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Allhallowsday
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« on: October 19, 2010, 03:08:49 PM »

O'Donnell questions separation of church and state
WILMINGTON, Del. – Republican Senate nominee Christine O'Donnell of Delaware on Tuesday questioned whether the Constitution calls for a separation of church and state, appearing to disagree or not know that the First Amendment bars the government from establishing religion.

The exchange came in a debate before an audience of legal scholars and law students at Widener University Law School, as O'Donnell criticized Democratic nominee Chris Coons' position that teaching creationism in public school would violate the First Amendment by promoting religious doctrine.

Coons said private and parochial schools are free to teach creationism but that "religious doctrine doesn't belong in our public schools."

"Local schools do not have the right to teach what they feel?" O'Donnell said. "Talk about imposing your beliefs on the local schools."

When O'Donnell cited "indispensable principles" of the Founding Fathers in her criticism of an overreaching federal government, Coons interrupted her to say, "One of those indispensable principles is the separation of church and state."

"Where in the Constitution is the separation of church and state?" O'Donnell asked, a statement that drew laughter from the audience. When Coons returned to the topic a few minutes later, he said her comment "reveals her fundamental misunderstanding of what our Constitution is."

"The First Amendment establishes the separation, the fact that the federal government shall not establish religion," Coons said.

"The First Amendment does?" O'Donnell interrupted. "You're telling me that the separation of church and state is found in the First Amendment?"

When Coons summarized the amendment as saying government shall make no law establishing religion, O'Donnell interrupted again: "That's in the First Amendment?"

Her comments, in a debate aired on radio station WDEL, generated a buzz in the audience.

"You actually audibly heard the crowd gasp," Widener University political scientist Wesley Leckrone said after the debate, adding that it raised questions about O'Donnell's grasp of the Constitution...

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101019/ap_on_el_se/us_delaware_senate 

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akiratubo
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« Reply #1 on: October 19, 2010, 04:26:33 PM »

This woman needs to go away.
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« Reply #2 on: October 19, 2010, 11:43:10 PM »

I think the point she was trying (rather poorly, I might add) to make is that the phrase "separation of church and state" does NOT occur in the First Amendment, and was not used to describe it at the time - it was Thomas Jefferson who used the phrase "a wall of separation" in a letter to a group of pastors from Danbury, CT about 20 years AFTER the Constitutional Convention and the passage of the Bill of Rights.

The fact is that, for nearly 200 years, Bible reading and prayer were an integral part of American school life - right up until 1962's Engel vs. Vitale case.  Incidentally, in their ruling on that case, the justices were unable to cite a single legal precedent for their decision.

  I do not think ANY of our founders - not even Jefferson, who was a pure Deist rather than a Christian - ever intended for the First Amendment to be twisted and stretched to the point that it has today, where we can't even pray before a football game, and where a valedictorian was actually threatened with JAIL TIME if he mentioned the name of Jesus Christ in a commencement prayer.

  I do not think that public school should be Sunday School.  But when you can't even wish your students a "Merry Christmas" without facing a possible lawsuit, something is deeply, deeply wrong.
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« Reply #3 on: October 20, 2010, 07:02:27 AM »

I'm inclined to agree with Indianasmith here for the most part.  I'm not religious by any means, but I'm also not going to stop anyone else from being so.  I feel that we are becoming too PC of a country. 

If someone wants to pray before a football game, let them.  If someone wants to thank Jesus/God/Whomever during a speech, then that's fine with me too.  I'm comfortable in my own beliefs.  I don't feel threatened by someone else expressing their own beliefs. 

This country was built on religion.  Our moral code, instilled in us from day one, comes from religion.  There is a lot of good in religion.  It gives people something to believe in, something to hang on to. 

We live in a society where more often than not, you're told that you can't speak your mind for fear of hurting someone else's feelings.  America really needs to grow some thicker skin.
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« Reply #4 on: October 20, 2010, 10:26:42 PM »

I was talking to a couple of my students today who watched the  entire debate, and they put a bit different spin on it.  Granted, this is second hand, but they both concurred on the details, and they are pretty sharp political junkies -

Apparently, Christine O'Donnell asked Coons to name the five freedoms protected by the First Amendment (something I require all my Senior Government students to memorize), and the only thing he could come up with was "Separation of Church and State" - which phrase, as I noted above, does not even occur in the First Amendment.  She asked him to name the others (Freedom of speech, assembly, petition, and the press) and he could not.  That was the context in which she asked "Separation of church and state?" several times, a quote badly twisted in the quoted article.

