He’s Not a Witch, But Ken Buck Has a Christine O’Donnell Moment

Christine O’Donnell, the Republican candidate for Senate in Delaware, has been widely mocked for her infamous “I am not a witch” TV ad, and more recently, for her statements during a debate in which she questioned whether the U.S. Constitution calls for a separation of church and state. Those comments made national headlines, and now they’re pointing a similar spotlight back at Colorado.

The reason? It would seem that Colorado Senate candidate Ken Buck actually has stronger words than O’Donnell on the subject. As Think Progress writes, Buck had this to say at a forum for Republican Senate candidates last year:

I disagree strongly with the concept of separation of church and state. [Pols emphasis] It was not written into the Constitution. While we have a Constitution that is very strong in the sense that we are not gonna have a religion that’s sanctioned by the government, it doesn’t mean that we need to have a separation between government and religion.

Here’s Buck’s statement in all its YouTube glory:

We don’t need to tell you how bad this looks for Buck. As anybody with a 6th grade knowledge of American history can tell you, the separation of church and state isn’t some crazy liberal theory — it was perhaps the primary reason that this country was founded.

In the same statement above, Buck is also critical of President Obama for renaming the White House Christmas Tree the “Holiday Tree.” Nevermind that this never actually happened.

73 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. bjwilson83 says:

    Where did you learn your revisionist history?

    This country was founded so that people could worship God as they chose. But God and religion were very much a part of government. Separation of church and state is found nowhere in the founding documents. It was only something written later by Jefferson, probably the least religious of the founders.

    The country was most certainly NOT founded in order to change “Christmas trees” to “Holiday trees”.

    • studmuffin says:

      Doesn’t make it true.  

    • Colorado Pols says:

      We’re not talking a matter of opinion. Read the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause in the First Amendment of the Constitution. The Supreme Court has ruled on this repeatedly. There’s no debate to be had on this.  

      • Cartesian Doubt says:

        Facts have no place in his arguments, though.

      • bjwilson83 says:

        Where there’s smoke there’s fire. You guys must really hate Christians. In the language of the left, you would be called a Christophobe.

        • SSG_Dan says:

          Lemon vs Kurtzman, 1971. The Supreme Court ( you know, the highest court in the 3rd branch of government) rules that there is a separation of church and state. PERIOD.

          This leads to The Lemon Test – go ahead and use that gov’t server and do a Google search. You can also make a sstop here:


          Afterwards, you can check to see if the primer is dry on your mid-term fender project…

        • Froward69 says:

          All religions are equal in the eyes of the federal government and in the eyes of true patriotic Americans.

          to include those that chose not to believe in any religion. these Americans are called atheists. They are just as equal as any other.

          What you are espousing bj is intolerance to All but Christians. Thats NOT an American trait.

        • Voyageur says:

          As well as a fraud and a liar.

          • Sir Robin says:

            BTW, I’m a world class Bridge player (therefore the metaphor) NOT a racist.

            • Voyageur says:

              I actually found a reference to it as Macedonians being very blunt and calling a spade a spade.  Personally, I prefer to call a spade an earth removal system.  

                  • Voyageur says:

                    To “call a spade a spade” is to speak honestly and directly about a topic, specifically topics that others may avoid speaking about due to their sensitivity or embarrassing nature. Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (1913) defines it as

                    ” To be outspoken, blunt, even to the point of rudeness; to call things by their proper names without any “beating about the bush”. ”

                    Its ultimate source is Plutarch’s Apophthegmata Laconica (178B) which has a fig a fig, and a trough a trough”.

                    The phrase was introduced to English in 1542 in Nicolas Udall’s translation of Erasmus, Apophthegmes, that is to saie, prompte saiynges. First gathered by Erasmus:

                       Philippus aunswered, that the Macedonians wer feloes of no fyne witte in their termes but altogether grosse, clubbyshe, and rusticall, as they whiche had not the witte to calle a spade by any other name then a spade.

                    It is evident that the word spade refers to the instrument used to move earth, a very common tool. The same word was used in England and in Holland, Erasmus’ country of origin.

