Republican candidate Christine O’Donnell
has put her foot in it again, with a question over the separation of church and
In a debate in front of an audience of law
students and attorneys at Widener
challenged her rival, Democrat Chris Coons, himself an attorney, over the
separation of church and state in the constitution.
"Where in the Constitution is
separation of church and state?" O’Donnell asked Coons, amid audible gasps
and laughter from the crowd.
Coons replied that O’Donnell had just
revealed her fundamental misunderstanding of what our Constitution is. “... The
First Amendment establishes a separation." At
which O’Donnell interrupted him to again ask "The First Amendment does?
... So you're telling me that the separation of church and state, the phrase
'separation of church and state,' is in the First Amendment?"
O’Donnell’s campaign were quick to issue a
statement clarifying that she was only questioning whether the exact phrase was
in the Constitution, not whether the concept was implied in the First Amendment
Both candidates used the debate to try and
imply that the other was not in proper understanding of the Constitution. The
portion of the Constitution in question states:
"Congress shall make no law respecting
an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or
abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people
peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of
The phrase “separation of Church and State”
is traced back to Thomas Jefferson.