Separation of Church and State In the Eye of the Beholder

Among the legislation proposed in the Arkansas House of Representatives this session — prohibiting gay adoption, requiring parental permission for abortion, defining marriage as heterosexual in school textbooks, and creating “In God We Trust” license plates — was Democratic representative Buddy Blair’s resolution to reaffirm state support for the separation of church and state. Praising politicians as diverse as JFK and Barry Goldwater, Blair said he was tired of his conservative colleagues “‘making every issue into a religious issue,'” and told opponents that a vote against the resolution was a vote against both the U.S. Constitution and that of the state of Arkansas. The resolution was rejected last Friday by a vote of 44 to 39, with 17 abstentions, and the seemingly contradictory rationales of Republican opponents that 1) the founding fathers had wanted a Christian nation, and 2), the notion of separation of church and state is all relative, anyway.