By Bryan Fischer
Christine O’Donnell has been widely lampooned by the left, and regrettably, even by some misguided voices on the right, for suggesting in this week’s debate with Chris Coons that the “separation of church and state” is not found in the Constitution.
Unfortunately for her critics, she is 100 percent right. You will look in vain in the United States Constitution for the phrase “the separation of church and state.” It ain’t there. You can read it frontwards, backwards, sideways, and upside down and you will never encounter that phrase. Period.
In fact, according to historian J.S. Conway, Adolph Hitler and his propaganda boys coined the phrase, “the Church must be separate from the State.” He didn’t want the church meddling with his totalitarian ambitions for Germany any more than secular fundamentalists want the church meddling with their totalitarian ambitions for the United States.
But Chris Coons and the brain-addled law students listening to this debate apparently believe this bizarre and unconstitutional doctrine is found in the First Amendment. That law students actually think this is in our Constitution is a sign of how inept education has become in the law schools of America.
What the First Amendment prohibits is the “establishment of religion,” by which the Founders meant picking one Christian denomination and making it the official church, or “religion,” of the United States.
As long as Congress doesn’t do that, it can do anything it wants when it comes to religious expression.
The First Amendment was intended by the Founders to restrain Congress and Congress alone. They were as plain and as unambiguous as it is possible to be:: “Congress shall make no law…” What about the word “Congress” do secular fundamentalists not understand? This is not rocket surgery here. All you have to be able to do is read.
In fact, at the time of the founding, nine of the 13 original states had one form or another of an “established” religion, in which one Christian denomination or another had preferred status in law and was supported with tax dollars. The First Amendment was designed to preserve the right for the states to have an established church if they wished, but to absolutely prevent the central government from doing the same thing at the national level.
There is no restraint – none, zip, zero, nada – in the First Amendment on what state and local governments can do with regard to religious expression. Schools can read the Bible, post the Ten Commandments on classroom walls, and have prayers in classrooms, over the intercoms, and before football games if their school boards wish with no fear that they will infringe on the First Amendment. It wasn’t written for them.
And certainly Ms. O’Donnell was right when she said in this debate that there is no constitutional restraint on a school board including the theory of Intelligent Design in its science curriculum. That decision is not business of the federal government at any level, including the judiciary.
In fact, Chris Coons was the one who betrayed his ignorance of the Constitution. When Ms. O’Donnell asked him to identify the five freedoms protected by the First Amendment, he couldn’t name one. The only thing he could think of was the “separation of church and state,” and it’s not even in there.
What Jefferson meant by his “wall of separation” is 180 degrees out from what secular fundamentalists and activist judges have made it out to be. What Jefferson meant was that the First Amendment prevents the federal government from sticking its nose into the business of the church. In other words, Jefferson’s wall was there to keep the state from interfering with the church, not to keep the church from influencing the state.
For instance, the First Amendment was designed to prevent the IRS, an agency of the federal government, from telling pastors what they can and cannot preach from their pulpits. In fact, it is the IRS which violates the First Amendment’s protection for religious liberty and freedom of speech every time it threatens a church whose pastor addresses politics in a sermon.
But our socialist friends have turned the First Amendment upside down and Jefferson’s wall inside out, and are trying to use them to eliminate faith and even the mention of God from the public arena, a use which would appall the Founders and cause Jefferson to roll over in his Monticello graveyard.
President Obama is doing his part as a useful idiot in this crusade by repeatedly and deliberately omitting the mention of the Creator when he quotes the Declaration of Independence.
Bottom line, leftists are now using the First Amendment as a cudgel to batter religious liberty in America, which is the very thing the First Amendment was designed to protect.
Christine O’Donnell is right on this one, and her opponent turns out to be the constitutional doofus. The people of Delaware will find that their constitutional liberties are far safer in Ms. O’Donnell’s hands than in the hands of her bearded Marxist opponent.
(Unless otherwise noted, the opinions expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Family Association or American Family Radio.)
The Moral Liberal contributing editor, Bryan Fischer, is Director of Issue Analysis for Government and Public Policy at the American Family Association, and is the host of the daily ‘Focal Point’ radio talk program on AFR Talk, a division of the American Family Association. ‘Focal Point’ airs live from 1-3 pm Central Time, and is also simulcast on the AFA Channel, which can be seen on the Sky Angel network.