Friday, May 22, 2015

A synoptic history of the separation of church and state: Fourth update for 2015 (and it's still May!)

(This timeline was originally published in shorter form in 2009, driven by the somewhat-naive thought that the process of theocratic overreach in the US was probably already at or near its zenith. Now it appears that p3 must stand ready for further revisions from time to time, as the exigencies of Republican electoral politics require it. We welcome the task.)

1791 James MadisonCongress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

1802 Thomas Jefferson: The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment guarantees Americans a wall of separation between church and state.

1954 Dwight Eisenhower: The separation of church and state surely won't be hurt by adding "under God" to The Pledge of Allegiance in the name of anti-Communism, will it?

1960 John F. Kennedy: The separation of church and state is absolute. My church will not dictate my policy decisions.

2008 Mitt Romney: 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.

2009 Bart Stupack: 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.

2012 Rick Santorum: 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."

2012 Sally Quinn: 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.

2014 Rick Santorum (again): The very notion of the separation of church and state is "a Communist idea that has no place in America."

2015 Fifty-seven percent of surveyed Republicans: The separation of church and state is sacreligious, since the U.S. Constitution is a document inspired by Our Lord Jesus Christ, so it counts as Holy Scripture.

2015 Rand Paul, libertarian-of-convenience:  The separation of church and state is a one-way street: "The First Amendment says keep government out of religion. It doesn't say keep religion out of government."

2015 Jeb Bush, "moderate" GOP presidential candidate: The separation of church and state is nothing more than a "game" of "political correctness."

2015 Bobby Jindal, 2016 vice-presidential hopeful (and staunch opponent of executive orders, when it's Obama, who not that long ago told fellow Republicans they had to stop being "the party of stupid"): The separation of church and state can be disposed of by simple executive order from the governor, even after the GOP-controlled state legislature killed the same anti-LGBT bill the week before.


Yastreblyansky said...

JIndal's move is literally a kind of anti-veto, like signing legislation after it didn't pass? If so, that must put his at the climax point of a bunch of stories like this, like the one about the history of democracy, or the history of accusing other people of tyranny. Breathtaking.

Nothstine said...

Hello! I share your puzzlement. Mostly I was reminded of the classic "Animal House" scene:

This situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody's part - and we're just the guys to do it!