Source: Yahoo! News
By Rachel Rose Hartman
For the second time in the past two weeks, a tea party Republican has sparked a miniature media furor by questioning the separation of church and state.
"I disagree strongly with the concept of separation of church and state," Colorado Senate candidate Ken Buck said in a video publicized yesterday. "It was not written into the Constitution."
Buck made the remark in 2009, but video footage of the event was posted on liberal website ThinkProgress Tuesday -- just one week after tea party Republican Christine O'Donnell made headlines for asking during a Delaware Senate debate where in the Constitution that provision exists.
Many liberal commentators poked fun at both candidates -- especially O'Donnell, whom critics claimed was not looking to score a debate point but was demonstrating her own deficient grasp of the Constitution. The same critics derided both tea party hopefuls as "extremists" -- but the absence of any constitutional basis for church-state separation has long been a bedrock belief in conservative circles.
Indeed, a review of recent public statements from prominent conservatives shows how widespread the idea is -- and how, in a movement conservative context, provoking the derision of liberal commentators on the issue is far from a liability.
Dan Severson, Republican candidate for Missouri secretary of state, said last week: "Quite often you hear people say, 'What about separation of church and state?' There is no such thing. I mean it just does not exist, and it does not exist in America for a purpose, because we are a Christian nation."
Such assertions obviously command little assent among liberal Democrats -- but for candidates such as O'Donnell, Buck and Angle, the refutation of a constitutional basis for church-state separation alerts the powerful evangelical conservative base that they are candidates keenly attuned to the worldview of the evangelical right.
Buck spokesman Owen Loftus told the Denver Post that the left is just using the video as a distraction in the closing days of the campaign.
The First Amendment to the Constitution states: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ..." And the idea of a "wall of separation" demarcating the spheres of church and state is credited to Thomas Jefferson, in an 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptist Association.
The Supreme Court ruled in 1947 that the Establishment Clause of the Constitution prescribes a "wall of separation" between religion and state, but conservative legal thinkers contend that the ruling isn't grounded in the original intent of the Founders or the Constitution's actual language.
(Photo: AP/Barry Gutierrez)
Source: Yahoo! News