Separation of Church and State? Sez Who? Take the Quiz!
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 12:12:12 AM EST
Last summer, in the wake of Senator Barack Obama's speech regarding the role of religion in public life, I wrote several essays pointing out that Senator Obama and Jim Wallis' author of God's Politics, had internalized and expressed one of the central frames of the religious right, namely that  "secularists" or a number of variants (secular humanists, secular fundamentalists, etc) were somehow oppressing Christians (or religion, or people of faith, etc), or driving religious people "out of the public square."   They offered no evidence for this. It was, and is, a false and unsubstantiated frame featured by the religious right for a generation.

Now comes Democratic political consultant Mara Vanderslice who told The New York Times recently (as Talk to Action readers know) that Democrats should not use the phrase separation of church and state because it is not in the Constitution and because "That language says to people that you don't want there to be a role for religion in our public life"  I wrote that this argument is very close to, even indistinguishable from the argument advanced by the religious right.

Meanwhile, to underscore how fuzzy this area can get as religious right talking points bleed into the Conventional Wisdom, on the flip-- you'll find a news and public affairs quiz!  

Below, you'll find twenty quotes from Americans active in public life at various levels, taken from the pool of names, also listed below. (Hint: There is not a quote from every person in the pool..)  Each answer is worth 5 points. Answers (plus a bonus question!) are provided in comments.  Good Luck!  Have fun!

Sen. Sam Brownback - R-KS
George W. Bush - whatever
Sen.  Robert Byrd -  D-WV
Sen. Bob Casey - D-PA
James Dobson - head of Focus on the Family
Jerry Falwell - founder Moral Majority
Joseph Farrah - founder World Net Daily (a religious right news outlet
Katherine Harris - former GOP Florida Secretary of State
Sen. James Inhofe - R-OK
D. James Kennedy - Televangelist, Coral Ridge Ministries
Gordon Liddy - Watergate felon and radio talk show host
Tim LaHaye - co-founder, Moral Majority
Sen. Joe Leiberman - (Leiberman-CT)
David Limbaugh - religious right author; brother of Rush
Mike McCurry - White House Press Sectretary, Clinton administration
Roy Moore - Ex Chief Justice, Alabama Sumpreme Court
Eric Sapp - Sr. Partner, Common Good Strategies
Francis Schaeffer - conservative evangelical author and theorist
Jim Towey - Director White House Office of Faith Based Initiative
Mara Vanderslice - President, Commn Good Strategies
Jim Wallis - progresive evangelical author of God's Politics


1) The Left is dominated by secular humanists who do not believe in God and have advocated for a misinterpretation of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution's prohibition against the establishment of religion by the federal government as a "wall separating church and state." No where in the Constitution is there any mention of a wall separating church and state.
 1) Gordon Liddy, Jim Wallis, Eric Sapp, Jerry Falwell

2) Separation of church and state has long been the battle cry of civil libertarians wishing to purge our glorious Christian heritage from our nation's history. Of course, the term never once appears in our constitution and is a modern fabrication of discrimination.
 2) Jerry Falwell,  Eric Sapp,  Mike McCurry, D. James Kennedy

3)  ...we have to have elected officials in government and we have to have the faithful in government and over time, that lie we have been told, the separation of church and state, people have internalized, thinking that they needed to avoid politics and that is so wrong because God is the one who chooses our rulers. And if we are the ones not actively involved in electing those godly men and women and if people aren't involved in helping godly men in getting elected than we're going to have a nation of secular laws. That's not what our founding fathers intended and that's certainly isn't what God intended.
 3) George Bush, Katherine Harris, Joe Leiberman, Jim Wallis

4) Because of the near worship of the "separation of church and state" - the shadowy phrase culled from a letter written by President Thomas Jefferson to a group of Baptists - our nation is racing headlong toward existence in a Godless public square.
 4) George Bush, Jerry Falwell, Joe Leiberman, Mara Vanderslice

5) The line between church and state is an important one," ...[ but] "we have gone far beyond what the Framers ever imagined in separating the two. . . . We have practically banished religious values and religious institutions from the public square.
  5) George Bush, Joe Leiberman, Jerry Falwell, Francis Schaefer

6) I believe in a separation of church and state, but I do not believe in a removal of faith from the public square," he told the prisoners. "Our motto of our land is, 'In God We Trust."'
 6) Sam Brownback, George Bush, Robert Byrd, Bob Casey

