The fundamental Constitutional notion of the separation of church & state was questioned yesterday by Tea Party favorite Christine O’Donnell, receiving a burst of laughter from her law-school crowd. Was she really ignorant of the first amendment? We’ve got video and pictures of the debate gaffe and more below!

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Asking her Democratic rival where the verbiage was found in the Constitution, the GOP upstart was mocked by her rival for the remark. But defenders insist the candidate was just pointing out that the actual words were not written anywhere in the Constitution.

“Where in the Constitution is separation of church and state?” she asked.

After a pause, rival Democrat Chris Coons, a lawyer himself, remarked that Christine O’Donnell’s questioning of the separation of church & state “reveals her fundamental misunderstanding of what our Constitution is. … The First Amendment establishes a separation.”

“The First Amendment does? … So you’re telling me that the separation of church and state, the phrase ‘separation of church and state,’ is in the First Amendment?” she replied.

In fact, she was right to say that the phrase does not appear in the Constitution. However, that phrase was just coined to describe the implications of the 1st Amendment.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof or abridging the freedom of speech.”

Received as an embarrassing gaffe for the Tea Party, O’Donnell is looking more and more like the ghost of Sarah Palin, whose famously inadequate knowledge of politics cost her dearly in the 2008 elections. O’Donnell’s campaign quickly clarified their candidate’s question, insisting that she completely accepts the concept as a well-established doctrine. But the damage-control came too late, as the videos of the debate gaffe had already gone viral.

Digging her grave deeper, the Tea Party candidate actually caused the crowd to gasp when, after Coons summarized the first amendment, she asked “That’s in the First Amendment?”

There’s no recovering from that. What do you think of the separation of church & state question posed by Christine O’Donnell? Was the candidate misinterpreted? Or does she really have no knowledge of the Constitution? Check out the pictures and video of the debate below, and let me know what you think in the comment section.

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Photos: www.wenn.com/ Carrie Devorah