Thomas Jefferson wrote the following in a letter to the Baptists in Danbury CT: ... "I contemplate with sovereign [absolute] reverence [respect]—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."
In The Treasure of the Sierra Madre: Humphery Bogart's character Dobbs—challenges the bandit's leader, Gold Hat—who is trying to steal his gold with this now famous exchange:
That scene seems appropriate on so many levels in the debate of women's health issues—in particular though I refer specifically to Rick Santorum's blatant dismissal of the First Amendment and "the wall of separation between church and state."
I can see him challenging that the words: "Separation of church and state" are not there in a literal sense and therefore there is no such separation implied.
"Separation? There is no separation—I don't see no stinking separation!"
Santorum argues that the actual words "separation of church and state" do not exist in the Constitution and that [his] religious values and beliefs are the guiding principles upon which he decides the matters of legislation and public policies—his only concession is that the "government" should not interfere with, him or his church citing the second half of the First Amendment clause on freedom of religion—prohibiting the free exercise thereof".
I have heard that same fallacious argument before—uttered by, Christine, "I am not a witch," O'Donnell, during a debate—at a Widener University Law School—with Democratic candidate Chris Coons. The debate centered around teaching "creationism" in public schools—which is a pseudo-scientific theory touted by Ultra Right Christian Conservatives—as a suitable alternative for the theory of evolution.
When Coons said that the Constitution prohibits the teaching of religious doctrine in public funded schools, O'Donnell defiantly shot back—"Where in the Constitution is the separation of church and state? Coons calmly responded: "the First Amendment bars Congress from making laws respecting the establishment of religion.", O'Donnell asked with a challenging tone in her voice:"You're telling me—that's—in the First Amendment?"
You could actually hear an audible gasp of disbelief from the audience of law professors and law students, stunned at her ignorance. What has been a widely held basic principle of law—upheld by the Supreme Court—totally escaped her.
Like most Ultra Right Fundamentalist who read the bible literally O'Donnell sees everything in black and white making her incapable of understanding anything even remotely shaded by the nuance of language.
Clearly Santorum's own ignorance of the first part of that same clause—"shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion"— allows his blindly simpleminded reasoning to negate—the concept of—that "wall of separation"— a wall which he clearly does not see, understand, or even acknowledge. But which thankfully does exist.
Again ignorant of the historical context Santorum ignores the fact that many of America's founding fathers fled Europe to escape state religions that imposed their beliefs on others to the point of death. They were not ignorant of that fact. Why would anyone of sound mind re-impose or even leave open the door to such an abhorrent thought—as a state that could be swayed by superstition and irrational blind faith as a basis for laws that were neutral in their application.
I wonder how quickly Santorum would see "the wall"—of which he seems ignorant—if his Christian beliefs were jeopardizes by the emergence of another faith that became the plurality held view.
PREMISE: There is a diversity of religions in America. At this time Christianity holds a plurality. Which begs the question: If a faith other than Christianity became the plurality—for arguments sake lets say Islam—would he accept the influences of Sharia law—as he so readily proposes—that [his] Christian values and narrowly held views—should be included in public policy and legislation?
Of course Santorum's head would spin 360 degrees and he'd vomit pea soup in vehement opposition at the very suggestion—which begs the question—If Islam is not acceptable as a guide for governance—why is Christianity or any other faith?
Of course the answer is that none of them should ever be the basis for deciding legislation or public policy except in the broadest terms possible. E.g. While thou shalt not kill is a view that is enshrined in many faiths—it is also a commonly accepted human taboo out side of religion as well—making it universally held view. Whereas stoning a woman for adultery is not—making it inappropriate for the basis of American law. Just like birth control or abortions that are religious beliefs that should never be enshrined in American law!
Yet that is exactly what is happening in America—laws that violate human rights and ignore the Constitution such as Virginia's new "personhood law" that is an astounding repudiation of the Constitution. Regressive laws are being enacted—based solely on religious precepts that are not universally held—98% percent of women use birth control including Catholic women. Who is this law aimed at? What benefit does it provide society as a whole and who is harmed by them?
We all would abhor Sharia law—that would cut off a man's hand or stone a woman for adultery—so are we to accept— Santorum's equally—extremely narrow held views on women's reproductive rights—to the point of forcibly raping her with an intra-vaginal ultra sound when she seeks an abortion? That is the height of stupidity, making GWB look like a genius by comparison.
He claims that because the actual words were not spelled out [so that he could understand them] that they are not implied—one needs only look at the words of the original author—Thomas Jefferson when he wrote in a letter to Baptists: ... "I contemplate with sovereign [absolute] reverence [respect]—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."[added to help Santorum understand the essence of the quote]
To any but the most obtuse the meaning is clear—the Government cannot establish a state religion—and in the obverse—the Government shall not in any way prohibit individuals or groups from the practice of his or her religion.
What is lost on Santorum who must be reading at a fifth grade level and who's reading comprehension is equally suspect is that—unlike fundamentalist Christians who read the bible and interpret it literally as a matter of faith—the Constitution was written in broad inclusive manner of that period and used a different syntax and idiom—[the arrangement of words and phrases to create well-formed sentences in the language of that period]—than the modern day idiom. And needs to be read with an understanding of that fact.[added to help Santorum understand the essence of the idea]
If Santorum and the religious, socially, conservative, right prevail in including such issues as "birth control" and "abortion"—which are narrowly held religious viewpoints—into legislation—that the vast majority of Americans do not believe in or practice—they would by default constitute an "establishment of religion" by imposing those religious viewpoints on others thereby negating individual rights.
What Santorum fails to grasp is that—"his freedom to practice his religion without interference from the state"—also includes the opposite and more compelling idea—which is—"my freedom from the imposition of—his—religion by the state on me." Which maybe even Santorum can understand, but I doubt it.