The revelations came when Sharron Angle was interviewed by Jon Ralston in his "Face to Face" program. Angle was asked about testimony she gave in 1995 to the state Assembly in 1995 when she criticized a voucher program without money for private religious schools:
"The bill is exclusionary of many private religious schools and Ms. Angle believed that to be an un-American concept, and the tenant of the separation of church and state is an unconstitutional doctrine. She referred to it as a politically correct bias wrapped in appealing language."
Ralston quoted the above then proceeded:
Ralston: The separation of church and state arises out of the Constitution.
Angle: No, it doesn't, John.
Ralston: Oh it doesn't? Oh, the Founding Fathers didn't believe in the separation of church and state, the Establishment Clause, the First Amendment?
Angle: Actually, Thomas Jefferson has been misquoted, like I've been misquoted out of context. Thomas Jefferson was actually addressing a church and telling them through his address that there had been a wall of separation put up between the church and the state precisely to protect the church.
Ralston: So there should be no separation.
Angle: To protect the church from being taken over by a state religion. And that's what they meant by that.
Source: Crooks & Liars
So, the separation of church and state doesn't arise out of the Constitution... but there should be separation to "protect the church" from the state? Huh? First Sharron Angle denies that the separation of church and state really is constitutional, then she proceeds to explain what she thinks separation of church and state is "really" about.
I'll ignore the fact that Sharron Angle is just repeating a popular myth about church/state separation -- that it is only supposed to function in one direction -- because her desperate confusion over her own beliefs is far more significant. She wants to be a U.S. Senator and considers herself qualified to hold that office, but she can't even coherently state her own political positions.
Fortunately, Angle also reveals just how important church/state separation really is when she is asked about her views on abortion:
Manders: I, too, am pro life but I'm also pro choice, do you understand what I mean when I say that.
Angle: I'm pro responsible choice. There is choice to abstain choice to do contraception. There are all kind of good choices.
Manders: Is there any reason at all for an abortion?
Angle: Not in my book.
Manders: So, in other words, rape and incest would not be something?
Angle: You know, I'm a Christian and I believe that God has a plan and a purpose for each one of our lives and that he can intercede in all kinds of situations and we need to have a little faith in many things.
Source: Huffington Post
It's bad enough that she would make abortion a crime no matter what the circumstances, but for our purposes here it's her reasoning which we should focus on: it's because she believes "God has a plan and purpose" for us all. In other words, abortion is wrong because it would be an attempt to thwart God's plans. Setting aside the fact that maybe abortion is as much a part of God's plan as rape, Sharron Angle's argument here boils down to nothing more than: abortion is wrong because of what I think my god would want.
This is exactly the sort of "reasoning" which church/state separation is supposed to protect us from. It's not just about protecting churches from the state, but also about protecting individual citizens from churches and religious believers using the power of the state to impose their religious dogmas on us all. If the state makes abortion a crime because "God has a plan," it isn't acting to protect life but rather to privilege certain religious beliefs and impose religious standards on everyone.
Once again, though, Sharron Angle also managed to reveal just how confused she is about her own positions:
When Ralston challenged her comments to a Reno conservative talk show host that abortion should not be available even in the case of rape or incest, Angle said she values life.
"You want government to go and tell a 13-year-old child who's been raped by her father she has to have that baby?" Ralston asked.
"I didn't say that," she said. "I always say that I value life."
She went further to say she believes government should stay out of the issue of abortion, but it decided to insert its control after the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.
"The government decided to get involved in this, not me," she said. "I'm just defending my position."
Is it possible to be any more incoherent? I doubt it -- her original statement was unambiguous that a 13-year-old child raped and impregnated by her father should be forced by the state to carry the pregnancy to term under threat of legal punishment. It seems that she didn't actually think much about what this meant because as soon as she is challenged on the implications of her position, she tries to weasel out of it by insisting that legal abortion mans that the government is "involved" -- as if there is no government involvement by making abortion a crime!
I'll bet she sincerely and truly believes that the government gets involved when it's not allowed to criminalise some action but stops being involved when it prosecutes and imprisons people for some action. It's almost makes sense if you remember how many Republcians are in favor of privatizing every facet of the government, including law enforcement and prisons.
From beginning to end, Sharron Angle's positions are confused, incoherent, and irrational -- but they are precisely what define right-wing Christianity and right-wing conservatism in America today. Sharron Angle isn't an aberration in American conservatism or American Christianity. Maybe 20 years ago she might have been, but today she's the mainstream.