Want to make some easy cash?

Christine O’Donnell’s campaign is offering $1,000 to anyone who can show that separation of church and state is in the Constitution.

Wait, what’s that? They want that exact phrase, even though the concept is well understood through case law? Whoops, how silly of me to think a Teabagger running for office would have a better understanding of the Constitution than a five year old.

Apologies to all five year olds.


  1. drskyskull says

    Someone should point out to tea partiers that the Constitution says that you have the right to “bear” arms, but it says absolutely nothing about the right to own ammunition, or to fire weapons at all.

  2. says

    The only amendment that is to be interpreted is the second amendment. And that is only to be interpreted to mean that you can have as many guns as you want without any government interference.All other amendments must be taken literally. Just like the Bible.

  3. Annie says

    I love the part of the press release that states teaching evolution is teaching superstition. Project much?

  4. Stewie_Stewington says

    “Christine O’Donnell is correct and joins the ranks of many learned Supreme Court justices in demanding that our country return to the U.S. Constitution as it is actually written”So…white men can own black people again and women can’t vote?!?!?!Sweet!! Good times!!

  5. hippiefemme says

    I know it would blow through the $1000 (potentially plus some out of pocket), but I would happily send her a full set of the Oxford English Dictionary so that she can see how the words were used during the time the Constitution was written.

  6. hippiefemme says

    I really felt like something was missing from my life. I guess it was good, old-fashioned oppression! I’m glad she could enlighten me.

  7. drskyskull says

    I’m convinced that, when they said the right to “bear arms”, they literally meant you could carry around the arms of bears as weapons. :)I tweeted my suggestion, and that brought upset teabaggers to my twitter feed complaining about the second amendment, revolution, etc., demonstrating yet again that they are irony-deficient.

  8. Istophu says

    Well shit, I guess I’ll have to vote teabag this election after all; can’t argue with that logic!

  9. Georgia Sam says

    I’ll show Christine where separation of church & state is when she shows me where separation of powers, checks and balances, and limited government are.

  10. says

    I always felt that the clause preceding the phrase “the right to bear arms” (or whatever the exact words are) should be read as a condition… “a well-regulated militia being necessary…”… well, if that’s not true any more, then the right isn’t protected, surely? Sadly, this is not how case law or constitutional scholars read it.

  11. says

    I’d bet it could be done, in an academically rigorous way, by a good linguistic historian, a modern philologist, or a semanticist… if they’d believe in that sort of academic analysis, anyway… *rolls eyes*

  12. says

    And a lot of people in life sciences as well… stem cells, evolution (of any sort whatsoever)… it all just comes down to the fact that a lot of conservatives (mostly in the US, not meaning any unfairness) either deliberately or instinctively exclude logic from debates.

  13. Chris Decker says

    Actually, nowhere in the Constitution does it really even mention religion, or church, except in the First Amendment: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. So really, the Constitution does NOT provide for separation of church and state, except in that the government is not allowed to make any laws regarding religion.

  14. says

    Yes, actually, it does. Since congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. See how that works?OH RIGHT, ALSO, precedent. ‘Cause that’s how our legal system works. So, even if it wasn’t pretty clear that the government shouldn’t make laws regarding religion and therefore can’t establish a religion or ban it and all of the ramifications that follow: the courts have consistently ruled that this separation of church and state exists and they have done so for a bajillion years. So yeah, it exists based on precedent as well. Either way you look at it, the hyper conservative don’t have a leg to stand on.

  15. Chris Decker says

    Like I said, that’s the only mention of church or religion in the Constitution, and all it says is that Congress can’t make any laws about religion. Doesn’t say anything about not being allowed to pray before school, or in meetings, or anything like that. Simple and to the point, don’tcha think?As for precedent, well, that’s not the Constitution. Since the question was whether separation of church and state is in the Constitution, precedent doesn’t matter. (Don’t you just love logic from a Conservative?)

  16. Georgia Sam says

    You need to brush up on your supreme court decisions over the past 2 or 3 decades. Students most certainly ARE ALLOWED to pray before, after, or during school; in fact, the Court has ruled against a number of school administrations’ attempts to prevent them from doing so, when the prayer was student-initiated. What is not allowed is teachers or administrators telling students where, when, or how to pray.As for praying in meetings, if you are a Christian I would direct your attention to Matthew 6: 5-6.

