A prominent Constitutional scholar has entered the fray to defend Christine O’Donnell from the people criticizing her for suggesting that the Constitution does not provide for the separation of church and state. And by “prominent Constitutional scholar,” we mean Rush Limbaugh.
In one of his signature rants this afternoon, Limbaugh excoriated O’Donnell’s detractors by claiming the left has used the shorthand “separation of church and state” as a rationale for excluding religious people from government — as evidenced by the profusion of atheists serving in national office.
“Are you telling me separation of church and state’s in the First Amendment?” Limbaugh asked. “It’s not. Christine O’Donnell was absolutely correct — the First Amendment says absolutely nothing about the separation of church and state.”
Quoth 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.”
“Separation of church and state” is a common, well understood shorthand for the first two clauses of that amendment. For Limbaugh, it’s a conspiracy.
“This is a modern and incorrect description of the prohibition of the establishment of a national religion,” he went on.
And the left has taken this to say that religious people can not be in government. And that you can’t teach something like creation in the schools while you can teach evolution because evolution isn’t religion but creationism is. Intelligent design can’t be taught because that’s a religion, evolution is. Yet both require faith because neither can be proved.
The audience, at Widener Law School, was unsurprisingly taken aback by O’Donnell’s question — which, to Limbaugh, is a harbinger of the decline of the American empire.
“Separation of church and state is not in the Constitution, and the fact that people laughed about this is what’s really scary.”
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at email@example.com.