Church-State Separation ‘Misinterpreted,’ Says U.S. Sen. Brownback

A leading Religious Right ally in the Senate says church-state separation has been “misinterpreted.”

U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) told The Wichita Eagle last month that courts have “profoundly misinterpreted” the separation of church and state. The principle, he said, has been taken too far.

“The separation of church and state would not establish one religion, not a removal of religion from public life,” he said.

Brownback told the newspaper he strives to avoid raising religion when explaining his positions on issues like abortion, cloning and stem-cell research. “Otherwise,” he said, “people see theology as divisive, which it shouldn’t be.”

Brownback, formerly a Methodist, converted to Catholicism in 2002. Brownback’s conversion was brought about under the influence of U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum and the Rev. John McCloskey, a traditionalist Catholic priest who runs the Catholic Information Center in Washington, D.C.

Always a favorite of the Religious Right, Brownback has appeared at many far-right gatherings over the years. He is especially popular with the Christian Coalition, the Family Research Council and Focus on the Family.

Brownback told The Eagle that religious conservatives have obtained “a philosophical majority” in Congress and America and said he looks forward to passing laws restricting abortion and banning embryonic stem-cell research and human cloning.

The Kansas Republican will be in position to push his agenda. He has been named to the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee.