Here’s today’s hot item in politics. In a debate this morning in Delaware, Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell said her opponent is ignorant of the U.S. Constitution, then asked “where in the Constitution is the separation of church and state?”
Was O’Donnell merely ignorant of the Constitution or simply disagreeing with it?
The words “separation of church and state” do not appear in the First Amendment of the Constitution, of course. The phrase actually comes from Jefferson and the metaphor has been debated at the highest levels of justice. It was, however, codified into the Constitution by virtue of Supreme Court decisions in the ’40s.
But many conservatives don’t accept it. The conservative think tank, Heritage Foundation, for example, considers the metaphor “a myth.”
Similarly, the religion provisions were added to the Constitution to protect religion and religious institutions from corrupting interference by the federal government and not to protect the civil state from the influence of, or overreaching by, religion. The wall, however, is a bilateral barrier that unavoidably restricts religion’s ability to influence public life; thus, it necessarily and dangerously exceeds the limitations imposed by the First Amendment.