An essay donated by author Robert J. Thorpe
Why Delaware’s Christine O’Donnell is correct
about the ‘Separation of Church and State’
R.J. Thorpe's essay refers to a televised debate between Christiane O'Donnell (R) and Chris Coons (D), who were candidates for the Senate in Delaware during 2010-OCT. 1 One of the topics discussed was the concept of the separation of religion and government, often referred to as the "separation of church and state."
The debate mirrored the two main interpretations of the U.S. Constitution (and other historical documents):
- The "strict constructionist" interpretation shared by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Alito, Scalia, and Thomas on the U.S. Supreme Court. They believe that the documents are to be interpreted literally according to the original intent of their authors.
- Those who view them as "living documents" whose meaning and scope is altered over time as the culture changes. A majority of justices on the U.S. Supreme Court have held this position in recent decades.
This is not a mere academic discussion. It is a fundamental distinction. For example, the concepts of personal privacy and separation of religion and government depend upon interpreting the Constitution as a living document. Major court decisions like Roe v. Wade (which guaranteed access to abortion during early pregnancy) and Livingston v. Texas (which decriminalized private same-sex sexual behavior by homosexual and bisexual adults) depend upon the concept of personal privacy. A literal interpretation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution simply prohibits congress from formally establishing a state religion as in the case of the Church of England in England.
Robert J. Thorpe: About Christine O'connor's comments:
Northern Arizona (October 20) – Are the words “Separation of Church and State” found anywhere within the U.S. Constitution? According to Senate candidate, Democrat Chris Coons, and many uninformed members of our government and the press, those words ‘are’ located within our Constitution. And now, Republican challenger Christine O’Donnell’s is being ridiculed in the press for asking Coons during an October 19th debate “You’re telling me that’s in the First Amendment?”
In his book "Reclaim Liberty: 3-Step Plan for Restoring our Constitutional Government," 2 Constitutional author Robert J. Thorpe states that:
"... secular socialists or progressives often cite the Constitutional separation of church and state… [but] never seem to mention that the words ‘separation of church and state’ are nowhere to be found within the U.S. Constitution, or any of our other founding documents."
Thorpe references Professor Jonathan Mott’s website, ThisNation.com, 3 concerning the First Amendment’s Establishment clause: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion...” According to Mott, in the competition of religious ideas, the government should remain neutral, neither favoring nor disfavoring any religion or even irreligion. Thorpe says that being ‘neutral’ is not the same as creating a ‘wall of separation’ where the government is totally void of religion. On the contrary, the Establishment clause only restrains the government from creating laws promoting or favoring one religion over another.
Mott also cites the Free Exercise clause: “Congress shall make no law… prohibiting the free exercise [of religion] thereof” and notes that most Supreme Court cases concerning ‘Free Exercise’ typically also concern ‘Free Speech and Assembly.’ The courts usually lean heavily in favor of an individual’s right of free religious practices over the concerns or mandates of the state.
According to Thorpe, many settlers came to America seeking freedom of worship and escaping state-controlled religion. But the upside-down nature of the First Amendment debates have become divisive and overbearing, to the absurdity of a student being punished by the conservative Colorado Springs 11th School District for wearing a cross to school. While school officials wisely backed-down and abandoned their position, Thorpe says that this kind of harassment would be considered “insensitive and unacceptable” if it had pertained to a Muslim student wearing a head scarf.
The increasing number of anti-religious government actions and ACLU lawsuits can be attributed to the unintentional misunderstanding, or the calculated misinterpretation of the Constitution and the true intentions of our founders. The blind zeal found in many politically-correct government officials, when sanitizing our schools and publics squares of all vestiges of traditional religious symbols and values, violates our Constitutionally protected rights of Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Assembly and Freedom of Exercise.
About Robert J. Thorpe:
"Robert J. Thorpe is a Constitutional-conservative author and lecturer who shares our Founding Father's Constitutional visions of a small, ethical, limited, fiscally responsible, accountable government that fosters self-reliance in its citizens, not dependency and handouts. Thorpe has worked for such companies as Walt Disney, Price Waterhouse, and the aerospace and software industries. Thorpe also taught for eight years at UCLA Extension and has lectured on the U.S. Constitution, the faith and convictions of our Founding Fathers and the need to reclaim our personal liberties and restore our Constitutional Republic.
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- "O'Donnell questions separation of church, state," Associated Press, 2010-OCT-19, at: http://www.google.com/
- Robert J. Thorpe, "Reclaim Liberty: 3-Step Plan for Restoring our Constitutional Government," 250 pages, paperback, (2010). Read
reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store
- Robert Thorpe's website is at: http://www.ReclaimLiberty.us
Originally posted: 2010-OCT-26
Latest update: 2010-OCT-26
Author: R.J. Thorpe