Saturday, October 23, 2010

Letter to WaPo: Wall of separation' vs the 'establishment clause'

Chicago Saturday PM 23 October 2010

Editors, The Washington Post


Washington Post writer Michael Gerson
asks in his Friday, October 22 column Christine O'Donnell's misconceptions of the Constitution” if the Delaware Republican Senate candidate denied “the existence of the establishment clause” in the United States Constitution. No, she asked her debate oponent Chris Coons where in the Constitution he finds the phrase “separation of church and state.”Mr. Coons could only answer by equating the phrase with the term 'establishment clause'.

Mr. Gerson's explanation of this seems to require using the word 'christian' ten times in a 700 word column, but leaving the connection to Ms. O'Donnell' conception of the Constitution entirely up to the reader.

Gerson eventually gets around to admitting that "separation of church and state" is no more than [Thomas] Jefferson's “gloss” of the first amendment , since its first use was by the founder in a January 1, 1802 letter addressing constituents' worries, not about the potential of the federal government forcing someone else's religion on them, but that they would interfere with the religion they already had.

Mr. Gerson seems to equate the recognition of the existance of God with a religion, which would be a big surprise to our first President, who made seven synonymical references to God (from 'Almighty Being who rules over the universe' to 'The benign Parent of the Human Race') in his first inaugural address.

Arnold H Nelson

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