Catholic News Service Needs Civics Lesson

I am sad, today. The Catholic News Service seems to have shown that its reporters don’t know a blamed thing about the Constitution. Unfortunately, this uninformed reporter for CNS is not an isolated case as too many Americans haven’t a clue about what is actually in the Constitution of the United States.

For CNS, reporter Chaz Muth published a story headlined Interactive display at Library of Congress makes Bible come alive, but right away the first sentence condemns Chaz to the ranks of the uninformed.

Separation of church and state is enshrined in the U.S. Constitution but that doesn’t mean the Bible can’t be admired and appreciated by a public or government institution.

No, no, no, no.

The Constitution does not “enshrine” the idea of the separation of church and state. The phrase “separation of church and state” does not appear anywhere in the Constitution. Not only that, but no one in the country ever had any real concept of this phrase until the Supreme Court dredged it up in the 1940s!

The phrase “wall of separation” first appeared in a letter to Connecticut churchgoers written in 1802 by President Thomas Jefferson now called the Danbury letter. But the truth is that the phrase didn’t see the light of day until 1947 when Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black used it in his opinion on the case Everson v. The Board of Education. So, the phrase really is no founding principle.

In any case, it is sad that the reporters and editors at CNS are as ill informed as they seem to be.

Hawkins’ Note: The post was corrected on December 6, 2009. It originally read “Catholic News Agency,” not “Catholic News Service” in places.

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