It's easy to find extremist ideas that have been expressed by Christine O'Donnell -- but in almost all cases, "extremist" should be read as "unreasonably distant from reality," not "outside the conservative mainstream." Almost all of her "extremism" is common and popular with conservative evangelical Christians. This helps demonstrate how far from reality those Christians are.
Case in point is Christine O'Donnell's assertion that violence in America's schools is somehow a product of a lack of school prayer. Of course, students can pray pretty much all they want -- all that's been removed are state-written, state-sponsored, state-mandated, and state-encouraged prayers. So what O'Donnell is really saying is that if the state bureaucrats were allowed to write prayers for students to recite every day, there would be less school violence.
That's silly, but you'll find a lot of conservative evangelicals saying basically this, over and over. It's an article of faith. Since when did faith have anything to do with facts?
"We took the Bible and prayer out of public schools, and now we're having weekly shootings practically," O'Donnell, then a Christian activist, said in August 1998 during an appearance on ABC's "Politically Incorrect."
She didn't cite any sources and defended her statement when host Bill Maher and other guests scoffed. She prefaced: "My point is there are consequences to our actions, and if we as a nation tolerate sin, generations to come will reap the effects."
Source: Raw Story
To be fair, it's true that there are consequences for our actions -- but this is a curious statement in this context from a politician who is so staunchly pro-gun and who has been endorsed by the National Rifle Association. If she were serious about linking actions to consequences in a factual manner, she'd take the time to look at the nation's gun laws and gun policies first and prayer second.
To make it easy to see why Christine O'Donnell's argument is really a fallacy, consider another series of momentous legal, political, and social events which happened around the same time: Civil Rights and School Integration. How many opponents of church/state separation are willing to argue that the decline in school performance and increase in both school and social ills are due to Civil Rights and School Integration? Not many -- but, from a correlative perspective, that is no less valid than attributing our social problems to the elimination of state-mandated school prayer.
In Kids Who Kill: Confronting Our Culture of Violence, Mike Huckabee offered a similar reaction to the Jonesboro, Arkansas school shooting:
Despite all our prosperity, pomp, and power, the vaunted American experiment in liberty seems to be disintegrating before our very eyes. ...
Abortion, environmentalism, AIDS, pornography, drug abuse, and homosexual activism have fragmented and polarized our communities. ...
It is now difficult to keep track of the vast array of publicly endorsed and institutionally supported aberrations - from homosexuality and pedophilia to sadomasochism and necrophilia.
How can it be that people who are exercising their liberties are undermining the American experiment in liberty? Perhaps an answer lies in how often religious conservatives complain about people who "abuse" their liberty by engaging in behavior that conservatives dislike. For such people, "liberty" exists solely to believe the "truth" of Christianity and obey the "truth" of Christian laws. There is no liberty in falsehood, error, heresy, and sin.
The fact of the matter is, our social problems are complex, their origins are complex and their solutions will be complex. Even if the lack of official school prayers contributed anything at all to those problems, it would be invalid and simplistic to focus only on them as some sort of magic-bullet solution. As it is, no actual causal connection has been demonstrated by anyone -- all people can do is point to a correlation in time and claim, without basis, that this alone justifies a causal relationship.
But maybe "simplistic" is the best that politicians like Mike Huckabee and Christine O'Donnell have to offer.