Palin: Chuch, State Shouldn't Be Separate

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This past weekend, speaking at the evangelical Women of Joy conference in Louisville, Kentucky, Sarah Palin implied that the Founding Fathers would have opposed a separation of church and state. "Lest anyone try to convince you that God should be separated from the state, our Founding Fathers, they were believers," Palin told the crowd. "And George Washington, he saw faith in God as basic to life."

Palin's comments hit a tender spot in the national conversation, coming only days after a Wisconsin court ruled the National Day of Prayer unconstitutional. Incensed Palin-watchers on the left have mobilized, taking the former governor to task for her shaky grasp of history (for what's not the first time this week).

  • Funny Until You Think About It  Washington Monthly's Steve Benen has some fun playing Palin's remarks against the historical record: "Thomas Jefferson and James Madison explicitly rejected state-sponsored prayer days. I'll look forward to the conservative explanation of how the Founding Fathers were godless socialists." But the implications give Benen pause. "There are some countries that endorse Palin's worldview and intermix God and government -- Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Afghanistan under Taliban rule come to mind -- but they're generally not countries the United States tries to emulate."
  • In a Better World...  After obtaining the transcript of Palin's remarks, Greg Sargent at The Plum Line shakes his head at Palin's "substandard history," which he just can't reconcile with her continued political clout. "There was a time," Sargent writes, "when this sort of thing would provoke widespread media mockery and perhaps even be seen as a potential disqualifier for the presidency."
  • Palin vs. Jefferson, Adams, Half of Tea Party  Keith Olbermann takes the research route, putting Palin's comments in dialogue with the writings of Thomas Jefferson--specifically, Jefferson's defense of atheism and his equation of the Bible with Roman creation myths. Olbermann also cites the 1797 Treaty of Tripoli, which John Adams signed and which states that "the government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion." He winds up speculating that Palin's insistence on state oversight of private religious practices may be why, according to recent polls, "the libertarian Constitutionalist half of the Tea Party wants nothing to do with her."
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