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Exclusive: O’Donnell Clarifies First Amendment Remarks



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In an exclusive interview with Battle ’10, Republican senate candidate Christine O’Donnell talked about her remarks made earlier this morning that the words “separation of church and state” are not present in the Constitution.

“It seems the AP and others are twisting it out of context,” O’Donnell said. “What I was trying to prove is that my opponent does not know the First Amendment.”

“What our constitution prevents is … government establishing a religion, but it also says that it won’t prohibit free exercise thereof,” argued O’Donnell.

O’Donnell’s original comment was made to address a question asked in a debate this morning about whether local public schools could teach creationism. Talking to Battle ‘10, O’Donnell said that if the local school board approves, there was nothing unconstitutional about a public school teaching the intelligent design theory.

“He’s [Coons] saying the school board has no right do that, that the First Amendment prevents that,” she said. “My position was that’s not true. It gives them the freedom to teach that if that’s what local schools want.”

“And he said federal government should stop that,” O’Donnell added. “He very clearly said … he would prevent local schools from teaching intelligent design.”

O’Donnell stressed that preventing schools from the possibility of teaching intelligent design would violate the First Amendment clause that Congress could not prohibit “the free exercise thereof” of religion. “He [Coons] forgot to quote [that] part,” she said.

In a statement, campaign manager Matt Moran said, “In this morning’s WDEL debate, Christine O’Donnell was not questioning the concept of separation of church and state as subsequently established by the courts. She simply made the point that the phrase appears nowhere in the Constitution. It was in fact Chris Coons who demonstrated his ignorance of our country’s founding documents when he could not name the five freedoms contained in the First Amendment.” 

O’Donnell also told Battle ’10 that race was “going very well.” Arguing that Coons would be a rubber stamp for the Obama/Reid agenda, O’Donnell said, “I don’t think people want more of the same coming from Washington.”



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