denied the care to keep them living and keep their health in good shape so they can have a useful, fruitful productive life. So see marked rationing of care for the elderly and those who have disabilites and those who have illnesses that will be terminal over a fairly short period of time, that may be who knows, ten years, those people are gonna be denied coverage of care of their health problems under Obamacare. [...] It’s gonna kill people by denying care.
Just like their misinterpretation of the First Amendment, this view is completely upside down - the Comparative Effectiveness Research is intended to find more efficient and cost effective ways to expand coverage to more people, not deny it.
Under the legislation, researchers will receive $1.1 billion to compare drugs, medical devices, surgery and other ways of treating specific conditions. The bill creates a council of up to 15 federal employees to coordinate the research and to advise President Obama and Congress on how to spend the money.
The program responds to a growing concern that doctors have little or no solid evidence of the value of many treatments. Supporters of the research hope it will eventually save money by discouraging the use of costly, ineffective treatments.
Shouldn't we know what treatments work and which don't? Shouldn't we put a higher priority of effective treatments that don't break our bank?
The fact Broun is himself a Medical Doctor, makes this even more insidious. But that's what happens when someone has become infected by the Anti-Fact Virus of the Right. And sadly, whether they take back either chamber of congress - there is all likelyhood that this virus will only intensify after the election. It's not the separation of Church and State that these people should be worried about, it's their own separation of Fact and Thought.