Steve Benen writing at Washington Monthly has his panties in a bunch. Apparently, he can't believe that Sarah Palin, actually believes that there was a role for religion within the outer ambit of the state at the time of our nations founding. This from Mr. Benen:
THE THEOCRATIC WING OF THE GOP.... A certain former half-term governor appears to be drifting even further away from the American mainstream. Over the weekend, appearing at an evangelical Christian women's conference in Louisville, Sarah Palin rejected the very idea of separation of church and state, a bedrock principle of American democracy.
. . . She denounced this week's Wisconsin federal court ruling that government observance of a National Day of Prayer was unconstitutional -- which the crowd joined in booing. She asserted that America needs to get back to its Christian roots and rejected any notion that "God should be separated from the state."
Palin added that she was outraged when President Obama said that "America isn't a Christian nation."
The amusing aspect of this is the notion that the United States would return to its roots with support for National Day of Prayer observances. That's backwards -- 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 far less amusing is the fact that Palin and others of her radical ilk reject any notion that "God should be separated from the state." It's the 21st century, for crying out loud. 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.
The separation of church and state has long been a concept that all Americans could embrace, and has served as a model for nations around the world to follow. For Palin to publicly denounce this bedrock American principle suggests she might actually be getting worse. . . .
. . . Update: Greg Sargent obtained a transcript, and it's worse than I thought. Palin not only thinks the Founding Fathers opposed church-state separation -- in other words, she thinks those who came up with the idea opposed the idea -- she also suggests religious people necessarily reject the constitutional principle. This is just astounding.
What is astounding here is the degree of Mr. Benen's historical ignorance. As to Madison and Jefferson vetoing a "national day of prayer," I wait to see that bit of historical fantasy. Lastly, as to the charge that Palin seeks to make America a theocracy, perhaps if Mr. Benen knew a bit more about Madison and Jefferson, he would understand how utterly ridiculous such a charge actually is. Mr. Benen is a pawn in the left's two centuries old war on religion - and not a particularly intelligent one.
Update: Greg Sargent, running a WaPo blog, the Plum Line, made a similar argument to Mr. Benan. Do they still teach history to journalists these days? Apparently, for these journalists, the history of religion in America begins with Everson.
Update: JP, writing at Texas For Sarah Palin, has a superb post up on the history of religion in America, and in particular, the history of "days of prayer" called by our government.
Update: Plumb Bob Blog also has an excellent post on this issue, take a deeper look at the Court's decision on the issue and some of the arguments the radical secularists are using to remove religion generally and Christianity in particular from the public square.