America's Founding Fathers may not have included the phrase, but the history is clear--they never wanted a Christian nation
Christine O'Donnell died for the far right's constitutional sins.
In the fall of 2010, the dilettante-witch-turned-Tea-Party-Senate-candidate sneered at her opponent, Democrat Chris Coons, when he pointed out in a debate that the First Amendment to the Constitution prohibits "an establishment of religion."
O'Donnell: Let me just clarify: You're telling me that the separation of church and state is found in the First Amendment?
Coons: Government shall make no establishment of religion.
O'Donnell: That's in the First Amendment?
O'Donnell paid with a thumping repudiation at the polls even in a year of far-right victories. But her mistake was not a random one. As Rush Limbaugh explained in defense of O'Donnell, "She was incredulous that somebody was saying that the Constitution said there must be separation between church and state. Those words are not in the Constitution." In 2006, Michelle Bachmann warned a Christian group that public schools "are teaching children that there is separation of church and state, and I am here to tell you that is a myth." This year's right-wing pinup, amateur historian David Barton, devotes his book Original Intent: The Courts, The Constitution, and Religion to the proposition that separation of church and state is "a relatively recent concept rather than ... a long-standing constitutional principle."
The attack on separation of church and state involves twisting words and reading history backwards, and it involves making an inconvenient part of the Constitution disappear. Most ardently espoused by loud foes of "big government," the attack aims to place government in charge of Americans' spiritual lives.