A Republican Senate candidate in Mississippi says he is a “big believer in school prayer,” and thinks public school teachers should be allowed to pray in the classroom.
Chris McDaniel, who is challenging incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran in the Republican primary, made the comments at a “Cock of the Walk” event in Pocahontas on May 19.
The Tea Party candidate noted that Thomas Jefferson’s 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptists in Connecticut referenced “a wall of separation between church and state.” He said the phrase was later elevated into law through “judicial fiat” by Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black, who ruled that state-sanctioned prayer in public schools was unconstitutional.
“The court embarked on this terrible line of decisions,” he explained. “It started in ’47, then culminated in ’61 and ’62, even others up to the ’80s, where basically they shut down prayer in public schools. Prayer in public schools would not have been considered unconstitutional by your founders. It just wouldn’t have. If you’re an originalist and you look at the First Amendment, you understand the purpose behind the free exercise clause and the establishment clause, the government should be relatively neutral — particularly the federal government.”
McDaniel said the Supreme Court “really messed up” by creating “muddled” legal tests to judge whether a public school’s actions had violated the separation of church and state. The justices created the legal tests, he alleged, as a way to side-step the Constitution and “apply laws arbitrarily.”
He also suggested a prayer delivered by a teacher shouldn’t be considered a state-sanctioned prayer.
“The key is, the Supreme Court doesn’t want the state to put its fingerprint on the prayer, to okay it,” he explained. “Okay, fine. If my kid prays at school, how is that a state action? If a teacher prays in front of her classroom, some may perceive it as such, but that doesn’t make it an official state action.”
Watch video below.
At another event held in Brandon earlier this month, McDaniel said that Democrats feared Christianity because it threatened their political power.
“I think that our worldview threatens their hold on power, it always has,” he replied in response to a woman’s question. “It is the Christian worldview that our founders knew would provide great prosperity and liberty, and they knew that prosperity and liberty were intertwined.”
“I can’t speak for all Democrats in that regard, I would just suggest that if we are going to restore this republic, we have to restore the culture. You don’t restore the culture by passing laws. You restore cultures by communicating Christian examples and principles that we believe in… Our whole fight is not about politicians, it is not about Washington, even, it’s about what can wake up the people. If the people wake up and they restore the culture, then you’ll see a restoration of politics. That’s what we’re trying to do.”
Watch video below.
YouTube user “SuperDaveVideos” uploaded video of McDaniel speaking at the events earlier this month.