The ‘Church and State’ Debate is Back
Don’t call it a movement, but Pennsylvania resident Rick Santorum and a Daily News columnist (and before that, Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell) are arguing that church and state aren’t separated. The presidential candidate says more than half-a-century later, hearing President John Kennedy stating the ‘separation of church and state’ belief still gets his blood boiling. He even calls the idea “radical.” The columnist, Fatimah Ali, calls the mere thought, “dead wrong…Nowhere in the Constitution is this separation mentioned.”
After checking out USConstitution.net, you might be surprised to learn that nowhere in this Constitution oddity is it mentioned that the U.S. is, in fact, a free country. The Constitution doesn’t guarantee equal rights for women, the right to privacy, Congressional districts or a jury of your peers at trial. It’s sort of based on concepts within the words themselves. For instance, we’ll take the idea on the aforementioned website: slavery was Constitutionally legal when the document was signed but the word “slavery” is not in the Constitution. These aren’t brand new or Earth-shattering developments.
So with all other problems solved, Councilwoman Blackwell is attempting to bring back that age old concept to Philadelphia City Council: prayer in school. She’s doing so because, according to Ali, “she’s following the wishes of her constituents who want stronger moral reinforcement for our young people.”
Again, let’s back up oh so quickly. While Ali is correct in saying the actual term “separation of church and state” doesn’t appear in the Constitution, and that the term, coined by Thomas Jefferson, appeared in a letter from him to the Danbury Baptists back in 1802, his invocation of the term wasn’t unprovoked. He was talking about…the Constitution. This fact is often forgotten by those in favor of Theocracy or Theocracy Lite/Diet Theocracy/Theocracy Zero. What Blackwell’s likely calling for isn’t that, and Ali says she certainly doesn’t want teachers leading school in prayer, but why do students need a special time to pray in public school? What does that do for anyone? Help me out here.
Santorum told a Massachusetts audience (in between slamming supposed hometown healthcare “RINO” Mitt Romney), “We’re seeing how Catholic politicians, following the first Catholic president, have followed his lead, and have divorced faith not just from the public square, but from their own decision-making process.” It’s hard to tell exactly where Santorum stands in this debate, because while he’s prone to give this speech, there aren’t any specifics. Does he want Christmas Villages legalized or does the Pope get to have his finger on the red button labeled “Nuke attack” in a Santorum Administration? Somewhere in between? Either way, we’re glad Santorum is bringing back his wingnuttery. Those glimmers of rationality were starting to scare us. We still think he’s best fit to get the nomination, especially as Sarah Palin’s vile, brash language of the past two years is finally coming back to haunt her with regard to Republican voters.