7) The activists from the American Civil Liberties Union, Americans United for Separation of Church and State and other extremist groups are - consciously or unconsciously - driving people of faith from the public square.
  7) Joseph Farrah, Tim LaHaye, Eric Sapp, Jim Wallis

8) We get trapped very often saying that there's separation of church and state in America. There is, but there was no separation of faith and politics in the very founders who wrote it in the Constitution.
 8) George Bush, Bob Casey, Mike McCurry, James Towey

9) In modern law... many use "separation of church and state" with the intent to separate God, moral values and Christian principles from the state. It means none of that... The way people use 'separation of church and state' is not historically or legally accurate. What it does mean is that the state can't interfere with the church and can't interfere with our mode of worship and our articles of faith. And that's what 'separation of church and state' means.
  9) George Bush, Jerry Falwell, Roy Moore, Eric Sapp

10)I don't think the sky is falling or we've lost all our religious freedom--but I think Christians are being scrubbed away from the public square, Christian religious liberty is being suppressed, and Christians are being impugned by people for whom tolerance is the highest virtue.... People will suppress our religious liberty under the separation of church and state language, while they promote the concept of the state endorsing secular humanist values or those of other major religions. They demand tolerance from everyone, but they are willing to give none toward Christians.
 10) David Limbaugh, Jim Wallis, Eric Sapp, Jerry Falwell

11) Rather than "separation of church and state," our Constitution has an "Establishment and Free Exercise Clause," and that's the language Democrats should use to describe the legal principles that define the interaction of church and state in this country.

Our Constitution guarantees everyone a right to freely exercise their religion and forbids the state from establishing a single religion. On the other hand, the "separation" language used by many Democrats implies the complete exclusion of faith from the public square, thereby creating restrictions on the free exercise of religion.

  11) George Bush, James Inhofe, Roy Moore, Eric Sapp

12) Everyone today seems to think the U.S. Constitution expressly provides for separation of church and state. I guess you could ask any 10 people if that is not so and I will bet you most of them will say, well, sure that is so. And some would point out that is in the First Amendment. Wrong. Read it. It says:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

Where is the word ``separate''? Where are the words ``church'' and ``state''? They are not there; never have been, never intended to be.... Clearly their intent was to prohibit a single denomination in exclusion of all others, whether it was anglican or Catholic or some other.

 12) James Inhofe, Mike McCurry, Eric Sapp, Mara Vanderslice

13) In case anyone doesn't know, "separation of church and state" is not in the Constitution. It shouldn't be in our vocabulary as Democrats either.... it is often misused by secularists to attack any use of faith in the public sphere.... Our Constitution guarantees everyone a right to freely exercise their religion and forbids the state from establishing a single religion. On the other hand, the "separation" language used by many Democrats implies the complete exclusion of faith from the public square, thereby creating restrictions on the free exercise of religion.
 13) Bob Casey, Mike McCurry, Joe Leiberman, Eric Sapp

14)The separation of church and state is not in the Constitution.... It's not in the Bill of Rights. It's not anywhere in a foundational document. The only place where the so-called "wall of separation" was mentioned was in a letter written by (Thomas) Jefferson to a friend. That's the only place. It has been picked up and made to be something it was never intended to be.
 14) George Bush, James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, Gordon Liddy

15)The truth is, there is no 'wall of separation' in the Constitution, unless it is a wall intended by the Founding Fathers to keep the civil government totally out of the church.
 15) Robert Byrd, Tim LaHaye, Francis Schaefer, Mara Vanderslice

16) The words 'separation of church and state' are not found in the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence or the Articles of Confederation or any document of our history... The First Amendment to our Constitution basically embodies a concept of separation -- meaning that the state should stay out of the affairs of the church and of the relationship that men have with their God.
 16) Bob Casey, D. James Kennedy, Roy Moore, Mara Vanderslice  

17) Today, there are new fundamentalists in the land.  These are the "secular fundamentalists," many of whom attack all political figures who dare to speak from their religious convictions. From the Anti-Defamation League, to Americans United for Separation of Church and State, to the ACLU and some of the political Left's most religion fearing publications, a cry of alarm has gone up in response to anyone who has the audacity to be religious in public. These secular skeptics often display amazing lapse of historical memory when they suggest that religious language in politics is contrary to the "American Ideal."
 17) James Dobson, James Inhofe, Mara Vanderslice, Jim Wallis