                    The Oxford English Dictionary records a more forceful variant, “to call a spade a bloody shovel”, attested since 1919. It is clear that the term shovel is used as a comparable but bigger tool than a spade.

                    The phrase predates the use of the word “spade” as an ethnic slur against African-Americans, which was not recorded until 1928; however, in contemporary U.S. society, the idiom is often avoided due to potential confusion with the slur.[1]

    • Froward69 says:

      All the religious leaders from all over Philadelphia and Pennsylvania linked arms together and led Ben’s Casket to the Cemetery. All of them gave eulogies heralding the SEPARATION of Church From the new Government.

      George Washington Himself sent Diplomatic letters all over the world proclaiming the United States open for Business. Business that would not be hampered by religious fervor or any single religion.

      the revisionist history you learned bj is the inaccurate one.

    • Jefferson was the major contributor to that portion of the First Amendment, which was a condensation of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, composed in 1777 and enacted the year before the Constitutional Convention, which states in part:

      Whereas, Almighty God hath created the mind free;

      that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burthens, or by civil incapacitations tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and therefore are a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, who being Lord, both of body and mind yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was in his Almighty power to do,

      […]that to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves is sinful and tyrannical;

      that even the forcing him to support this or that teacher of his own religious persuasion is depriving him of the comfortable liberty of giving his contributions to the particular pastor, whose morals he would make his pattern, and whose powers he feels most persuasive to righteousness, and is withdrawing from the Ministry those temporary rewards, which, proceeding from an approbation of their personal conduct are an additional incitement to earnest and unremitting labours for the instruction of mankind;

      that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions any more than our opinions in physics or geometry,

      […]no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief, but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of Religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge or affect their civil capacities.

      Very observant man, Jefferson.

    • parsingreality says:

      …that we were not a Christian nation, thus taking religion vs. religion out of the peace negotiations. No need to save Muslim faith.

      Just to update you what you missed in your home schooling, this was the event known generally as the war with the Barbary pirates. It’s how the Marines got that line, “….to the shores of Tripoli.”

      But hey, don’t let facts get in your deluded way.  They never did, did they?

      • droll says:

        The whole damn country was founded by terrorists!  THAT’S what the Tea Party is doing; righting that wrong.


        I’m sensing a new Da Vinci Code type movie to explain it all.  Guess how it ends… Cultural Center?  Yeah right.

        Also, the Marines are a figment of your imagination.  Why else would they be so short?

      • Laughing Boy says:

        Hey Pars…did you mean to type Jefferson instead of Washington?

    • ClubTwitty says:

      You may recall there are three equal branches of government.  

      The courts have clearly established the separation of church and state.

      The phrase was quoted by the United States Supreme Court first in 1878, and then in a series of cases starting in 1947. The phrase itself does not appear in the U.S. Constitution, although the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

      Jefferson, not yet president, established that such a concept was indeed on the minds of the Founding Fathers, including one who would go on to head the Executive Branch. Interestingly enough, in his letter Jefferson was reassuring a religious minority that they would remain free to worship as Baptists.

      And notable, iconic Republican presidents have also supported this basic tenet of America.

      Although Roosevelt had been a Sunday school teacher, he believed strongly in the separation of Church and State. While taking the oath of office during his inauguration after McKinley’s assassination, he did not swear on the Bible.

      When the $20 gold coin was designed in 1907, the words “In God We Trust” were not present. In a letter written by Roosevelt, he said it was irreverent to have the words printed on the coins because the money was used to buy worldly goods and services.

      Finally, the Legislative Branch has itself confirmed this notion, early in its history–when the spirit of the nation’s founding was fresh and alive–in ratifying the Treaty of Tripoli.

      Art. 11. As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

    • VanDammer says:

      you’re getting spanked & schooled but you seem to have shut up.  You’re ‘revisionist history’ retort was just a cowardly little throw away … the likes of which everyone expects from an ill-informed, home-schooled cellar dweller.  Guess you proudly hang your home school accredidation right up on your wall next to your TeaBagger revised copy of the Constitution.  

    • Voyageur says:

      So was George Washington.

      A lot of the founders were unitarians, who specifically did not believe that Jesus was a deity.

