Where Did O’Donnell Get Her Facts About the First Amendment?

Christine O’Donnell and the First Amendment regarding Separation of Church and State

Constitution Cat astounded O'Donnell doesn't believe the separation of church and state is in the Constitution Photo credit:Who let the cat out of the bag by mava on flickr cc


The video clip of Republican Christine O’Donnell thinking she has one-upped Democrat Chris Coons in a debate before law students is astounding. Delaware Senatorial Republican candidate Christine O’Donnell claims she will defend the Constitution. Christine O’Donnell has no clue about the true meaning of the First Amendment establishment clause which clearly reveals the founders vision to have separation of church and state.

CNN: Christine O’Donnell blanks on First Amendment

In the above CNN clip on You-Tube Christine O’Donnell is asked what qualifies her to be a senator? O’Donnell states:

“For one, I have a graduate fellowship from the Claremont Institute in Constitutional Government and it is that “deep analysis” of the Constitution that has helped me to analyze and have an opinion on what is going on today to determine that our leaders in Washington have lost their way.”…”So number one it is my study in the Constitution.”

Gulp, gasp, Meaow! What do they teach people in the Claremont Institute?

Maddow explains First Amendment to Constitution regarding separation of church and state


Actually the Claremont Institute’s program that O’Donnell participated in is only a seven day course which she attended in 2002. The Claremont Institute is a conservative think tank based in Claremont, California.

It is frightening to think that O’Donnell thinks she has a grasp of the Constitution when she failed to understand a key Amendment of the Constitution that is part of the Bill of Rights. The first 10 amendments of the Constitution are known as the “Bill of Rights” and were ratified on December 15, 1791.

The problem is that Ms. O’Donnell and many of the Tea Party candidates do not understand the First Amendment. They claim that because there is not a literal phrase “separation of church and state” in the First Amendment, they deny that it actually indicates that the founders wanted to separate church and state.

Christine O'Donnell to Chris Coons: "Where in the Constitution is separation of church and state?"

This is very alarming. First of all, this country was founded on the premise of freedom of religion. Freedom of religion that would not force one religion on another, even if people of that religion were in the majority. However, Ms. O’Donnell and other tea partiers seem to completely miss this important point.

The revisionist history of many Tea Partiers is astounding. Delaware Republican Congressional Candidate Glen Urquhart claimed that Adolf Hitler was the one to first coin the phrase of “separation of church and state!”

Urquhart’s Gaffe Claiming Hitler first coined “separation of church and state”

Urquhart disputes Thomas Jefferson’s letter to a committee of Danbury Baptists in the state of Connecticut. Here is a direct link to the Library of Congress which includes the text of the letter. The key phrase regarding separation of church and state expressed by Jefferson in his letter dated Jan. 1, 1802 is:

“Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church & State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.

Why do all the tea partiers hold the same strange interpretation of the First Amendment? Where do these warped views of history and the Constitution from tea partiers originate from?

Glenn Beck has had Claremont Institute President Brian Kennedy on his show. Beck and Kennedy falsely claim that Democrats and progressives do not believe in the Constitution. It seems whatever Kennedy is teaching folks at his Institute will undermine “freedom” and the “Constitution” considering a former student of Claremont Institute’s program, Christine O’Donnell, does not even have any idea about the First Amendment.

Are these strange views of the Constitution part of Glenn Beck University? Glenn Beck and Brian Kennedy do not respect truth and seem to substitute their ultra-conservative ideology as their version of history.

How could anyone trust that these people will serve America when they do not even understand the real meaning of the Constitution?

The even scarier point is that Ms. O’Donnell thought the students that laughed at her were laughing with her. She seemed to chastise her opponent by saying in a questionning way, “The First Amendment does?”

Christine O’Donnell asked Chris Coons in the debate:

“Where in the Constitution is separation of church and state?”

Where are the real historians willing to stand up to Brian Kennedy, the Claremont Institute and Glenn Beck regarding their revisionist history that miscasts the Constitution in Tea Party terms?

Save Our Democracy

If Americans want to make sure the economy grows and our freedoms remain intact, then they better get out and vote, especially Democrats and Independents.  We cannot afford to have extreme Tea Party candidates in Congress that want to get rid of Medicare and Social Security and who disbelieve that the Constitution’s First Amendment establishes the premise of the importance of separation of church and state in the United States.

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