Wall of Separation between Rush and Reality

Rush Limbaugh is fulminating today about how Christine Crazypants is right about there being no mention of separation of church and state in the US Constitution. Chrissy Crazy and Chris Coons were debating each other because they’re the two C’s running for Senator from Delaware.

Chrissie took umbrage with Chris’s defense of separation of church and state as justification for not teaching creationism in public schools. She asked, Where in the constitution is separation of church and state?

Of course, she’s technically right–the phrase separation of church and state does not appear in the Constitution. It’s still a stupid question to ask. How about asking, Where in the constitution does it say blacks should have the right to vote? The word blacks is nowhere in the Constitution.

(To be fair to Chrissie, rags like the LA Times are getting the story wrong and spinning her statements during the debate as if they were incredulous questions, as if she didn’t know whether or not the Constitution addresses separation of church and state, not that she believes it doesn’t. Chrissie’s attitude about c&s is regularly defended by Limbaugh, Medved, Hannity, Beck et. al.)

However, it is well-understood, except by in-denial right-wing Christian fundamentalists and their fellow-travelers (I don’t want to exclude Medved) that “separation of church and state” is a common and accurate paraphrase of the meaning of the First Amendment. At least that’s what Thomas Jefferson thought, when he coined the phrase:

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.

Conservatives who respect original intent ought to damn well respect separation of church and state. Intent about the meaning of the Bill of Rights doesn’t get much more original than Thomas Jefferson, does it? Do any of you Christianists honestly think that Madison would cavil at Jefferson’s eloquent summary of what the First Amendment is all about?

Christianists, try to think straight for 5 minutes about stuff that impinges on your religious beliefs and your need to make the rest of us pay them lip service: You’re not going to win on this. You look like Luddite jackasses when you try. Game over, realize it and quit making excuses and demanding do-overs.

Hardly any of the teachers will teach your creationist crap in science class like you think they should, even if you get it injected into the curriculum. Boycott the schools, home educate, compete with the schools, attack the people you despise on fronts where you can win. Do what the Mormons do–they send all their kids to an hour of brainwashing every morning to counteract what the school is telling them.

Realize this: nobody who wouldn’t sit next to you in Church next Sunday gives a shit what you have to say about the origin of species. Or about your Phariseeical parsing of the First Amendment. Get over it, admit you’re not going to get the rules changed in your favor, and use that separation of church and state thing to your advantage. There’s a lot there to use, if you’ll stop pissing in your own punchbowl and praying it will turn to wine.

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2 Responses to Wall of Separation between Rush and Reality

  1. JLZ says:

    I have heard Christine O’Donnell a few times now and have actually been quite impressed as to how sharp she is in coming back on her opponent in debate. I believe after hearing the sound bite regarding the separation of Church and State that she made that she was rather questioning her opponent as to “his” actual knowledge of the issue in the Constitution, not that she didn’t know.
    Certainly, the amendment is up for interpretation, but I do believe that the writers only meant that no one religion could dictate how the country would be run. We still have our slogan on our money, “In God We Trust”. Our founding fathers were very God fearing men; they didn’t mean to totally take away God in the picture all together.
    I am really disappointed how the media is totally distorting what she said. At least she won’t be an Obama lackey like Coons. What I have heard of him, he sounds like an idiot.

  2. Scipio says:

    @JLZ:

    I have to admit she’s done quite a bit better than I thought she would. In terms of articulating her positions (and actually knowing what she thinks), Crazy Chrissy is definitely head and shoulders above Sarah Palin.

    What CC hasn’t learned yet is how to resist punching tarbabies.

    I agree with your take that CC knew exactly what she thought about the First Amendment, and she doesn’t think it means separation of church and state. But she should never have gotten into the evolution/creationism/curriculum quagmire.

    Just a fun historical fact: “In God We Trust” wasn’t put on US coins until 1865 and it wasn’t universal till the late ’30’s. It didn’t start showing up on paper money till the late 1950’s. Organized lobbying efforts by religious denominations got it pushed through, just like conservative Catholics got “under God” shoehorned into the pledge in the early 1950’s as an eff you to “godless communism.”

    At least several, if not the majority of the primary intellectual leaders of the American Revolution were anything but God-fearing and nowhere near being Orthodox Christians. Christians who want to claim the American Revolution as their own point to statements by many of the founders that are typical of rhetoric of the day: pro forma declarations of generic piety and dependence on providence. These flourishes are strikingly contradicted in very specific terms by many other statements of the founders, and by their usage of “code words” in vogue with non-Christian philosophers. For example, Jefferson’s appeal to “Nature’s God” in the Declaration is a Deistic formulation.

    One oddity that I’ve never seen Christians adequately address is the curious absence of even the normal rhetorical curtsey’s toward God in the US Constitution. In a document supposedly inspired by the Christian God, you’d think he’d at least get a shout out. Instead, the only mentions of religion in the Constitution are a scold (no religious tests for public office) and restrictions (in the First Amendment). Given the times, given the supposed nearly universal devoutness of the Founders, how is it possible that the Constitution could end up 100% Christianity-free?

    It’s also not a lot of help to the Christians who want to co-opt the founders that there were heavy social and legal penalties for professing unbelief. Just look at the horrible things that the Christians did to Thomas Paine after he wrote “The Age of Reason.” And what they said about Jefferson when he was president. You might as well claim that everyone in Communist China who pays lip service to the Party really believes in it.

    No fair-minded person can question that Paine, Jefferson, Madison and Ethen Allen were unbelievers, and ardent unbelievers–they all wrote scathing denunciations of Christianity. It’s also pretty hard to claim that John Adams, Ben Franklin, or Alexander Hamilton embraced Jesus as their Lord and Savior. The jury is out on George Washington–but the evidence certainly is mixed, and given the times, the preponderence of it goes toward disconfirming his orthodoxy.

    Anyhow, thanks for stopping by–we can agree to disagree on this subject unless you feel like researching it deeply enough to become a bore on it like me.

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