18) Today the separation of church and state in America is used to silence the church. When Christians speak out on issues, the hue and cry from the humanist state and media is that Christians, and all religions, are prohibited from speaking since there is a separation of church and state. The way the concept is used today is totally reversed from the original intent...
 18) Katherine Harris, Francis Schaeffer, Mara Vanderslice, Jim Wallis

19) If we are committed and involved in taking back the nation for Christian moral values, and if we are willing to risk the scorn of the secular media and the bureaucracy that stand against us, there is no doubt we can witness the dismantling of not just the Berlin Wall but the even more diabolical 'wall of separation' that has led to increasing secularization, godlessness, immorality, and corruption in our country.
  19) Robert Byrd, D. James Kennedy, Gordon Liddy, Jim Wallis

20) President Bush does not want to proselytize or fund religion. We're talking about things like job training and substance abuse prevention, and opening up to small groups that have been shut [out] by the ACLU and a radical fringe that wants an extreme separation of church and state.
  20) James Inhofe, Joe Leiberman, Jim Towey, Jim Wallis

Those who would renegotiate the boundaries between church and state must therefore answer a difficult question: why would we trade a system that has served us so well for one that has served others so poorly?

Thomas Jefferson
Jimmy Carter
Gerald Ford
Sandra Day O'Connor

by Frederick Clarkson on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 12:25:58 AM EST

WWW Talk To Action

Cognitive Dissonance & Dominionism Denial
There is new research on why people are averse to hearing or learning about the views of ideological opponents. Based on evaluation of five......
By Frederick Clarkson (330 comments)
Will the Air Force Do Anything To Rein In Its Dynamic Duo of Gay-Bashing, Misogynistic Bloggers?
"I always get nervous when I see female pastors/chaplains. Here is why everyone should as well: "First, women are not called to be pastors,......
By Chris Rodda (180 comments)
The Legacy of Big Oil
The media is ablaze with the upcoming publication of David Grann's book, Killers of the Flower Moon. The shocking non fiction account of the......
By wilkyjr (99 comments)
Gimme That Old Time Dominionism Denial
Over the years, I have written a great deal here and in other venues about the explicitly theocratic movement called dominionism -- which has......
By Frederick Clarkson (93 comments)
History Advisor to Members of Congress Completely Twists Jefferson's Words to Support Muslim Ban
Pseudo-historian David Barton, best known for his misquoting of our country's founders to promote the notion that America was founded as a Christian nation,......
By Chris Rodda (106 comments)
"Christian Fighter Pilot" Calls First Lesbian Air Force Academy Commandant a Liar
In a new post on his "Christian Fighter Pilot" blog titled "BGen Kristin Goodwin and the USAFA Honor Code," Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan......
By Chris Rodda (127 comments)
Catholic Right Leader Unapologetic about Call for 'Death to Liberal Professors' -- UPDATED
Today, Donald Trump appointed C-FAM Executive Vice President Lisa Correnti to the US Delegation To UN Commission On Status Of Women. (C-FAM is a......
By Frederick Clarkson (115 comments)
Controlling Information
     Yesterday I listened to Russ Limbaugh.  Rush advised listeners it would be best that they not listen to CNN,MSNBC, ABC, CBS and......
By wilkyjr (79 comments)
Is Bannon Fifth-Columning the Pope?
In December 2016 I wrote about how White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, who likes to flash his Catholic credentials when it comes to......
By Frank Cocozzelli (228 comments)
Ross Douthat's Hackery on the Seemingly Incongruous Alliance of Bannon & Burke
Conservative Catholic writer Ross Douthat has dissembled again. This time, in a February 15, 2017 New York Times op-ed titled The Trump Era's Catholic......
By Frank Cocozzelli (55 comments)
`So-Called Patriots' Attack The Rule Of Law
Every so often, right-wing commentator Pat Buchanan lurches out of the far-right fever swamp where he has resided for the past 50 years to......
By Rob Boston (154 comments)
Bad Faith from Focus on the Family
Here is one from the archives, Feb 12, 2011, that serves as a reminder of how deeply disingenuous people can be. Appeals to seek......
By Frederick Clarkson (173 comments)
The Legacy of George Wallace
"One need not accept any of those views to agree that they had appealed to real concerns of real people, not to mindless, unreasoning......
By wilkyjr (53 comments)
Betsy DeVos's Mudsill View of Public Education
My Talk to Action colleague Rachel Tabachnick has been doing yeoman's work in explaining Betsy DeVos's long-term strategy for decimating universal public education. If......
By Frank Cocozzelli (55 comments)
Prince and DeVos Families at Intersection of Radical Free Market Privatizers and Religious Right
This post from 2011 surfaces important information about President-Elect Trump's nominee for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. -- FC Erik Prince, Brother of Betsy......
By Rachel Tabachnick (210 comments)