  Assuming that their recollection of the debate is accurate, it makes you really question the nature of  the reporting on this race.  Is it any wonder, then, that conservatives don't trust the media? Which one of the two really understands the Constitution less?

If someone has a link to the actual debate, it would help clear this discussion up a bit anyway.
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« Reply #5 on: October 20, 2010, 11:46:04 PM »

I absolutely believe that separation of church and state is absolutely essential to maintaining a free society.

If you want to live in a country without separation of chruch and state, there's Iran, Saudi Arabia, pakistan, afghanistan and a few others.

I also believe in separation or Christine O'Donnell and state.
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flackbait
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« Reply #6 on: October 21, 2010, 12:05:13 AM »

Indiana I mean no disrespect but there is a vague comment on the separation of church and state in the first amendment. I pulled this directly from the bill of rights page: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof". My guess is what the founding fathers had in mind by saying that was that the government could not establish a theocracy or make mandates on religious practices. But modern times have changed that a little bit. For example in public schools if you held daily prayer over the intercom, that will be seen by some people as mandating religion. All of that said I will agree with you that it definitely is taken to an extreme. I will tell people merry Christmas D*mmit, political correctness be Danged!
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indianasmith
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« Reply #7 on: October 21, 2010, 06:17:56 AM »

Oh, don't get me wrong, FB; the PRINCIPLE is definitely there; just the phrase is missing. Freedom of religion is the first thing mentioned, THEN the establishment clause BTW, Doc X, don't forget that England also has an established church, and they aren't lopping people's heads off in the name of Jesus and haven't for some time.   All the countries that you named have the unfortunate combination of having a state religion - and that religion being Islam! Buggedout

I'd still take Christine O'Donell over a self-admitted Marxist.
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« Reply #8 on: October 21, 2010, 09:51:00 AM »

don't forget that England also has an established church, and they aren't lopping people's heads off in the name of Jesus and haven't for some time....   


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Allhallowsday
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« Reply #9 on: October 21, 2010, 11:31:35 AM »

I was talking to a couple of my students today who watched the  entire debate, and they put a bit different spin on it.  Granted, this is second hand, but they both concurred on the details, and they are pretty sharp political junkies -

Apparently, Christine O'Donnell asked Coons to name the five freedoms protected by the First Amendment (something I require all my Senior Government students to memorize), and the only thing he could come up with was "Separation of Church and State" - which phrase, as I noted above, does not even occur in the First Amendment.  She asked him to name the others (Freedom of speech, assembly, petition, and the press) and he could not.  That was the context in which she asked "Separation of church and state?" several times, a quote badly twisted in the quoted article.
Indy, there is no such spin anywhere I can find... I'm sure some outlet would have pointed out COONS' failure as you paraphrased by your students (y'think they're eager to please you?) if that exchange had occurred.  It seems O'DONNELL a "constitutional expert" can't remember too many details.  Why defend a clearly ignorant candidate just because you agree with her?    Question

Assuming that their recollection of the debate is accurate, it makes you really question the nature of  the reporting on this race.  Is it any wonder, then, that conservatives don't trust the media? Which one of the two really understands the Constitution less?
If someone has a link to the actual debate, it would help clear this discussion up a bit anyway.
There is a bit of it here in a report from CNN:
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« Reply #10 on: October 21, 2010, 12:11:11 PM »

Indiana I mean no disrespect but there is a vague comment on the separation of church and state in the first amendment. I pulled this directly from the bill of rights page: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof". My guess is what the founding fathers had in mind by saying that was that the government could not establish a theocracy or make mandates on religious practices. But modern times have changed that a little bit. For example in public schools if you held daily prayer over the intercom, that will be seen by some people as mandating religion. All of that said I will agree with you that it definitely is taken to an extreme. I will tell people merry Christmas D*mmit, political correctness be Danged!

That's a good point. You cannot establish any religion as 'the one' nor can you stop individuals from exercising their religion freely, or speaking in it's name. 

I have YET to have anyone ever attack me or criticize me for saying "Merry Christmas" to them.  Left or Right, I have never been attacked for it by anyone of any political sphere.

I think if you go to the common man, you'll find that a lot more people are OK with it because to them it's no biggie (and shouldn't be). It's always the loud minority that forces their way in and starts trouble where there really isn't any to begin with, and I think many see this.

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« Reply #11 on: October 21, 2010, 12:31:06 PM »

Quote
That was the context in which she asked "Separation of church and state?" several times, a quote badly twisted in the quoted article.

