Coons proceeds to taunt O'Donnell, and goes on to say that her question "reveals her fundamental misunderstanding of what our Constitution is, how it is amended, and how it evolves. The First Amendment establishes the separation, the fact that the federal government shall not establish any religion, and decisional law [I assume he means case law, which is subordinate to the Constitution, and therefore irrelevant if in conflict with the Constitution] by the Supreme Court over many, many decades clarifies and enshrines that there is a separation of church and state that our courts and our laws must respect."
We've reached a point in this nation where we're so ignorant of our own history, our own Constitution, and the principles and beliefs of the Founding Fathers that we accept as fact many blatantly erroneous assertions, such as America being a democracy or the First Amendment establishes a separation of church and state. A cursory effort to research either proves both to be unequivocally false.
So what does the First Amendment actually say? It says "Congress shall make no laws respecting an establishment of religion, OR PROHIBIT THE FREE EXERCISE THEREOF..." It doesn't say that Congress shall not prohibit the free exercise thereof, unless you work for the government, or attend a public school, or attend a public school football game, or any other scenario. It says that the free exercise of religion shall not be prohibited...PERIOD!
The phrase "separation of church and state" first appears in a letter written in 1802 from Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptist Association of Connecticut. The Baptists, alarmed by a rumor that the Congress was preparing to declare Congregationalism as the national religion, wrote to Jefferson begging him to intervene. In response, Mr. Jefferson wrote:
Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between Church & State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.
So where exactly does this idea that religious principles are forbidden from influencing government come from? How is it possible to hear Jefferson speak of a wall of separation, which protects the rights of conscience, and construe that to mean that religion and government are completely separate and never the twain shall meet? Ignorance. Pure ignorance.
For those still unconvinced, consider this. Jefferson, arguably the least religious of all of the Founding Fathers, went to Christian worship services in the U.S. Capitol for all eight years of his presidency. On Dec. 4, 1800, just six weeks before he assumed the presidency, Jefferson (as leader of the Senate) and John Trumbull (House leader) decided to begin holding worship services in the Capitol building, and the practice continued for over a century until other churches were built and used for their own sects (multiple denominations worshipped in the Capitol). Even prior to that, the U.S. Congress commissioned the printing of the first English-language Bible in 1782, with the inscription "Resolved, the United States in Congress assembled recommend this edition of the Bible for the inhabitants of the United States", and even more compelling, it was done so with the express purpose of being used in our schools!
Just five years later, the language of the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 would read in part, "Religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged." Consider the importance of the order of necessity.
Of course, this only reiterates George Washington's words in his farewell address, when he stated "Let it simply be asked where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation deserts the oaths, which are the instruments of investigation in the Courts of Justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that National morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle."
John Adams stated "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." In 1813, Adams would write the following in a letter to his friend Thomas Jefferson; "Now I will avow, that I then believed, and now believe, that those general Principles of Christianity, are as eternal and immutable, as the Existence and Attributes of God; and that those Principles of Liberty, are as unalterable as human Nature and our terrestrial, mundane System."
James Madison, called the Father of the Constitution, stated during the Virginia ratifying convention that "There is not a shadow of right in the general [federal] government to intermeddle with religion. Its least interference with it would be a most flagrant usurpation".
Still unconvinced? Then consider this. As president, Thomas Jefferson allocated federal dollars to fund the efforts of Christian missionaries to proselyte the Indians, and even allocated a portion of those funds for the purpose of building churches for those Indians that converted to Christianity. How much more evidence does one need to understand that our Founders never intended to separate religion from government, but rather government from religion, than Jefferson using taxpayer dollars for missionary work?! And liberals are appalled at Bush's faith-based humanitarian programs!
One last item for those still unconvinced. At the time of the writing of the Constitution, seven states had already established state religions: Connecticut (Congregationalist), Delaware (Christian), Maryland (Christian), Massachusetts (Congregationalist), New Hampshire (Protestant), New Jersey (Protestant), and South Carolina (Protestant). The First Amendment was passed in part to alleviate fears among the states that the federal government would establish a national religion, thereby usurping the RIGHT of the states to establish their own religions.
So now we see that Christine O'Donnell, being ridiculed and mocked by an auditorium full of law students and professors, acting as if she was a naïve rube, simply proved that axiom once opined by Ronald Reagan... "The trouble with our liberal friends is not that they're ignorant; it's just that they know so much that isn't so."
Louis DeBroux is a Taylorsville resident, married, with eight children. He is vice chair of communications of the Bartow County Republican Party. He owns Gatekeeper data backup and recovery. He can be e-mailed at email@example.com.