Given the delusional babbling and laughing by the EOMs (Equal Opportunity Morons) in the Delaware Senate debate, where self-proclaimed constitutional expert Christine O’Donnell forgot what’s in the 14th, 16th and 17th amendments, where her intellectual opponent Chris Coons couldn’t name the five freedoms discussed in the 1st amendment, and where the audience of highly credentialed law students showed their collective stupidity when they laughed at O’Donnell’s technically correct assertion that the first amendment contains no reference to the separation of church and state, I thought this would be illuminating.
I am not a constitutional history scholar, so this was a shocker. The source of this tidbit, by the way, is impeccable.
The first mainstream figures to favor separation after the first amendment was adopted were Jefferson supporters in the 1800 election, who were trying to silence Northern clergy critical of the immoral Jeffersonian slaveholders in the South.
I get it. Separation of church and state was a way for slaveholders in Virginia and the rest of the South to keep the busy-body Christians from sticking their noses into the business of slavery. I had no idea.
Separation was a crucial part of the KKK’s jurisprudential agenda. It was included in the Klansman’s Creed (or was it the Klansman’s Kreed?). Before he joined the Court, Justice Black was head of new members for the largest Klan cell in the South. New members of the KKK had to pledge their allegiance to the “eternal separation of Church and State.” In 1947, Black was the author of Everson, the first Supreme Court case to hold that the first amendment’s establishment clause requires separation of church & state. The suit in Everson was brought by an organization that at various times had ties to the KKK.
So separation of church and state was first used by the slaveholders of the 1800s. It then became the legal agenda of the Robert-Byrd-era KKK of the 1940s. Seems as though the Klan wanted to keep those pesky, empathetic Christians out of their business.
Who knew? I guarantee you, no one at the Widener Law School knew this history. But then they probably don’t know what happened in 1773 either.