Well, per the video, first she says the "phrase" separation of church and state, then later on she simply states it without the phrase clarifier.  THEN, Coons quotes the establishment clause, and O'Donnell responds by saying, "That's in the 1st Amendment?".  It looks to me like she was trying to make a really, really dumb talking point and completely failed at it.  Anybody who makes a big deal out of that phrase not being in the 1st amendment is generally just displaying their ignorance - it's a broadly worded clause, and it has been interpreted for 50 years as prohibiting government entities from promoting any religion over any other.  It'd be kind of like saying the 2nd Amendment doesn't allow us to own guns, because it refers to arms.

The real reason this is controversial of course is not because of a bad constitutional interpretation, it's because many American Christians WANT the government to promote Christianity over all other religions in government institutions.  Sorry, that's not acceptable.  

Quote
The fact is that, for nearly 200 years, Bible reading and prayer were an integral part of American school life - right up until 1962's Engel vs. Vitale case.

"This is the way we've always done it" is a pretty poor justification.

Quote
But when you can't even wish your students a "Merry Christmas" without facing a possible lawsuit, something is deeply, deeply wrong.

Since you're a teacher, perhaps you know better, but I believe this was a fabrication of ACLU haters.  

Quote
where a valedictorian was actually threatened with JAIL TIME if he mentioned the name of Jesus Christ in a commencement prayer.

Again, I believe this is also a fabrication.  What exactly would the student be charged with?  The story makes no sense.  The actual case I'm aware of was a valedictorian who was cut off in mid-speech when he began to proselytize Jesus.  Which, on another note, I'd consider something of a gray area - it was a student doing it of his own accord, but it's a school provided venue with a captive audience and allowing proselytizing in this way lends itself to abuse.

Quote
 I do not think that public school should be Sunday School.

And that's one reason amongst many why you're a lot better than people like O'Donnell.  
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« Reply #12 on: October 21, 2010, 12:35:47 PM »

Here you can watch the entire debate.  http://www.wdel.com/video.php?v=wdelsenatedenate.flv 

No one should be making excuses for this woman. She has no place in politics.

As far as Coons being a marxist. http://politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2010/oct/14/christine-odonnell/christine-odonnell-claims-chris-coons-has-marxist-/

Quote
The origin of the Marxism charge is an opinion piece Coons wrote for the Amherst College student newspaper during his senior year. The headline: "Chris Coons: The Making Of A Bearded Marxist."

This is undoubtedly the kind of thing that makes an opposition researcher scream "Cha-ching!"

But you don't have to read too far into the article to get that the "Bearded Marxist" line is hyperbole.

The article, which ran in the Amherst Student on May 23, 1985, describes Coons' transformation from "somewhat of a Republican fanatic" -- who helped found the Amherst College Republicans in 1983 -- to an ardent Democrat, largely as a result of his experiences spending a semester in Kenya during his junior year.

"I spent the spring of my junior year in Africa on the St. Lawrence Kenya Study Program," Coons wrote. "Going to Kenya was one of the few real decisions I have made; my friends, family, and professors all advised against it, but I went anyway. My friends now joke that something about Kenya, maybe the strange diet, or the tropical sun, changed my personality; Africa to them seems a catalytic converter that takes in clean-shaven, clear-thinking Americans and sends back bearded Marxists."
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« Reply #13 on: October 21, 2010, 12:43:56 PM »

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Here's a few more clips about her debate performance (with commentary from a youtube pundit, which you can take it for what it's worth).  She makes another 1st Amendment gaffe when she says that when it comes to determining what is protected free speech "the Supreme Court has always ruled that the local community has the right to decide."  

And Indy's students were correct that Coons did not name the 5 freedoms when asked.  Link.  It's not clear that he couldn't name them, but he didn't take the opportunity to demonstrate his knowledge, which could be viewed as dodging the question because he would have gotten it wrong.  And she has a legitimate point that the media didn't report that fact that makes Coons look bad.

(I would have gotten the "five freedoms" question wrong too, as I was never taught the Amendment that way.  Looking at the text I see how they derive "five freedoms."  I would have forgotten the freedom "to petition the government for redress of grievances."  I'm not proud of that fact.)  
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« Reply #14 on: October 21, 2010, 01:14:48 PM »

she's kind of right. It's saying that they governemnt can't form a state religion but it's not saying that religious assertations can't conceivably form the basis of law in a general way. You could argue this for quite a while but the way they are spinning this thast she just like doesn't know the consitution is wrong.

It's a difficult sort of issue. on the one hand we are "free" on the other hand we are part of what is known as western civilization which does tend to involve christian notions of truth, even if we were all to become atheists, we are stilll kind of "christian" in our way of doing things just by tradition and our legal system and so forth.
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