  17. Kaoru says

    I see where you’re coming from, but it doesn’t say that Congress won’t make any laws about religion. It says, specifically, that it’ll make no law “respecting an establishment of religion.” That isn’t just saying that the state can’t make laws about religion, but rather that it can’t make laws that establish an official religion in some respect, hence why it’s called the “establishment clause.”You’re right in that it doesn’t say that people can’t pray before school or in meetings unless it’s specifically on school time because by having that prayer, you’re implying that whatever faith from which that prayer came is better than the others and moves toward making an official religion that the state supports. I see you’re playing devil’s advocate, but are the arguments really that poor that somebody who seems to know what they’re talking about can’t make them sound good?

  18. Chris Decker says

    Again, Supreme Court not the same as the US Constitution. There have been cases where prayers in school or certain religious-oriented student organizations have been banned. Still, these decisions have been based on local morals and feelings, rather than any constitutional reasons.Plus, never said I was a Christian. Said I was a Conservative…. Not always the same thing.

  19. Chris Decker says

    You’re right, Kaoru, with your statements about the First Amendment. Essentially, Congress isn’t allowed to make any laws or rules regarding religion. It doesn’t call for separation of church and state, though. I do understand why they don’t have a blanket prayer. However, my opinion is that if someone becomes offended because I say a prayer that doesn’t include their religion, then maybe they’re too sensitive about their religion. Also, if they’re not allowing a moment of silence, so that anyone can bow their head or pick their nose or whatever they want to do, that’s being too sensitive.

  20. says

    and of course O’Donnell joins the Iranians in believing that Law, Philosophy, Women’s Studies, Human Rights studies and Management are all evil and should be outlawed. It’s funny how a crazy Tea Party conservative and an Iranian Theocratic Mullah have the same ideas.

  21. reilly says

    I’ve been informed by some friends and relatives that the term teabagger is derogatory and offensive. So…I will henceforth be referring to teabaggers as Kochsuckers.

  22. loreleion says

    Supreme Court precedence is very relevant when interpreting the Constitution, though, and Jefferson’s correspondence pretty much cements that separation was the intent behind the amendment (not that I think original intent is always the best way to interpret the Constitution).Also, it’s not true that religion appears nowhere in the Constitution before the amendment. While not relevant to the separation issue, the no religious test clause appears is the original document.

  23. says

    ” A wall of separation would violate the 2nd part of the clause, violating THE FREE EXERCISE OF RELIGION.”What. WHAT.”There cannot be ‘free exercise’ with a wall of separation.”It is like a giant burning star of idiocy collapsed into a tiny stupid black hole, and then went into politics.

  24. cat says

    “establishment of religion” was a phrase with a very clear meaning in the late 1700’s, it meant state supported religious practice or official state religion. There is no vagueness in the statement at all, unless you fail to understand the meaning of the phrase “establishment of religion” in English. Also, you missed Article 6, section 1, clause 3 “The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”The thing that some dumbass conservatives make the mistake of doing is reading the bill of rights as unamended by the fourteenth amendment, which expanded most of it to protections against the states as well, rather than just against the federal government, despite the fact that when this principle is used with regards to the second amendment, they are fucking thrilled.

  25. Marcusbailius says

    Fun, isn’t it? What with (see Reilly’s comment, three above this as I type) so many people in the “tea party” movement really not understanding what a “teabagger” is and why it’s so funny to the rest of the English-speaking world, and now this piece of stupidity…There were reasons Jefferson et al. wrote organised religion out of the constitution. Christine O’Donnell and all the others, would do well to look at the history of the period leading up to the end of the eighteenth century and learn why.

  26. jose says

    I’ll give $3,000 to anyone who can point out where in the US Constitution says “This is a Christian Nation”.

  27. Sam says

    This is *not* from the constitution BUT, has this woman heard of article 11 from the Treat of Tripoli? It was signed just 20 years after the Constitution and by some of the same damn people. ” Art. 11. As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.”Sorry, but I hate the ‘but our founding father’s were christian and they meant *my* God. BlahSam

  28. Sam says

    Oops, that was Treaty of Tripoli. Geez. And, I didn’t know how to make “America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion” bold. Sam

  29. zuche says

    History would show that it was consistent with the Revolution’s goal of gaining support by fostering anti-Catholic bigotry, raising alarmist concerns about British “appeasement” of the French in Upper Canada.France responded to this with great shows of support for the new American nation, demonstrating the observation about politics and strange bedfellows.The principle is admirable. Some of the reasons behind it still fell far short of that standard.

  30. says

    My question to people like O’Donnell is — ‘so what if the phrase “separation of church and state’ isn’t in the Constitution?” Taking the First Amendment at face value (which isn’t feasible legally, but let’s just go with it), what do they think the implications are for government’s involvement in religion? How far do they think it allows government to go? And would they be willing to defend that principle in places where their particular religion isn’t dominant? I’d be verrrry interested to see someone put those questions to them.

