Robin Carnahan, whom I supported in my previous blog posting, unfortunately lost her bid for the U.S. Senate. But, fortunately, so did Christine O’Donnell.
Although not unexpected, I am greatly disappointed that Roy Blunt will soon be seated as the junior Senator from Missouri. In the previous posting I said I was voting for Carnahan partly because of her position on universal health care in contrast to Blunt, who voted against it and has indicated his desire to repeal the new health care laws. While repeal probably won’t happen, I can’t support a Senator who wants to do that.
In addition, in last Sunday’s Kansas City Star, the editorial supporting Carnahan ended by warning, “Blunt would protect the wealthiest at the expense of all others.” From his record, this, sadly, is true, I’m afraid, and that is another reason I voted for Carnahan. And just yesterday I read that Blunt has said, “There isn’t any real science to say we are altering the climate path of the earth” (posted by the Union of Concerned Scientists).
But what about Christine O’Donnell (b. 1969)? She was much in the news in the weeks before the election. There was a lot about her admitting that she “dabbled into witchcraft” while in high school, but I didn’t find that a matter of great concern. What bothered me and a lot of other people were her statements about the important issue of the separation of church and state.
In a debate with now Senator-elect Chris Coons on October 19, O’Donnell challenged her Democratic rival Tuesday to show where the Constitution requires separation of church and state. Of course, she is correct to the extent that the words “separation of church and state” do not appear in the constitution. But she is quite wrong if she thinks that the concept is not firmly there.
It is a historical fact that Baptists played a significant role in promoting the idea of separation of church and state and in securing the passage of the first amendment to the Constitution. Roger Williams (1603-84) was one of the first and most ardent proponents of religious liberty in what became the United States, and he wrote about “the hedge or wall of separation between the garden of the church and the wilderness of the world.” This phrase was picked up later by Thomas Jefferson.
Writing to the Danbury Baptist Association in 1802, Jefferson used the expression “wall of separation between church and state,” and this is usually understood as his interpretation of the establishment clause of the first amendment.
But even though O’Donnell was not elected yesterday, others with questionable views about the separation of church and state were. As Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said Wednesday, “Church-state separation is going to be under sustained fire for the next two years in Congress and in many state legislatures.” For example, John Boehner, the likely new Speaker of the House, has been rated 0% by Americans United, indicating his lack of support for the separation of church and state.
Note: Last month there was a six part series on “God in America” aired on PBS. The second sixty-minute segment was titled “A New Eden,” and it was largely about Thomas Jefferson and the Baptists who were the leaders in establishing the separation of church and state. This is available for viewing online at http://www.pbs.org/godinamerica/view/.