Respect for Others? or Political Correctness?
The term "political correctness" as used by Conservatives and Republicans has often puzzled me: what exactly do they mean by it? After reading Chip Berlin's piece here-- I thought about what he explained......
MTOLincoln (241 comments)
What I'm feeling now is fear.  I swear that it seems my nightmares are coming true with this new "president".  I'm also frustrated because so many people are not connecting all the dots! I've......
ArchaeoBob (88 comments)
"America - love it or LEAVE!"
I've been hearing that and similar sentiments fairly frequently in the last few days - far FAR more often than ever before.  Hearing about "consequences for burning the flag (actions) from Trump is chilling!......
ArchaeoBob (172 comments)
"Faked!" Meme
Keep your eyes and ears open for a possible move to try to discredit the people openly opposing Trump and the bigots, especially people who have experienced terrorism from the "Right"  (Christian Terrorism is......
ArchaeoBob (143 comments)
More aggressive proselytizing
My wife told me today of an experience she had this last week, where she was proselytized by a McDonald's employee while in the store. ......
ArchaeoBob (141 comments)
See if you recognize names on this list
This comes from the local newspaper, which was conservative before and took a hard right turn after it was sold. Hint: Sarah Palin's name is on it!  (It's also connected to Trump.) ......
ArchaeoBob (151 comments)
Unions: A Labor Day Discussion
This is a revision of an article which I posted on my personal board and also on Dailykos. I had an interesting discussion on a discussion board concerning Unions. I tried to piece it......
Xulon (144 comments)
Extremely obnoxious protesters at WitchsFest NYC: connected to NAR?
In July of this year, some extremely loud, obnoxious Christian-identified protesters showed up at WitchsFest, an annual Pagan street fair here in NYC.  Here's an account of the protest by Pagan writer Heather Greene......
Diane Vera (125 comments)
Capitalism and the Attack on the Imago Dei
I joined this site today, having been linked here by Crooksandliars' Blog Roundup. I thought I'd put up something I put up previously on my Wordpress blog and also at the DailyKos. As will......
Xulon (186 comments)
History of attitudes towards poverty and the churches.
Jesus is said to have stated that "The Poor will always be with you" and some Christians have used that to refuse to try to help the poor, because "they will always be with......
ArchaeoBob (144 comments)
Alternate economy medical treatment
Dogemperor wrote several times about the alternate economy structure that dominionists have built.  Well, it's actually made the news.  Pretty good article, although it doesn't get into how bad people could be (have been)......
ArchaeoBob (83 comments)
Evidence violence is more common than believed
Think I've been making things up about experiencing Christian Terrorism or exaggerating, or that it was an isolated incident?  I suggest you read this article (linked below in body), which is about our great......
ArchaeoBob (189 comments)
Central Florida Sheriff Preached Sermon in Uniform
If anyone has been following the craziness in Polk County Florida, they know that some really strange and troubling things have happened here.  We've had multiple separation of church and state lawsuits going at......
ArchaeoBob (77 comments)
Demon Mammon?
An anthropologist from outer space might be forgiven for concluding that the god of this world is Mammon. (Or, rather, The Market, as depicted by John McMurtry in his book The Cancer Stage of......
daerie (107 comments)
Anti-Sharia Fever in Texas: This is How It Starts
The mayor of a mid-size Texan city has emerged in recent months as the newest face of Islamophobia. Aligning herself with extremists hostile to Islam, Mayor Beth Van Duyne of Irving, Texas has helped......
JSanford (105 comments)

More Diaries...

All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. Comments, posts, stories, and all other content are owned by the authors. Everything else 2005 Talk to Action, LLC.