America's Tea Party Fundamentalist – Christine O'Donnell

John H Williams

(Investigator 136, 2011 January)

In America, it seems one can't do politics without an infusion of religion. Barack Obama has shown that a president need not be white, but despite his popularity, persuasive rhetoric and personal charm, could he have made it as a non-believer?  With the mid-term elections looming, he's re-affirming his religious convictions: not only is he a Christian who believes in "the redemptive death and resurrection of Jesus", he's a devout believer. No matter what polls may suggest, dismiss the notion that an atheist could ever become a presidential contender!

Despite his devoutness, post-Obamanian disillusionment has set in: Mormons and Protestants are the most estranged, while among conservative Christians government is increasingly viewed as a "force of secularisation and of moral deregulation". Faith-based charities and community organisations are being strongly supported by the White House, but Obama's initiatives are being viewed askance by both conservatives and liberals, and a portion of those who voted for him in 2008 have drifted to the Tea Party Movement, a new, "patriotically extreme" middle-class section of the GOP (Grand Old Party), also known as the Republican Party.

We're not surprised when American politicians are creationists and sometimes give chapter and verse on their biblical literalism. Christine O'Donnell, who's become the Delaware Republican candidate for the Senate, is a young earth creationist and a Tea Party member.

She has, since 2006, affirmed her "moral certitude" on abortion, chastity, homosexuality ("pray away the gay") and prayer in schools. She felt as if "God was calling her" to stand as a GOP candidate, primarily as an anti-abortion campaigner.

O'Donnell has rather extreme opinions, but admits that, "when you're running for office, you have to water them down", and expedience is more to the fore than is usual. She and her team are mindful of the blaze of negative publicity from her media appearances, so her recently ‘re-cast' campaign has been more about the Constitution than the Bible. Voters are now being asked to believe that her faith hasn't influenced her politics: given her history, a tall order!

One might think that, on her third run for office, O'Donnell would have a good grasp of the Constitution, but here's her response to "Do you believe that evolution's a myth?"

"Local school districts should decide, and should teach what they want (on evolution and religion)."  When informed that this was unconstitutional, her plaintive response was, "So you're telling me that the phrase, ‘separation of church and state' is found in the First Amendment?" Her ignorance of a law intrinsic to her advocacy of inserting religion into schools is embarrassing, to say the least. The First Amendment prohibits government from:
(a) establishing a religion;
(b) showing a preference for one religion over another;
(c) showing preference to religion over non-religion.
Even more embarrassing are her blithely ignorant opinions on evolution and geology:
"Creationism is believing that the world began as in Genesis: God created the Earth in six 24 hour days, and there is just as much, if not more, evidence supporting that."

"Dinosaur fossils were planted either by God to test our faith, or by Satan to sow seeds of doubt."

"Evolution is a theory, and is exactly that. There is not enough consistent evidence to make it as a fact, it needs to consistently have the same results after it goes through a series of tests. The tests that they use to support evolution don't have consistent results. Too many people are blindly accepting evolution as fact, but when you get down to the hard evidence, it's merely theory."

"Regarding fact, they use carbon dating to prove something was millions of years old, but we have the eruption of Mount St Helens, but the carbon dating test that they used then would have to prove that these were hundreds of millions of years younger, when what happened was they had the exact same results on the fossils and canyons that they did the tests on that were supposedly hundreds of millions of years old."
As a non-scientist, she had the temerity to want to "square-off against every legitimate scientist in the world", and in 1996 she debated Professor McKinney of the University of Minnesota on CNN, and offered the oxymoronic creation science quoted above, including the incoherent rant about the age of Mt St Helens. If one googles "Mt St Helens age of the Earth", one can understand why: almost every site of the first three pages is taken up with an array of internet idiocy!

O'Donnell is big on moral certitude, and she's been telling people not to masturbate (this requires lust, and the Bible says lust is wrong), remain chaste until marriage (long wait if no marriage!), and "you are either very good or evil", so, "to avoid doom", please be good for heaven's sake. (She's since disavowed her stance on masturbation)

In 1996 she founded SALT (Savior's Alliance for Lifting the Truth), lobbying Congress in opposing sex education, abortion and homosexuality, viewed by her as a "sickness" and an "identity disorder", adopted through "societal factors". SALT has been opposed by a pro-gay/lesbian/transgender/bisexual group, Truth Wins Out, which has exposed SALT's egregious philosophy and practices, based on the lie that non-heterosexuals can be ‘converted' via counseling, re-programming and prayer.

In her youth she's admitted to dabbling in witchcraft, a belief apparently held by 10% of Americans, though she ‘never inhaled' (joined a coven). When challenged on this, her response was "Doesn't everybody?" Even in America, a candidate with a former yen for wiccanism is not good PR, and she's had to state that she's no longer interested.

Her academic CV, as per a Linkedln web profile, showed her to be a graduate of Farleigh-Dickenson University (F-D), a graduate of Claremont Graduate University, and having studied Post- Modernism at Oxford University. In fact, she did not graduate at F-D until completing, at age 40, a required summer school course in 2010, then receiving a degree in English Literature. She was sued by F-D in 1994 for the non-payment of her original course fees (US$4,823), and paid in 2003. Claremont Graduate University has no record of her, but she'd taken classes at the less prestigious Claremont Institute. Her Oxford ‘studies' comprised a week's training course with the Phoenix Institute, which rented facilities at Oxford University!

In 2005 she implied that she was working towards a master's degree at Princeton, but later admitted that she hadn't.

Her CV has since been removed from the website, but revealed an evangelical Christian who has, over a number of years, ignored the 9th Commandment and been ‘economical with the truth'.

Yet she's apparently heavily into truthfulness — note her response to Bill Maher's question on Politically Incorrect (15/9/10), "If you were in war-time Europe, giving shelter to a gay friend, and the Gestapo came, would you tell the truth?"
"God would find a way to do the right thing righteously. You never have to practice deception."

Despite the shallow, ‘righter than Right' weirdness of her (recently diluted) opinions, Delawareans say things like "she's a nut-case but at least she supports economic freedoms", and "I'd vote for her despite her lunacy". O'Donnell's been exploiting the "marginalisation of mainstream core conservatives by anti-American elites". "They call us wacky, wing-nuts. We the People!" And, "I am you."

O'Donnell, a barnstorming ‘mama grizzly', purveyor of pseudoscience and a preacher of morality she hasn't always practiced, likely scared moderate voters as being too wacky, and was a third time loser on November 2nd. The result was a win to Chris Coons (58.5%), O'Donnell on 41.5 %.