First Amendment and church-state separation were debated Tuesday between Delaware Senate hopefuls Christine O'Donnell and Chris Coons. Her stance is akin to that of some tea party activists.
Delaware GOP Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell on Tuesday during a debate with opponent Chris Coons seemed to question whether the Constitution calls for a separation of church and state. So what’s her view of the First Amendment?
The First Amendment is the section of the nation’s founding document that deals with church-state issues, after all. The First Amendment reads, in part, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...."
To Ms. O’Donnell, it may be the second clause there – “prohibiting the free exercise” – that’s most important. That means the government can’t interfere with religion, she emphasized in remarks to National Review Online after Tuesday’s debate at Widener University School of Law in Wilmington, Del.
To O’Donnell, that means, for instance, that public schools should have the right to teach intelligent design as a theory of how life on earth came to be, along with the theory of evolution.
The First Amendment “gives them the freedom to teach that if that’s what they want,” O’Donnell told National Review Online’s “Battle ‘10” blog.
Mr. Coons, along with many constitutional law scholars, likely would see that example the other way around. They’d say that intelligent design, which holds that the universe is best explained as the creation of some form of larger being, is a religious belief, not a scientific theory. Allowing it to be taught in public schools would be to favor one particular religion over another – something prohibited by the “respecting an establishment of religion” clause of the First Amendment.
Confused? Let’s start from the top.