        However, the least religious of the Founders was probably Thomas Paine.  He was an atheist.

        As to protecting people from religious fanatics trying to force their views on other citizens — known as separation of church and state — try reading the first Amendment.


    • nancycronk says:

      Or should I call you, David?

      I don’t see anything in the constitution about Christmas trees, either? Which constitution are you looking at?

  2. Ralphie says:

    He’s a lawyer after all.

    Except if you’re raped by your boyfriend.

  3. Skyler says:

    They were selling t-shirts that had a Shepard Fairey stylized t-shirt with Jefferson’s face on it, underneath which it said “FAITH.”

    I’m guessing most of the Beckheads, much like our friend Beej, didn’t make it to the Jefferson Memorial after the rally.  

  4. Froward69 says:

    The No Religious Test Clause of the United States Constitution is found in Article VI, paragraph 3, and states that:

       The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States. [Froward emphasis]

  5. DaftPunk says:

    It’s the fault of those damn Democratic trackers!

  6. Froward69 says:

    so others that think are misinformed like you, are now trying to undo 234 years of precedent with rewriting Texas schoolbooks!

    you do not have a leg to stand on in this arguement what so ever.

    this would be a prime opportunity for you to gain some humility, admit you are wrong and learn something new.

  7. ardy39 says:

    After all, as Colbert points out:

    He was born that way.

    (Colbert clip located at Colorado Independent.)

  8. MADCO says:

    The WH Chistmas tree is stillt he WH Christmas tree.

    That story has been debunked so many times it’s hard to believe anyone could believe it.

    (Though I gotta ask which part of the BIble directs us to have Christmas trees. My conservative Christian family members don’t have one – they think it’s a distraction from the real message of Christianity.)

    And if Buck really believes the Constitution nor the laws of the US require separation of church and state, what does he think about a right to privacy?  Not specifically spelled out in the Constitution – I’m not even sure the word privacy appears.

  9. Ray Springfield says:

    The Civil Rights Act of 1964 clearly makes it illegal in the work environment. I find it suspect that anyone would question a fundamental princple. The original colonies were founded by people fleeing religious persecution.

  10. AreWeNotMen says:

    The first amendment establishment clause was not initially applied to the individual states under the Constitution.  Massachusetts, for instance, had a system for state funding of churches (usually Congregationalism) until 1833.  Connecticut had an established church until 1818.  Apparently, it was due to action at the state, not the federal, level that the state support was removed. Madison proposed that the establishment clause would apply to the states, but the provision was voted down by Congress(So says Wikipedia, anyway.)

    Like most of the rest of the Bill of Rights, I assume that the establishment and free exercise clauses were applied to the states as a result of the 14th amendment.

    • ClubTwitty says:

      Like most of the rest of the Bill of Rights, I assume that the establishment and free exercise clauses were applied to the states as a result of the 14th amendment.

      That’s my understanding.  The first court ruling was in 1878.  

  11. brio says:

    Don’t get me wrong, as a card-(misplaced somewhere) member of Americans United, I care about the separation of church and state, and the effort to chrisianify the Constitution drives me bonkers.  But if you think many like-minded folk were planning on voting for Buck until this “revelation” came along, you’re delusional.  This does not move the election needle one bit.  It just increases the despair I will feel if the Buckflipper pulls if off.

    • Ignatius O'Reilly says:

      Well said.

    • JO says:

      We all have our buttons. The Buck video pushed mine.

      Could well be that this video will get Buck more votes than it costs him.

      But imagine living in a state represented by Senator Buck and Governor Trancredo. Talk about failure to support higher education coming back to bite you! I can’t imagine continuing to live in such a place.

      I wonder how that combo would affect Aspen? How it would affect decisions by companies requiring high-intellect workers to set up shop here?

      The point being not so much about Buck and Tancredo, but about a population that could vote either one into office.

  12. Half Glass Full says:

    Um, yes you do. You’ve said that a lot about various missteps and blunders – such as Suthers’ allowing that murderer to go free. “We don’t have to tell you how bad…”

    And then the public lets out a collective yawn and a contented fart, rolls over, and goes back to sleep.

