A synoptic history of the Constitutional principle of the separation of church and state (updated for 2012*):
James Madison, 1791: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.
Thomas Jefferson, 1802: The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment guarantees Americans a wall of separation between church and state.
John F. Kennedy, 1960: The separation of church and state is absolute. My church will not dictate my policy decisions.
Mitt Romney, 2008: The separation of church and state is relative. My church will dictate my policy decisions, but only to the extent that I will discriminate against the same people Christian conservatives would already be discriminating against anyway.
Rep. Bart Stupack, 2009: The separation of church and state is a fairy tale. My church will show up at the Capitol steps in a limo to dictate policy.
Rick Santorum, 2012: The separation of church and state is an abomination. "Earlier in my political career, I had the opportunity to read the speech [by JFK to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association in 1960], and I almost threw up."
*Originally published in shorter form in 2009, when I thought the process had probably already reached its lowest point. Now it appears I may have stand ready for further revisions from time to time, as the exigencies of Republican electoral politics require it.