  31. says

    She’s making a lot of noise about this to cover up the fact that she really didn’t know what was in the 1st Amendment, and to her good fortune, most people are getting caught up in her obfuscation and missing that point. Sure, it’s bad that she doesn’t know that the separation of church and state was Jefferson’s interpretation of the 1st Amendment and he might know something about original intent, sure it’s bad that she doesn’t know that the Supreme Court has been using the term separation of church and state since sometime in the late 19th century and has clearly interpreted the 1st Amendment that way since 1947 ( I guess the Vinson court was full of “judicial activists”), but the worst is that she had clearly heard this right wing talking point somewhere, and took it to mean that the whole establishment clause didn’t exist. You can clearly hear it in the debate. First she asks about separation of church and state, but when Coons recites the establishment clause to her she STILL asks, “that’s in the 1st Amendment?” like she’s never heard it before. She didn’t know that the 1st Amendment said, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion”. Now she’s trying to cover that up by pretending she was being literal, but make not mistake she didn’t even know that part that’s been interpreted as a wall of separation of church and state was in there in any form.

  32. says

    You wouldn’t even need that much linguistics. A little bit on the use of language in the period, followed by Jefferson’s letter to the Baptists, Madison’s letter to Robert Walsh and his Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessments, followed by a slew of Supreme Court Rulings beginning with Everson v. Board of Education (why are the best Supreme Court cases always “somebody v. Board of Education? It’s like Boards of Education were invented so the Court could smack down their stupid). I’d do it myself just for fun, or just look it up, someone’s probably already written it, but clearly she’s not interested in that. She’s made a $1,000 dollar challenge to find something that she and everyone else already knows doesn’t exist and she’s not going to accept anything but exactly those literal words. Which is really stupid, why not offer a billion dollars, or a trillion? You know you can’t lose because you’ve defined it so narrowly. What an ignoramus.The proper response is a counter offer: $2000 trillion if you can find the words “God” or “Jesus” or “Christian” in the Constitution.

  33. says

    I’m thinking of making my counter offer to this guy (I don’t think it’s actually O’Donnell’s campaign, just some guy who once managed her campaign acting on his own) but I’m afraid of what he’ll do with my email address.

  34. says

    It seems to me that Jonathon Mosely, the lawyer who made this offer, could avail himself of a free new laptop to Google things like: “separation of church and state”, “Thomas Jefferson”, “James Madison”, and “Supreme Court”. So I’ve taken the liberty of signing Mr. Mosely up for a free laptop. He might get added to some spam lists, but I don’t think he’ll mind, he’s getting a free laptop, after all.

  35. luke says

    It’s kind of sad to see that most people here are as uninformed about the Constitution as O’Donnell is. Chris Decker gets it, but almost everyone else here is basically just screaming “Go Team Ra Ra.”As atheists who want to keep religion out of taxpayer-funded institutions, it would behoove us all to learn a bit more about the Constitution, so that when we’re presented with this kind of thing we can say more than “Google it.”

  36. loreleion says

    Everyone here understands that the phrase “separation of church and state” doesn’t appear in the Constitution. We’re all just of the opinion that the phrase “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” implies a strict separation. Our opinion happens to be shared with a long history of Supreme Court precedent, legal scholars, Madison, Jefferson*, etc. But O’Donnel, Chris Decker, and you “get it” and know that the words on the parchment are all that count and there’s no need for interpretation or precedent.* “…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.” -Jefferson’s interpretation.

  37. HCFSDiscoman says

    Just to tell you, they won’t pay out, no matter how much case law you cite, or how well you understand the constitution.

  38. says

    There is a (very) long history of interpreting the clause in such a fashion; just as it prevents organised requirements of religious practice (on the part of all states, and the United States, thanks to the 14th, and for a long time understood to extend to their agencies and agents, such as public schools), it also prohibits the same from prohibiting free exercise and expression of religion (among other things). So a public school can’t actually ban people from praying (nor should it), but it also can’t conduct organised prayers. A moment of silence is a pretty popular compromise, and a good one in my opinion.

  39. zen says

    +1 cat, I was going to hit him with article 6 too. For that matter, he should also brush up on the history of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. Parts of RFRA were overturned by the supreme court as being to broad, but RLUIPA has held up.

  40. zen says

    There have only been bans when the prayers were lead by a gvt official or gvt employee in the context of their job function. In such cases they are viewed as a government endorsement of religion, and the supreme court has consistently maintained that philosophy. As far as you presenting logic, I’ll believe it when I see it.

  41. thx1183 says

    “Essentially, Congress isn’t allowed to make any laws or rules regarding religion”No, that’s not what it says. It says Congress can’t make a law establishing a state religion.

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