    It’s an embarrassing moment for Buck, no question, but not a game-changer at this point.

    Now, if he were to say that he had a first date on a satanic alter, and “there was blood” – well, we don’t need to tell you how bad THAT would be.

    • Colorado Pols says:

      The problem for Buck is how they combine to create an image he doesn’t want. In the last week, the local (and even national) media have talked about Buck’s comments on homosexuality/alcoholism; global warming is a hoax; and now that he doesn’t believe in separation of church and state. One of those isn’t terrible, but one after the other after the other starts to paint a picture of Buck that will not be helpful with voters.

  13. Papa Smurf says:

    Not the liberal textbook version that you get in Boulder Valley public schools.  The kind that actually tell it like it was.

    There is a long, long, long, long, exhausting list of examples where government and religion were anything but separated–starting the day the Constitution was passed through the Convention.  Feel free to bring up rulings some 200 years after that all you want, it doesn’t change history.

    Pols tries (and fails miserably) to argue that the separation of church and state “was perhaps the primary reason that this country was founded.”  This country was founded to escape religious persecution–not to escape religion.  They were concerned with the government treating its people differently based on their particular religion, not with seeing a cross in a military cemetery or their kids hearing Christmas carols in school.

    • Aristotle says:

      let me be the one who tells you that you’re wrong. First of all, this country was founded to provide economic opportunities. The king wasn’t being kindhearted and letting the Puritans and/or Catholics (depening on the king) have a place to call their own. Also, keep in mind that while excessive taxation might have been the straw that broke the camel’s back, the revolt happened because the Americans wanted to trade directly with the European markets and not have everything go through England first. That’s why all the Founding Fathers were merchants and large scale farmers.

      Second of all, familiarize yourself with the debates surrounding whether the states should establish an official state religion. You’ll see what those who prevailed in that argument had to say about whether the state and the church should be separated or not.

      • Papa Smurf says:

        I meant the Mayflower/1620 founding.  And I assumed that’s what Pols meant when suggesting religious freedom “was perhaps the primary reason that this country was founded.”

        And which debates are we referring to?  And whichever debates you’re referring to, your logic doesn’t follow.  Simply because the people who (you believe) prevailed in a debate over official state religions also believe that “church and state” should be separated does not automatically make them right on both counts.  That’s ludicrous, piss-poor logic.

        • Aristotle says:

          as evidenced by the fact that no state religion was ever established. But there were plenty of heated debates, and several of the opponents of state religion also argued for separation.

          And sorry, but that’s a HUGE moving of the goalposts if you’re talking about Plymouth Rock. That was not the first colony in America, and they certainly weren’t in the business of founding a new nation. No one was even dreaming of that til well into the 18th Century.

          The colonies were established by England for the purpose of exploiting the wealth of the New World as their rivals Spain had been doing for more than a century. Many of the original colonists were people without much opportunity in England – younger sons of nobility who weren’t in line to inherit anything, peasants displaced by enclosure, merchants seeking new opportunities, and yes, eventually, religious minorities dealing with oppression and the yo-yoing attitudes of the kings (this one’s Protestant! That one’s Catholic! Neither like Puritans!) A condition made even messier by the English Civil War and Oliver Cromwell’s Commonwealth, which happened after most of the colonies were established.

          Now then, I want to quote your last paragraph in its entirety, as it highlights your complete unwillingness to be reasonable.

          And which debates are we referring to?  And whichever debates you’re referring to, your logic doesn’t follow.  Simply because the people who (you believe) prevailed in a debate over official state religions also believe that “church and state” should be separated does not automatically make them right on both counts.  That’s ludicrous, piss-poor logic.

          So you already know how the logic of a series of debates of which you’re ignorant will follow, do you? Tell me, wise one, how you could possible know that when you admitted that you didn’t know which debates I was talking about.

          You may not be a total assclown, but you’ve got some work to do to convince me otherwise. You clearly don’t know your history but have the temerity to tell others to crack open a book about it. Nice work.

          • Papa Smurf says:

            …I was working off the same assumption ColoradoPols was in stating that religious freedom was “perhaps the primary reason this country was founded.”  Quit bullshitting me.

