Delaware Tea Party candidate Glen Urquhart (yeah, same state as the anti-masturbation candidate Christine O’Donnell) told an audience that the
phrase “separation of church and state” originated from Adolph Hitler. Surprisingly, Urquhart knew about Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists but insisted the phrase was not in the letter.
Glen Urquhart is insisting that he was taken out of context and that was not really what he meant. So, to be fair, let us look at the entire context of the statement:
Glen Urquhart: “Do you know, where does this phrase ’separation of church and state’ come from? Anybody know?”
Audience member: “From the Devil.”
History teacher: “I do.”
Glen Urquhart (Pointing to audience member and laughing): “But I told you.”
History teacher: “No. I know. But I’m the history teacher. It was a letter.”
Glen Urquhart: “That is, actually, that exact phrase is not in Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists. He was reassuring them the federal government wouldn’t trample on their religion. The exact phrase ’separation of Church and State’ came out of Adolph Hitler’s mouth. That’s where it comes from. So the next time your liberal friends talk about the separation of Church and State, ask them why they’re Nazis.”
So what does Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists say?
“Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.”
I suppose a person could say that Urquhart was technically accurate because Jefferson says “separation between church and state” and not “separation of church and state.” But even if we were to give him that technicality, it still does not detract from the asininity of the sentiment.
Perhaps Mr. Urquhart should go back to school and relearn his history. I bet the history teacher in the audience would be willing to tutor him.
So I have to ask… what in the world is going on in Delaware?