In a debate with Democrat Chris Coons this morning, Delaware’s Republican nominee for Senate, Christine O’Donnell, suggested the way she reads the Constitution, there’s no ban on the government establishing or influencing organized religion.
“Where in the Constitution is the separation of church and state?” O’Donnell said, according to the AP.
The question came as part of a discussion over science education in public schools. O’Donnell “criticized Democratic nominee Chris Coons’ position that teaching creationism in public school would violate the First Amendment by promoting religious doctrine.” She also seemed unclear about what’s in the Constitution itself.
“You’re telling me that’s in the First Amendment?” she asked, when Coons brought up the fact that the very First Amendment to the Constitution “bars Congress from making laws respecting the establishment of religion.”
Here’s video of the exchange (Constitution stuff starts at 2:37):
O’Donnell, of course, has a long history of supporting creationism as a valid scientific theory. In 1998 appearance on Bill Maher’s Politically Incorrect, O’Donnell called evolution “a myth.”
Here’s what that looked like:
Back at her Oct. 12 debate with Coons on CNN, O’Donnell said that localities should determine whether evolution is part of the curriculum in public schools. She was less willing to dismiss evolution as a concept than she was in 1998, however.
“What I believe isn’t relevant,” O’Donnell said in the debate. “What I will support in Washington D.C. is the ability for the local school system to decide what is taught in their classroom.”
Late Update: The Daily Caller reports that Team O’Donnell has put out a statement trying to clarify her comments.
“In this morning’s WDEL debate, Christine O’Donnell was not questioning the concept of separation of church and state as subsequently established by the courts,” said campaign manager Matt Moran. “She simply made the point that the phrase appears nowhere in the Constitution.”