            As for the last part, you’ve got to go back and read it again.  I was making no assumptions, and never claimed to “know” anything regarding your mystery “debates.”  You claimed that because Group A successfully argued Point X, Group A’s belief in Point Y was equally well founded.  I don’t need to know which debates you’re talking about to know that that’s total crap.

            • Aristotle says:

              Well, if you weren’t making an assumption, what do you call this leap you made here?

              And which debates are we referring to?  And whichever debates you’re referring to, your logic doesn’t follow.

              You can’t say my “logic doesn’t follow” when you didn’t know which debates I meant. You have to find that out first.

              Further, since the country was founded with the American Revolution, there was no assumption that Pols meant the founding of the colonies.

              Now that that’s established – that any talk of the founding of the United States means the events that took place during the latter third of the 18th Century – here’s my actual point. Group A successfully argued Point X, using Point Y to support Point X. Point Y being that religion and state should be separate. It’s not a matter of whether Point Y is “well founded,” it’s that it’s something many of the founding fathers believed our country should have. Which is important to understand because we have a lot of people going around claiming that they never intended for church and state to be separated. We have them on record arguing for just that.

              Let me close that I believe you’re being disingenuous in this debate. You specifically talk about the existence of “examples where government and religion were anything but separated–starting the day the Constitution was passed through the Convention.” Followed by “Feel free to bring up rulings some 200 years after that all you want, it doesn’t change history.” But then you say you were talking about the Pilgrims landing at Plymouth Rock because you understood Pols to be talking about that time period. If so, why did you start with the Constitutional Convention? “I was being more general,” you say. My ass you were.

              • Papa Smurf says:

                …who leads them in prayer before their proceedings.

                Even before they elected a Chaplain, the Continental Congress held prayers before beginning their proceedings.  Hmm…I bet it went something like this [take it away, Jacob Duche]:

                “Lord our Heavenly Father, High and Mighty King of kings, and Lord of lords, who dost from thy throne behold all the dwellers on earth and reignest with power supreme and uncontrolled over all the Kingdoms, Empires and Governments; look down in mercy, we beseech thee, on these our American States, who have fled to thee from the rod of the oppressor and thrown themselves on Thy gracious protection, desiring to be henceforth dependent on Thee, to Thee have they appealed for the righteousness of their cause; to Thee do they now look up for that countenance and support, which Thou alone canst give; take them, therefore, Heavenly Father, under Thy nurturing care; give them wisdom in Council and valor in the field; defeat the malicious designs of our cruel adversaries; convince them of the unrighteousness of their Cause and if they persist in their sanguinary purposes, of own unerring justice, sounding in their hearts, constrain them to drop the weapons of war from their unnerved hands in the day of battle! Be Thou present, O God of wisdom, and direct the councils of this honorable assembly; enable them to settle things on the best and surest foundation. That the scene of blood may be speedily closed; that order, harmony and peace may be effectually restored, and truth and justice, religion and piety, prevail and flourish amongst Thy people. Preserve the health of their bodies and vigor of their minds; shower down on them and the millions they here represent, such temporal blessings as Thou seest expedient for them in this world and crown them with everlasting glory in the world to come. all this we ask In the Name and through the merits of Jesus Christ, Thy Son and our Savior.


                • Aristotle says:

                  That settles it then. Separation of church and state is a myth! Congress has a chaplain. Thanks for correcting me.

                  Seriously dude. Go learn your history. The Texas School Board approved version is slanted and incomplete.

        • The Puritans had approval from the London Company to form a settlement (which was supposed to be in the Virginia colony, except that the ship went off-course), and had with them a decent number of personnel hired by that Company who were supposed to help them build the settlement.  The most famous member of the colony, Myles Standish, was never a Puritan according to records.

          And the Puritans came to America as much to escape their persecution in England as to form their own religious state.  Same with the Quakers, the Amish, a number of Catholics, and the list goes on.

          As Ari notes, the ultimate result of the debate amongst the states, and at the Constitutional Convention, was that a government free from religion (and religions free from government) was the best way to cement the union and the people of this country.

    • See the rebuttals to bj’s similar post up above (in addition to Ari’s rebuttal to your own post…).

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