It almost seems like a joke to ask “Is Duck Dynasty the real authority on the Constitution and The Separation of Church and State?” But at the 2014 Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame, seemed to have taken the role of “interpreter” of America’s most precious document. With mid-term elections looming, one has to ask; “Is this a wise move on the part of the GOP?”
At the Convention, Mr. Robertson tried to impress upon those in attendance that “We threw God out of the schools and the courthouse.” He then went on to say “Separation of Church and State. I’m telling you right here what the founding fathers said. Does it sound like separating God Almighty from the United States of America?”
So why are guest speakers like Mr. Robertson and fear driven rhetoric so damaging for the GOP with mid-term elections rapidly approaching? The answer is that the modern American citizen is more educated than the GOP gives them credit for.
For one, God has not been thrown “out of the schools and the courthouses.” While the U.S. Supreme Court (in the case of Abington School District v. Schempp, 1963) prohibits state sponsored prayer in schools, currently, at least 29 states under their own Constitutions, allow students time to privately acknowledge their faith.
For example, according to findlaw.com, the state of Texas under the Applicable Code Section Educ. 25.901 states “Student has absolute right to individually, voluntarily, and silently pray or meditate in a non-disruptive manner.” So while a school can not organize a religious prayer activity, students are free to pray in a “non-disruptive manner.”
As for Mr. Robertson’s take on what the founding fathers said of “Separation of Church and State,” the context sometimes gets lost. Thomas Jefferson(a founding father)in 1801 wrote in response to an appeal from the Danbury Baptist Association in Connecticut, regarding their religious liberties being infringed upon by their Protestant run state legislature, ” I contemplate with sovereign reverence 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.”
So in hindsight Mr. Robertson, you have made the point that our founding fathers were intent on protecting the American people, not only from religious persecution regarding their own personal faith, but also protecting them from civil liberty abuse by religious organizations with high political power.
So you see, Americans will see through this false righteous political ploy, and the power grab it represents. I also doubt Jesus would condone many of your policies.
So with respect to religious beliefs, no specific God is ever mentioned in the Constitution. So as the great Christopher Hitchens said, “Build up that wall Mr. Jefferson.”