Wednesday, May 7, 2014

A quantum of umbrage: A synoptic history of the separation of church and state (revised for 2014)

(Last revised October 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, 2008The 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.

Bart Stupack,
 2009The 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."

Sally Quinn, 2012: The separation of church and state is impossible. “This is a religious country. Part of claiming your citizenship is claiming a belief in God, even if you are not Christian.” Agnostics, atheists, and other nonbelievers need not apply.

The Roberts Court, 2014: The separation of church and state is unconstitutional. Public meetings may now begin with explicitly Christian prayer, and those who don't like it are advised by Justice Kennedy to "ignore" it.

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