Christine “I’m Not A Witch” O’Donnell , Delaware’s aspiring senator, is now making headlines for current events (as opposed to youthful indiscretions): her confusion at yesterday’s debate with Democratic opponent Chris Coons over what the First Amendment says about religion.

Here’s a video of the exchange. If you’re pressed for time, “separation of church and state” comes up at minute 2:38 and 5:45 and 7:03.


Everyone seems to be covering this — so much for keeping the campaign to just Delaware media outlets — so check out the AP, CNN and GetReligion for more on this story.

Meanwhile, in O’Donnell’s defense, although the First Amendment does call for the government to neither establish nor interfere with religious practice, it doesn’t actually contain the phrase “separation of church and state” — that came from Founding Father Thomas Jefferson, in a different document. 

If you watched “God in America” on PBS last week — I’m still catching up, but I did catch the first four hours — you’ll know that TJ, while pretty much the opposite of an evangelical Christian (Stephen Prothero even describes him as “spiritual, not religious”), had defended the rights of Virginia’s Baptists to worship freely, which is probably what prompted him to include the following in the First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…

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