Christine O’Donnell Unaware Of Constitutional Prohibitions On Teaching Of Creationism

Considering everything else we’ve heard from Christine O’Donnell, including prior statements which suggest a belief in creationism, it comes as no surprise that she supports the teaching of intelligent design in the schools. While a new statement, it is also surprising that O’Donnell (as with many other conservatives) is unaware of Constitutional restrictions on government regarding religion:

Republican Senate Candidate Christine O’Donnell today challenged her Democratic opponent Chris Coons on his statement that the Constitution disallowed the integration of religion into the federal government, asking, “Where in the Constitution is the separation of church and state?”

The exchange, which prompted laughs from the studio audience, came during a debate this morning at Delaware’s Widener School of Law, which was aired by WDEL radio.

In a discussion over the whether or not public schools should be allowed to integrate religion-based ideas into science curricula, O’Donnell argued that local school districts should have the choice to teach intelligent design if they choose.

When asked point blank by Coons if she believed in evolution, however, O’Donnell reiterated that her personal beliefs were not germane.  “What I think about the theory of evolution is irrelevant,” she emphasized, adding later that the school of thought was “not a fact but a theory.”

Coons said that creationism, which he considers “a religious doctrine,” should not be taught in public schools due to the Constitution’s First Amendment.  He argued that it explicitly enumerates the separation of church and state.

“The First Amendment does?” O’Donnell asked. “Let me just clarify: You’re telling me that the separation of church and state is found in the First Amendment?”

“Government shall make no establishment of religion,” Coons responded, reciting from memory the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. (Coons was off slightly: The first amendment actually reads “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”)

“That’s in the First Amendment…?” O’Donnell responded.

Also during the debate, O’Donnell stumbled when asked whether or not she would repeal the 14th, 16th, or 17th Amendments if elected.

“The 17th Amendment I would not repeal,” she said, before asking the questioner to define the 14th and 16th amendments, adding: “I’m sorry, I didn’t bring my Constitution with me.”

A later explanation doesn’t hold up:

O’Donnell’s campaign later defended her comments about the First Amendment in a statement, arguing that she “was not questioning the concept of separation of church and state as subsequently established by the courts.”

“She simply made the point that the phrase appears nowhere in the Constitution,” said O’Donnell’s campaign manager.

This is contradicted by her support for teaching intelligent design–showing that she is also unaware of the concept of separation of church and state and related legal rulings.

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3 Comments

  1. 1
    Ani Sangye says:

    RT @RonChusid: Christine O'Donnell Unaware Of Constitutional Prohibitions On Teaching Of Creationism #p2 #p21 #topprog http://bit.ly/cw21kH

  2. 2
    Timothy says:

    These kinds of exchanges belong in 8th-grade civics classes. (And in 10th-grade biology classes.) That someone can be nominated to run for a federal office and have such a meager – and warped – understanding of not only the United States Constitution, but the very web of life in which we live and how it came to be, should be an embarrassment to the people of Delaware, the Republican Party, and every American.

  3. 3
    Ron Chusid says:

    Timothy,

    Unfortunately not only are Republicans not embarrassed by such thought, many conservatives are actively promoting a revisionist history (as I’ve reviewed in several previous posts). Not only do they deny the intention of the Founding Fathers to develop a secular government with separation of church and state, they have the audacity twist the views of the Founders in promoting their reactionary and ignorant views. It is sad that in the 21st century we must continue to fight a battle over separation of church and state which should have ended with the founding of this country.

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